As a B.C. resident, I have been involved with schools and education in a variety of ways. I was a longtime parent volunteer and then a public health nurse, a healthy schools co-ordinator and a nursing supports services co-ordinator (for special needs children) in my region.
During that time, I observed the dedication and compassion with which teachers interacted with their students. I know that the majority of teachers work long hours, and that often the resources used are bought by the teachers themselves because the resource budget given to them is not adequate for the student needs.
I was involved with the transition of special needs students into the classroom. While I believe totally in the concept of inclusion for all children, the way it is being implemented today often does not meet the needs. The concept of inclusion means that every child is included and supported within the education system so that every child has an equal opportunity to develop physically, emotionally and academically to the extent of his/her abilities. While students with the designation of autism or down syndrome may have adequate teacher aide support, the children with undiagnosed medical conditions or those children with behavioural problems increase the work load for the teachers but usually do not receive teacher’s aide support for their conditions. When teachers receive inadequate support, it means that all children in the classroom can be negatively impacted too. This is the reason why class size and composition in the classroom is so important. In my opinion, the standoff between the British Columbia government and the B.C. Teacher’s Federation in terms of bargaining in good faith is a travesty.
I am totally disgusted by this turn of events, and lobby both the B.C. government and the BCTF to end this quickly. I would also like to encourage every parent and interested person to lobby the involved parties to work together efficiently and comprehensively to reach a collaborative settlement of this issue. In addition to that send a letter or e-mail to your MLA indicating your displeasure with this situation.