Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Parental lobbying


Lobby groups in education proliferate. 


Individual lobbyists, AKA mothers, proliferate and get air time as they complain about their child's placement. 

School are staffed, students are not. 
Each school is assigned a certain number of teachers, and Educational Assistants (EAs), according to their staffing models.
Individual students are not assigned an EA, the EA is assigned to the school and the principal must use him/her time as best assisting all the school population, specifically the special needs kids. This would allow a Developmentally Disabled (DD) kids to be integrated into a regular classroom with support.

The special education class in which a child was placed may or may not be designated for DD kids, but it may well be designated a special needs class, and a mother has no right to tell the school, and the media, that her child should have individual attention, with her own EA, any more than the kids with autism. Clifford Bowey and Crystal Bay do have segregated classes. They are wonderful schools, with great programs, but many kids have to be bussed. In the 90s parents were big into keeping kids integrated, bringing advocates to IEP meetings, and demanding special programs.

When Mike Harris removed the ability of trustes to set tax rates, and therefore determine the level of needs and how much local taxpayers were willing to pay, the system fell apart. Without the staff and the funding, children with special needs require smaller class sizes, and a differentiated program, extra support with different curriculum, which is unavailable in the regular classroom. By grade 2, more abstract thinking is required in the regular classroom. And it only increases with the expectations of junior grades (gr. 4 - 6). I have taught classes: 35 gr. 4/5, with 6 gifted kids, two with Autism Spectrum Disorder, one with severe behavioural issues, 3 with learning disabilities. It is only getting more difficulty with more integration. 

When I sat on the Special Education Advisory Committee as a teacher rep, where policy, procedures and principals were determined, we constantly saw articulate, powerful parents lobbying for their special child to have special attention (mostly it was gifted kids then). The principal and the superintendent determine how staff allocations are made, based on funding models by the provincial government, with the needs of the entire school population in mind. In most home schools the children are paired with buddies and socialize with regular students. 

How this mother could demand to send the other kids off to another school is beyond me.  And CBC gives her air time. Shame.



Then there is the other end of the spectrum: a school without special services that straps a kid into a chair. I think the Ottawa mom ought to see the bigger picture.


CBC News - Ottawa - Deeply disabled son failed at school: mom

20 Sep 2010 ... Rice said it is important for special needs children to be able to socialize, but the school also has to look at the impact of other 


Lobbying is a long-serving activity: this family has been fighting OBE and now OCDSB for years. Their son in 21 and no longer qualifies to be in the public school system. This father has been arrested for trespassing on school property. He sure is a fighter. It is a difficult balance to work with a school and a school system. Wise parents know the difference. Many battle like this take up school and teacher time and energy. 


Parents fight to keep special needs son in school after 21

15 Jan 2011 ... The Bonnah family fought long... His mother Marilyn says it's her son's only chance at success. ... Board policy, however, states that special needs students must leave the...
At a case conference last Friday to discuss Zach's studies past the age of 21, the board informed family members his options include Storefront, which is designed to help students 19 to 21 with developmental disabilities learn life skills, education and gain work experience. There is also a program at Algonquin College.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Parents+fight+keep+special+needs+school+after/4114365/story.html#ixzz1FM189Njv

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