Looking for an answer

When the public school teachers of British Columbia rattle back to their classrooms I hope it’s not with a we-won-they-lost attitude. I also trust the government will not wax triumphant in the ill conceived brawl which saw both sides yelling the same battle cry “It’s not about the money ”, when from the get-go that’s all it was about.
The teachers, like poor Oliver Twist wanted more; the government like Mr. Bumble said there wasn’t any more that these were hard financial times and the bottom of porridge bowl had been scraped clean. Eventually, the unseemly public display of bad manners and attempted bullying by both sides, plus dismal TV examples of scruffy looks by some teachers, will end – if it hasn’t already – and both sides will have ample opportunity to apologize to the student body and their parents.
They should assure them, and every taxpayer in the province, that they will never again be punished when the teacher’s union and their employer clash over pay and class size.
A good start would be to create a joint committee to resolve the key cash and class size issue with the aim of getting a mutually agreed to special needs program up and running long before the next collective agreement scrap starts.
It is not fair to expect teachers to have to take care of special needs children while trying to nurture and educate a full class of more fortunate, energy rampant, same-age children.
It would be even more unfair to deny those children with special needs the right to the best instruction society can afford.
The attempt to weave the education of special needs children with those able to absorb learning at a faster pace was a worthy cause. But assimilation has never been much of a success in the field of education.
A complex problem, to be sure. But not a new one, and not a moral complexity other countries haven’t faced. Maybe not with 100 percent success, but certainly with better and more peaceful rites of passage – for teachers, special needs students and youngsters blessed with brighter minds and bodies; and the government which must finally answer too us for how the money we give them is spent.
I do not advance the example of Uffculme Special School in England as a panacea for BC problems. But I would recommend a Google of its name, a visit to its home page – a careful read of the detailed reporting on how it works. The content is far too voluminous for me to offer here but I’ll answer one question which always crops up when education is discussed: What will it cost? Is it about the money or the special needs child?
Uffculme School clearly lists its answer:”There is no charge for a place here, for admissions or for the provision of education. We will not request donations before or during the admissions process and any donations made to the school following admission are strictly voluntary.”
I’m sure Uffculme and all the other special needs schools in the UK have systemic weaknesses. But it appears to be a good sized step up from what we have in BC, and the time to start looking for a better way is now. You can fire your reaction my way via jhume@shaw.ca, this web page, or Facebook.
Maybe we can make something happen.

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