Student designation changes raise worries

Guest Comment

To the Editor,

Schools across the Nanaimo school district are currently facing de-designations significantly affecting children who previously had educational support.

We are very concerned for the learners who will lose the very valuable support of educational assistants, allowing them and others to be successful in the classroom setting.

Contributing to this situation are the following:

u some of our most vulnerable learners do not meet the criteria for designations which generate support;

u children with clusters of learning challenges currently do not generate additional support and resources;

u the cumbersome paperwork and process involved in the designation of students;

u the onus on parents to initiate contact with medical experts;

u wait times for specialists;

u funding to education.

Students who do not meet the criteria for designations which generate additional support funding are often the most in need of more individualized support in the classroom. Included are students with: significant motor challenges that prevent them from producing written work; learning disabilities; behaviour problems; and speech and language challenges.

Other students have a cluster of multiple learning challenges and yet do not currently qualify for any additional support. Specifically these children need help with: verbally administered tests; scribing their ideas; technological support; and guidance with managing their behaviour.

For many parents, the process of describing learning challenges is difficult related to a medical diagnosis. Teaching professionals are awaiting clarification on their role in communicating with medical professionals within the community.

Typically, the wait time for a child to see the pediatrician is four to six months. To avoid these lengthy wait times some parents are paying for assessments and private consults. During this wait time, the child is not receiving the support desperately needed to learn. Important learning happens daily in the education of the child and insufficient support directly affects the child as well as other children in a class.

Inclusive education benefits all learners. Do not let our vulnerable learners lose the support they desperately need. Lack of support for these students will affect all children and their futures.

Quality, fully funded, public education is a right of every student in Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

Karen Pierce,

on behalf of teachers and education assistants at Seaview Elementary School