School pilot projects cause some concerns

How many of you would feel comfortable with your child’s education being sacrificed for the possible greater good of future students?

Dear Editor:

How many of you would feel comfortable with your child’s education being sacrificed for the possible greater good of future students?

As altruistic as I believe we are, I would wager no one would sign up for this. Well I certainly haven’t but this is exactly what is happening to my daughter. Over the past year I have stood by as the transparency of her funding for “special education” has disappeared, as has her aide, to help in main stream classes, and her individualized help in the special needs class. The “inclusive” education mandate our provincial government has adopted is being implemented and even administration can’t explain what exactly this means for my special student other than there is less accountability, less assistance but this is all for her good and will improve her quality of education.

My child is a guinea pig and so is yours. Wolf Creek Public Schools has a few pilot programs this year within the district and then next year it’s a full on inclusion mandate. This means special needs students in main stream classes with or without an aide (my experience is without) in classes already bursting at the high school level with more than 30 students. My child unfortunately is not a squeaky wheel and I know she is just going to sit there with everything flying over her head. That’s fine for your students but you better hope there are not three extra special squeaky wheels in your child’s class. Every teacher is supposed to be a special needs expert and be able to increase their class size without feeling overburdened.

I understand inclusion has worked well for some special students in the past but special needs funding formulas no longer exist. The government has decided that they’d rather not have funding accountability for special needs students so basically my daughter no longer has special funding so don’t expect anything “special.” This is an experiment in education that the government is waging will work, with our children’s future weighing in the balance. Let’s hope lady luck is on their side because if not there will be years of lost educational opportunity, overburdened teachers, special students who may not reach their full potential either relegated to an understaffed special classroom or lost in the sea of mainstream education.

Please get on the phone if this doesn’t sit well with you. Call Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox at (403) 782-7725 or Lacombe.ponoka@assembly.ab.ca; or Rimbey school trustee Trudy Bratland at 403-843-3356 or email tbratland@wolfcreek.ab.ca

Paula ZoBell,

Lacombe