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It's time to put students first. Inclusion BC responds to BC Supreme court Decision

Inclusion BC responds to the BC Court of Appeal ruling on class size and composition.
It's time to put students first. 
Inclusion BC Responds to BC Supreme Court Decision

New Westminster, B.C., April 30, 2015 - A student’s right to an education should not be negotiated in a collective agreement or limited through legislation. For almost two decades, the narrative around the composition of classrooms has treated students with special needs as “the problem,” singling out and discriminating against them as a particular group of students. The term “composition” has become so entrenched in our language that we've lost sight of the fact that we’re talking about people; about a vulnerable group of children whose needs are not being met by the education system and who have the right to be in our classrooms, the same as any other student. It is time to shift and refocus the conversation to how schools and educators accommodate this fundamental right to quality, inclusive education.

On almost a daily basis, Inclusion BC receives calls from parents of students with special needs whose children are either being sent home from school on a regular basis or have withdrawn from the public school system entirely. Our education system is failing students with special needs in ever increasing numbers. Continuing litigation and years of contract disputes about class composition will not fix it.

Since the 1990’s we've known that the inclusion of class composition language in collective agreements directly affects the placement of students with special needs. Access to the regular classroom for children with special needs is being driven by contract language, significantly affecting the choice of classrooms for students. It places emphasis on the special need of the child as a problem or potential problem, threatening their right to attend their neighbourhood school.

Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar says, “it’s time to change the conversation. Let’s start talking about the appropriate supports needed by teachers and students to ensure that all students have a positive learning experience in an inclusive school system. Let’s also talk about the right of students with special needs to be in our schools and stop singling them out as problems to be negotiated around in labour disputes or in the courts.” Resolution requires leadership and a commitment to the right of all students to receive a quality education in their neighbourhood schools with the supports they need regardless of whether they have designated special needs.

The provincial government must fund the necessary resources, professional training and staff supports that would ensure that all students, whether identified as having special learning needs or not, have the best possible educational opportunities among their peers in neighbourhood schools. Teachers, support staff, principals and district administrators must have a better understanding of positive behaviour supports and schools must have educators who are able to de-escalate a conflict with a student.