I just received an updated list of motions coming forward to this year's BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Council's Annual General Meeting.
Of particular interest:
BCCPAC call on Boards of Education to cease to install Wi‐Fi and other wireless networks in schools where other networking technology is feasible
This is evidently a topic of discussion in more districts than Victoria. Parents and teachers and community members have expressed concern that the health impact of wireless technologies on children is largely unknown.
that BCCPAC urge the Ministry of Universities, Innovation and Corporate Initiatives Division, and the British Columbia College of Teachers, to require wide‐ranging teacher training in special education needs. All teaching positions should require comprehensive training in special education to qualify for graduation and to receive certification. Continued professional development in special education should be a mandatory requirement to maintain certification. This would ensure classroom teachers are equipped with current up‐to‐date information and strategies in order to support the diverse learning needs of students and to help identify students that should be referred to specialists for further service
This motion is interesting more for the problem identified than the proposed solution. In my experience, many teachers are fully aware of students requiring the service of specialists, but school districts simply don't provide them anymore. In Victoria, not only are wait times for testing measured in years, but I am now hearing that teachers cannot even get students onto the waitlists in some cases.
Across BC, since 2002 we have lost 81 counseling positions and 648 special education teachers. Special education teachers typically have an additional diploma or Masters program in special education and are highly qualified.
Moreover, classes are now regularly overloaded with too many students having identified special needs. A classroom teacher simply cannot meet the educational needs of every child when classes are too large and the needs are many. In 2009/10 there were 11, 959 classes that had four or more students with an individual education plan. In my experience, even the most well trained teacher does not have enough minutes in the day or hours in the week to meet the individual needs of every students when the needs are so great and so varied.
BCCPAC strongly urge the Ministry of Education to immediately change the current Class Size section in the school act (76.1) affecting class size for Kindergarten students to the following:
76.1 (1) A board must ensure that the average size of its classes, in the aggregate, does not exceed:
a) for kindergarten, 12 students,
b) for grades 1 to 3, 21 students,
c) for grades 4 to 7, 28 students, and
d) for grades 8 to 12, 30 students.
(2) Despite subsection (1), a board must ensure that the size of any primary grades class in any school in its school district does not exceed
(a) for kindergarten, 16 students and
(b) for grades 1 to 3, 24 students.
I'm happy to see class size on the agenda for parents, and hope there will also be discussion about the recent court ruling on bills 27 and 28 and its implications. Teachers are calling on the government to immediately restore the funding needed to ensure previous class size and composition levels are met this fall. This motion actually calls for even lower class sizes in Kindergarten and is a welcome addition to the discussion.