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The BC Refed Response to Special Needs Students

December 13 2013

By N. E. (Liz) Galenzoski

Imagine that you lock your difficult-to-handle child in a room with only a mat on the floor and leave the child there for a period of time, sometimes as long as three hours. What do you think would happen to you once a government agency or the public became aware of the story?

According to a news item, this is common practice in some BC elementary schools as a means by which to manage difficult students.

BC Education Minister, Peter Fassbender, responded to the story and was quoted as saying, “ ... he will initiate a discussion about policies and practices.”
Read it here. He further commented that, if any changes are made, they will be made after, “ ... a very well-thought out decision ... “ [had been reached].

This method of behaviour control is abuse to a student who is not at home with family who probably love, protect, and nurture the child. The child/student is in an authoritarian, often deemed an unfriendly environment by reality or by perception. It is, intentional or not, child abuse at the highest level by people who collectively have a fiduciary duty to protect and educate children.

This method of handling a difficult-to-handle child by parents would likely have the child removed from the family/home and the parent(s) would be charged.

The government’s reaction is to discuss it, and then decide what, if anything, will be changed.

It is important to note that the government is not in session, which means the government can do whatever it likes, and the members will not be questioned by the official opposition.

Democracy? Hardly!

BC Refed calls upon the premier to stop this abuse immediately. The government can and must provide alternatives for these students.

On-call teachers and aids or assistants can be brought in to sit independently with each child who cannot function in the classroom without disrupting the entire education process. These teachers can read to the student, play games with the student, sing to the student, teach the student, and keep the student safe and calm. A teacher, assistant, or aid can nurture each student in the educational environment in a positive way until government officials can have their discussion.

It is government and the supporting bureaucracy who originally created this problem by integrating children with special needs into regular classrooms, claiming they (the special needs students) have every right to be there, which is neither in question nor the issue. Having special needs students, who cannot function in that environment (in a regular classroom) is not beneficial to the special needs student, the regular student, or the staff.

Some special needs students may never be able to function in regular classes. To subject them to a classroom environment, before they are able to cope, is sure to cause difficulties for all participants of a class.

While the government sits on its collective couch, unwilling to face the opposition, which leaves the public no recourse, is more evidence that the public is as helpless as the special needs student who is being mistreated.

Under a direct democracy government for the people, by the people, a minister
would take action instead of glibly ignoring serious mistreatment of students who cannot defend themselves in cases such as described here.

The failure of this government to expect the same standard of care from its members as it demands from parents speaks to the lack of democracy and influence the public has in the current system. This is not a democracy.