Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alberta's Special Education Initiative

The CAPSC meeting last night was emotional, interesting, relieving and frustrating all at the same time.
Firstly.....the CAPSC email that went out stating that coding would be removed as of Sept 2010 was INCORRECT. Coding will be removed EVENTUALLY but there is no immediate plan or timeline to do so.
Wow. Well, that was an immediate relief and shocking that such a mistake could be made and relayed to so many people. It was impactful...that we all how I felt...along with the other 200 attendees last night. 200! There's usually only 40 at these school and parent council meetings. Which is sad. A city of a million people...and such low attendance? Anyway....
The Minister of Education has committed to redesigning Special Education in Alberta. Setting the Direction. This will be a system of INCLUSION for all students. A system that focuses on one's abilities...not disability. A system in which front loading, coding and IPPs are not needed. A system in which the "wait to fail" system of current days is obliterated.
"Every Student, Every Day, No Exceptions."
One where teachers fuel the change. Where teachers are professionally educated & trained in Special Ed and given the technical skills and support to effectively have a fully inclusive classroom. I could go on and on but you can read the framework here.
Also, this is all THEORETICAL at this point. PHILOSOPHICAL. There is no action plan. There are steering committees and such but that's it at this point. There will be NO FURTHER FUNDING to make this happen. All this will take place under the CURRENT funding structure. As education is running at a deficit here in Alberta. Should be interesting to overhaul the system with no extra funds, don't you think?
It all sounds pretty and looks lovely on or if it will every be rolled out is something else. There needs to be real examples, a real plan, the people involved, all politicians on board, etc, etc, etc.
Of course, I didn't let you all down! Did I sit quietly, with my hands folded demurely in my lap and say nothing? No. Did I stay completely in control and calm? No. At the end of the panel discussion I managed to make a slight fool of my emotional self.
One particular stakeholder, Kathryn Burke, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta, is phenomenal. She GETS it. She has lived this with her two LD sons. She's real, she's political, she's powerful and an inspiration as an advocate/mother for LD kids. So.....after the discussion, I approached her with the other panel members ( two gov't officials and the CBE Director of Learning Support) to tell her how listening to her speak was like coming home and that I appreciate her work and it gives me hope for my child with in the school world and....I started to CRY!
I am such a crier. At the most inopportune times. It rocks me to the core as I don't expect to do so and then the tears start. Ugh! I hate that. Wrong place. Wrong time. What the??
Kathryn was wonderful about it. Got tears in her eyes. Hugged me. Gave me her card. Told me to hang in there and that it is only now....many years later....that she can talk about the challenges her family has faced.
I cried. In front of the panel for the Setting the Direction Framework Gov't of AB officials.
Today I just shake my head at myself and hope that little teary moment makes the gov'ts view of "special education kids" real. Not just numbers. Not just a document. Real kids. Real important.

1 comment:

  1. TEARS!!!! that is why we LOVE you so much - you care about all things important to you and to your family. Let the tears flow and show who you really are. Glad that maybe things might be OK for our W or for little guys in the future.