Parent Perspective: “No Changes Going Forward To District Programs”

This parent made the statement below on a social media page.The parent presented in the past to the SD61 Board, asking that the District program that served his child in a “low incidence” category be kept open. You might hear that the program is still in existence. Analysis from a parent’s view below.

It is my understanding that the last of the District Low Incidence programs (Esquimalt, Arbutus et al) morphed last year from the traditional low incidence life skills programs into a hybrid Resource Room-Inclusion Support model. No consultation occurred. Although there has been communication that further efforts to see these programs change are not expected,  the programs will continue to change and phase out over the next few years. From the perspective of parents this will look like “changes are happening” or the programs are being cut back etc.

The fact is that the programs  are no longer conducting intake of new students at the District level into these programs so the programs will fade away as the current students age out and local school catchment cannot keep up sufficient student numbers to maintain the ability to deliver a life skills program.

During this phase out students will face increasing pressure to move into “inclusive” classrooms (that really are not inclusive at all with out sufficient resource in place ) as student numbers in the program decline. After these students have moved on and graduated with their school leaving certificates in hand  the Life Skills low incidence programs will no longer exist. Resource Room-Inclusion support will be the order of the day. This means a loss of the ability to deliver a life skills based program for students that benefit from such.

But if a student is designated “Gifted”, grouping by special needs designation is desirable [from a SD61 high school website]:

In order to best meet the learning needs of gifted students, the Challenge Program groups students with similar aptitude together. Research consistently suggests this grouping promotes maximum engagement of students, and hence maximizes the potential of achieving or exceeding mandated learning outcomes. The instruction is modified to address the specific learning needs of gifted students using a variety of techniques and alternative assignments.….the student receives a Special Needs designation as Gifted, Creative, and Talented. Students are then grouped for each of their academic courses rather than just for an individual course. This grouping allows the students to get to know their peers very well, thereby creating the ideal learning environment. In terms of instruction, teaching techniques are tailored to the specific aptitude of these students, including coordination of learning between courses and grades….It simply addresses the unique learning styles of these particular students.

So, if you’re smart and highly verbal, hangout with your peers in community of learners. If you have difficulty  communicating and maybe even engaging, well, no, you don’t get to do that.

About Diane McNally