"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thar' She Blows - Special Education Report Released


So. The latest version of the Special Education Report (more accurately the Review Commmittee Report and Recommendations arising from the Minister's Review of Services for Students with Special Needs) has been released.

The Report contains 27 recommendations, a significant number of which focus on issues surrounding students with learning disabilities. But its important to remember that the Recommendations are just that. Its up to the Minister of Education to decide whether to accept any or all of the Recommendations. Pages 4-16 of new Report contain the goverment's resposes to the 34 recommendations were accepted in the 2001 Report.

On a side note, I note that the preparation of the 2001 Report involved numerous intensive focus groups - with parents, educational assistants, teachers and others. In contrast, it is stated that this report was based upon "consultation via public meetings in all eight regional school boards" and "public consultation via on-line and written response forms".

At any rate, here are a few recommendations of note, with many, many more to follow in another post:

  • The Department of Education appoint a provincial learning disabilities consultant by 2008

  • The Department of Education develop a provincial learning disabilities strategy by the 2008-2009 school year

The Report notes that a Provincial Learning Disability Strategy would emphasize the importance of early identification and early intervention - currently, most school boards require a student to be 3 years behind in at least one subject area before they can even be considered for receiving servies from a learning disabilities program.

  • The Minister announce the end of the Tuition Support Program effective June 30, 2010
The Report notes the limited access available to the Tuition Support Program [there are only 3 schools (two in HRM and one in the Annapolis Valley) eligible for the program] and uses the government's statutory responsibility "to provide a publicly funded school system whose primary mandate is to provide education programs and services for students to enable them to develop their potential and acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy society and a prosperous and sustainable economy" [Education Act, s. 2] and the requirement that a school board "make provision for the education and instruction of all students enrolled in its schools and programs" [Education Act, s. 64(2)(a)] to find that the Tuition Support Program is not appropriate as the Department must adequately fund school boards to enable them to respond to the learning needs of all students, including students with special needs.

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