"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Struggling in a world of 'normal' "

I see there's some nice front page coverage in today's Chronicle Herald on the "possible ramifications if the government decides to cut tuition subsidies for parents who send their special-needs children to private schools, putting more 'special' children back into the public school system".

In addition to the "Struggling in a world of 'normal'" article, there's also the "Self-proclaimed public school success" article, which details the story of a 23 year dyslexic University student who managed to make it through the system with a lot of help from the right kind of teachers. The kind we all pray for all our kids to have.

The first article details the concerns of many parents, including those associated with the Equal Education Assocation of Nova Scotia, if the Tuition Support program is discontinued by 2010, as is recommended in the latest Special Education Report. One of the many things that bugs me about the recommendation to end the Tuition Support program is the lack of logic involved. The article sets out the supposed "reasoning" involved in the recommendation to end the program:


The report says special-needs kids should have access to good education in public schools across the province, not just in private schools in the Annapolis Valley and metro Halifax.

"The Department of Education must adequately fund school boards to enable them to respond to the learning needs of all students, including those with special needs," the report says.


It would appear that the Department of Education agrees.

Department spokesman Kevin Finch acknowledges "there may be times where (such students) have to attend a private school." But "the ultimate goal is to have every student’s needs met in the public school system," he adds.


And even the Nova Scotia Teachers Union is in agreement, as it takes the position that "adequate funding should be directed to the public system".

"Our position would be to take that money, to put it back into the public system to address the needs of all students, along with additional funds that are essential to address the needs of special-needs students," says Donnelly.

. . . . .


But Donnelly says the money — $1 million for the support program this year — could go a long way in the public schools, from lowering class sizes to making sure schools with more learning-disabled kids get more direct funding. The money for public education," she says, "needs to remain in public education."


All right. Sounds basically okay. But here's where it gets cute. Watch the logic break down. Although it may be bad form to "quote oneself":

... the Committee then goes on to state that when it has been determined that a student's need cannot be met within the Board system, the Guidelines Regarding Tuition Assistance for Students with Special Needs should be followed. So, in other words, it is recommended that the Tuition Support Program be discontinued but the Tuition Assistance Program been left in place. This despite the same statutory obligation on the governmnent and the school boards...

The first problem with this scenario [putting aside the bizarreness of the result as noted above] is that the Tuition Assitance Program is not mandatory. Sec. 64(3)(c) of the
Education Act gives authority for the Program and states that school boards "may offer tuition assistance". At present, only three school boards offer the program in the Province, namely HRM, the AVRSB and the CCSRB. If you reside under the jurisdiction of one of the other five regional boards in the Province, you are, quite simply, out of luck.

And the Committee had difficulty with the limited access to the Tuition Support Program?? At least with the Tuition Support Program, a student had the option of traveling to one of the three schools. But with the Tuition Assistance Program, willingness to travel doesn't help one bit if your school board chooses not to offer the program.

The second problem is that tuition assistance is notoriously hard to receive, even from those school boards that do actually offer the program...


Well, you can read the rest of it here.

At any rate, I do believe I feel a letter to the editor or maybe even an article for either the Daily News letterstoeditor@hfxnews.ca or the Chronicle Herald letters@herald.ca coming on. What about you?



2 comments:

dayana said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Margaret

http://grantsforeducation.info

dayana said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Margaret

http://grantsforeducation.info