Kirby demands action on special education deficit
NDP Education Critic Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) is demanding the Dunderdale government take action in the upcoming budget to ensure children in the province’s schools have access to the special education programs and services they need.
"Based on what parents and professionals are telling me, it is clear that our schools are experiencing a severe deficit in providing vital special education supports," said Kirby.
"Students with autism spectrum disorder in particular are falling through the cracks in the school system," he said. "Despite government’s inclusive education rhetoric, we are seeing huge inequities, inequalities, and disparities in the quality and quantity of educational services for students with special needs.”
Kirby suggests that the ongoing problems in special education could be addressed with front-line specialized student supports including special education assistants and autism support workers.
"Parents and teachers are at their wits’ end trying to support students with special educational needs. They are counting on the Dunderdale government to deliver a plan to deal with these needs in next week's budget," Kirby said.
The MHA has previously advised the Minister of Education that some parents in Newfoundland and Labrador have been forced to pay thousands of dollars out of their own pockets for private special education services that the school system is failing to provide. “And those are the families that can somehow scrape up the money to get the help their children need,” said Kirby. “What about families who cannot come up with the funds? What happens to their children?”