Report on Special Education in Ontario

People for Education recently released a report on Special Education in Ontario. To access the report, please click on this link:

http://www.peopleforeducation.ca/pfe-news/new-report-shows-special-education-challenges-continue/
This report focuses on several issues, most of which CADDAC and undoubtedly many other organizations with an interest in education, have frequently heard from concerned and frustrated parents:

  1. Too few special education teachers to adequately meet the needs of special needs students. The report states: “In elementary schools, there is an average per school of 37 students with special education needs for every 1 special education teacher. In secondary schools the average ratio is 74 to 1.”
  2. The lack of psychologists in many, if not all, school boards across Canada, but especially in Northern Ontario; which leads to a two-tiered system – one in which families who have the financial resources are able to access private psycho-educational assessments, but those who lack those financial resources are forced to go without. The report states: “Only 39% of elementary schools and 32% of secondary schools have access to a regularly scheduled psychologist. In Northern Ontario, only 8% of elementary schools have regular access.”  “25% of elementary schools principals report that ‘some,’ ‘most’ or ‘all’ parents use private assessments, which can cost from $2000 to $3000 and allow families to ‘jump the queue’ for special education services. Private assessments are more prevalent in schools with higher average family incomes.”
  3. Students are being asked by school to stay home for part- of the day or several days at a time, because the school felt that it did not have the resources to manage the child’s behaviour. The report states: “49% of elementary and 41% of secondary principals report they have asked a parent to keep their child with special education needs home for at least part of the school day. Principals’ reasons for recommending a child not attend school ranged from concerns about student safety, to mental health issues that made it difficult for a student to cope with a full day, to being understaffed.”

CADDAC strongly agrees with all of People for Education’s recommendations for changes:

  • The creation of a special education ombudsman office;
  • Increased funding to ensure that no child is unable to attend school for the full day due to a shortage of resources;
  • A plan to monitor the impact of changes to the special education funding model;
  • A framework to support ongoing evaluation of special education services; and
  • A standardized process for assessment, identification and placement to provide adequate, timely and equitable services and access to education for every Ontario child.

With Ontario’s upcoming election, parents who have an interest in these concerns may wish to draw their candidate’s attention to these issues and ask what their take is on special education services within Ontario.
You can access information on how to do this here:
http://adhdawarenessweek.ca/en/?page_id=325
http://adhdawarenessweek.ca/en/?page_id=202

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