This is my letter to you regarding the budget and funding for special needs and children with disabilities within the Sooke School District.
First let me tell you about myself and my situation. My name is Laura Wristen. I’m a single mother of three children. My oldest son, Dawson is 11- years-of-age and has an intellectual disability. His diagnosis is moderate to profound cognitive impairment with combined type ADHD He presently attends John Muir Elementary. I am an employee of School ;District No. 62. I am an educational assistant and I work with students with special needs and disabilities.
I was informed hours for support with his EA (educational assistant) had been cut to little or no support in the afternoon. Some of his hours were needed and other students support (three students in particular) hours were needed in order to support this child with more severe disabilities in Kindergarten with limited funding when in actuality needed full time one-on-one support but the school didn’t get the funding needed to support the child adequately.
This is unacceptable. I do not blame the teachers or the educators, they are doing the best they can with what they got. But what they got is not enough. Not nearly enough. I am tired of accepting the unacceptable. I am angry and I fear especially for my son that he is not getting the education that he deserves. Stress, frustration and anxiety levels are increasing in this classroom because my son is not receiving the support he is entitled to. Therefore more disruptions and meltdowns occur on a daily basis in this classroom. It is not fair to my son, nor to the teacher, nor to the other students in the classroom. No one is benefiting from this situation.
Classrooms are not supposed to contain more than 22 students per classroom. In reality the majority of classrooms have exceeded those numbers. Not to mention not more than two special-needs or disabled students per classroom, in many cases there are more than that per classroom with shared EA support because of limited funding for one on one support.
As well as most classrooms have more than three students with IEP’s (individual education plans) for students that are not meeting their grades curriculum or need modifications to the curriculum. So our teachers are expected to meet or customize education for all these students with specialized needs, teach the regular curriculum, find time for assessments and testing, with little or no prep time.
A LAIS (language arts and integration support teacher) I spoke with told me her hours were cut this year and she still had the same demands of her job with less time to do it in. She told me she has never been so stressed out and was hearing from other teachers and educators that were considering or have already gone on stress leave.
The bottom line is there is not enough money in the budget to support the needs of the students. This problem in our educational system needs to be badly rectified. Multiple schools in the Sooke District are pleading to get more support hours and are not getting them because there is no money in the budget. We are not getting what is needed for the educational demands to be successful. More and more kids fall through the cracks in the educational system because there is no funding or help provided to them. The budget is not acceptable and everyone involved suffers. Our children, teachers and educators have the right and entitlement to receive and give a quality education.
This is why I need to express my anger, frustration and fear of what is going on in our children’s classrooms. I know many parents, teachers and educators with the same frustration and concerns. The budget needs to be changed. Our children are our future. What will the future hold for these children with inadequate or insufficient educations? Not a picture I like. What the government lacks to provide our children with today (or what dollars they save by not putting into the educational system) in the end these children will be adults possibly draining on government services (social assistance, correctional services, mental health services, drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, etc.) and coming out of the tax payers’ pockets. I just don’t want to take it anymore! Our children are literally victims and will become statistics of our inadequate and insufficient educational system and budgets.