Advocates for people with developmental disabilities say the province’s planned investment of $1-million for segregated schools for special needs children is a massive step backwards.
Earlier this week, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced the money would fund a total of 15 special education schools throughout the province.
But Executive Director of Inclusion BC, Faith Bodnar, says the investment creates a two-tier system and sends out the wrong message.
“We know from the history of segregated education that it’s not best practice. We moved away from segregated schools 40 years ago to put kids into regular classrooms and the best practice in the education system is inclusion and we know how to do it and we’ve known how to do it a long time, and we need to be aware of where we’ve come from or we’re going to end up repeating history.”
Bodnar says studies show that all children perform better academically with the inclusion of special needs kids in the classroom.
“We need to make sure that we safeguard our public education system and the other issue is that children belong together in their neighbourhood schools with their peers, not segregated.”
The funds are more than doubling the number of designated Special Education Schools, of which there are currently six, and provide $2,000 to support each qualified student, many of whom are autistic.