Opening Statement



Thursday, 1 December 2011

Our Ad Hoc Special Education Survey


It's December! A little snow arrived here in Toronto yesterday. It melted in a few hours, but was a fitting way to end November. The snow is rather late this year. Fine by me. Now Christmas holidays are just around the corner!


Ad Hoc Special Education [AHSE]: Our survey went out to the Department Heads today. It's in the form of an internet link to Survey Monkey so it can be filled out quickly and conveniently on line. It was sent by the main office to all of our secondary school Special Education Department Heads.We are asking the heads to please share the Survey Monkey link with the Special Education teachers at their school. It basically just asks you to prioritize a Special Education [SPED] list of the issues that are most important to you in your departments and within the classroom.


I am the executive liaison for the committee again this year. This blog is not an official union communique but I'd like to share some public  information with you because the work of the committee is so leading edge.We got off to a good start last year. Our Special Education teachers and Department heads seemed to find our meetings with the board superintendents here at the union office a good chance to directly and informally talk and share information we all need to know. The meetings were set up and run according to Robert's Rules of Order to maintain a sense of decorum. They seemed to go over very well. The dialogue was very interesting, informative and constructive. The superintendents seemed to find it useful too, and will be invited back, if possible, for more meetings, between January and the end of the school year.


These are the official terms of the AHSE committee:


To gather classroom and Special Education teacher input on trends and concerns in Spec Ed. 
To outline developing trends, patterns and issues/concerns from TSU members in the field. 
To determine implications for classroom and special education teachers of Ministry direction and policy in Special Education. 
To determine implications for classroom and special education teachers of TCDSB direction and policy in Special Education.

To create an  Issues, Trends + Concerns paper on Special Education with recommendations for TSU executive and our membership.
We have not had a union special education review now for some time. There have certainly been a lot of changes, with the new policies and directives from the Ministry of Education and the school board increasing our current activities far beyond the Special Education services we were providing our students even a few years ago. My foreign readers may not know this but in Canada, all our students are entitled to a free elementary and secondary school education. This includes all of our exceptional students, regardless of their exceptionality. Our committee will be reporting back to the executive, our Collective Bargaining Team and our members, on the grassroot concerns of our Special Education teachers and Department Heads. After we survey your issues, trends and concerns we will make a number of important recommendations.
I would really like to see  a Joint Special Education Committee put in place between our teachers union and the board in the next contract. We have them for Safe Schools, Professional Development. Why not Special Education? It could help us better co-ordinate and implement our programs to best help our students. Well, I am just the facilitator  of this process. The committee, the union executive and our teacher members will decide which way they want to go with the summaries from our research, but it's certainly something do-able, timely and constructive to consider.
The first step of our research for the 2011-12 school year has been sent out to your schools now. It is due by 4pm next Thursday December 8th. If you don't get it in your email please ask your department head. The more we get back, the more reliable our summary can be. More in depth surveys and other forms of research will soon follow. Please get involved. Fill the survey out today.

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