BURNABY – Peace River North BC Liberal candidate (and incumbent MLA) Pat Pimm's comment at an all-candidates debate that children with special needs are “causing the teachers extra time and trouble” and “have caused public school enrollment to decline,” are mean spirited and out of touch, CUPE BC President Mark Hancock said today.
Hancock said calling school time spent with special needs children “extra time and trouble” is both insulting and inaccurate.
“The time CUPE education workers and teachers spend with any of our children isn’t ‘extra or trouble,’ it’s all part of the dedicated, challenging job that EAs and teachers do to educate our children," said Hancock. "The only ‘extra’ time is the unpaid time provided by education assistants working directly with their students throughout the day. And that's time Mr. Pimm and his government have refused to fully acknowledge.”
The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents the more than 12,000 education assistants who work with specials needs kids across the province in BC public schools.
“We have worked hard and come a long way to making our public school system more inclusive and one that benefits everyone," said Hancock. "Inclusion isn’t only about special needs kids, it’s about everyone being enriched by having the entire community represented in the classroom. EAs remove barriers. These barriers can be disability based, or emotional, economic, cultural, or linguistic." Hancock dismissed Pimm’s claim that special needs kids have caused enrollment to decline from parents moving their children to private schools, saying it “continues the BC Liberals' 'fact-free' election campaign.” He said Pimm “could have saved everyone extra time and trouble by first talking to the dedicated K-12 education workers and teachers who make our public education system work.”