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Today Education Minister Zach Churchill announced he’s hiring two consultants from Ontario to evaluate his government’s performance at implementing the final report from the Commission on Inclusive Education.
With all due respect to these individuals, spending almost $500,000 on consultants from Ontario (one a former political appointment to a Liberal government) is no way to build confidence in what needs to be a transformative process.
The Minister should have followed the advice of the Commission and created an Institute of Inclusive Education led by an Executive Director and a volunteer board representing key stakeholder groups dedicated to advocating on behalf of students and better public education.
As the Inclusive Education report specifically says, “parents of children with special needs must be present where decisions about inclusive education are made.” However, instead of empowering parents and communities, the government is avoiding stakeholder oversight in favour of two handpicked and high-priced consultants.
Contrary to Minister’s Churchill’s talking points, the Institute of Inclusive Education did not come with a large price tag. In fact, according to government records the only paid position within the Institute would have “replaced an already existing position within the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development,” and “membership would not be paid.”
Instead of adopting a cost effective and collaborative approach for ensuring that students are receiving the support they need, the government has resorted to the same process that led to the Glaze report in 2017. Parents have seen how consultants’ findings have been cherry picked and resulted in secrecy, lack of transparency and decreased confidence in public education’s decision making for students.
Unlike Avis Glaze, we hope the consultants do actively engage with parents and the NSTU as they proceed with this evaluation. However, today’s decision is a further step away from the findings of the Inclusive Education report. Minister Churchill has wasted a golden opportunity to increase transparency and build bridges within our public education system.
– Paul Wozney