I’ve been hearing the argument a lot lately that “I had 30 kids in my class when I went to school, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that back then any kids who had needs that could not be met within a ‘regular’ classroom were segregated into a self-contained room with specialized teachers, and the classroom teacher taught one curriculum at one level to their class. There weren’t multiple Individual Education Plans and kids with severe behavioural, physical, and/or mental health issues.
Now all kids are in the same room and the powers that be pat themselves on the back that we are ‘integrated’ and ‘take everyone’. I absolutely agree that we need to include all students but it does no one any good to shove a kid with exceptional needs into an already overcrowded room and shut the door and walk away. The only way it becomes a successful learning environment is with support – for the individual child, their teacher, and their classmates.
Every year there are more and more cuts to those supports. My school has 500 students, many with very high needs, and we have 0.5 Educational Assistant support for the ENTIRE school. That means one person there for half the day for 500 children JK-8. If you are a parent of one of those children who is likely slipping through the cracks, I hope you are outraged and standing behind the teachers to support us in our fight for your kids.