To the Editor,
All parents and guardians of children in the CCRSB system need to be concerned about the 64 Educational Assistant (EA) positions being cut. In practice, that EA assigned to a specific special needs child is needed to assist many children. Removing EA support will lead to a decrease in the attention that every child gets from his/her teacher, because teachers will need to interrupt class for behaviour problems, for prompting, for performing the myriad tiny tasks that are usually performed by EAs.
As noted in Monday's paper, the NSGEU has held meetings to raise awareness of these cuts, and to help both EAs and families fight to keep existing jobs and services.
Our newly elected MLA, Brian Skabar, did not attend meetings in his riding, but sent his 'regrets.' Noel Hurley was invited, but did not attend. I find it curious that, as a closely related union, the Nova Scotia Teacher's Union has not spoken publicly about the cuts. Teachers in the classroom will have an even more difficult job without EA support for those students who need it.
No one is truly acknowledging the chaos that September will bring for special needs children and their families.
Kids with behaviour problems that are successfully controlled with EA support and guidance will face disciplinary action and lose class time. I have two sons with autism, going into grades four and five. Both of them have been successfully included in regular classrooms, and are able to complete the same curriculum as other children.
Their success is largely due to the incredible EAs that have worked with them over the years. My fear is that special needs children who have been successfully included in regular classes, like my own boys, will end up unable to keep up academically with their peers or even remain in a regular classroom.
Noel Hurley, the superintendent, has attributed the cuts to the union's recent wage increase - in the hopes that people will ignore this issue as an overpaid union complaining. EAs in this region are paid less per hour than anywhere else in Nova Scotia.
They are paid for fewer hours per day than elsewhere in N.S. In order to better assist the children they work with, many seek extra training, and work, unpaid, because they are not allotted work time for preparation.
I don't think that these job cuts are in the best interest of any children, and I fail to see how the CCRSB plans to cope with the problems that are bound to arise. My children deserve exactly the same chances as every other child in this region, and I am determined to see that they receive the help they need to succeed.
Jessi Fogan, Amherst