Alberta schooling minister set to alter particular schooling requirements with out public session

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Ashley Joannou Alberta's Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange. Alberta’s Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange. Photo delivered by

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Education Minister Adriana LaGrange plans to change standards for special education in Alberta without public consultation, raising concerns among parents of disabled students.

According to a June 11 letter signed by LaGrange and received by Postmedia, the 2004 changes to the Special Education Standards are in final approval and are “expected to be released this spring.”

The letter states that LaGrange plans to update the standards via ministerial decree, which means they will not be debated or debated in the legislature before they are implemented.

Several organizations that have consulted with the government on the changes told Postmedia that they will not be allowed to comment until the document is public.

Special education advocacy officials Hold My Hand Alberta say the current standards, last changed 17 years ago by ministerial decree, need to be updated to improve access to special education, but they believe it should be done publicly the type of polls or round table discussions seen before other policy changes.


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“We’ve asked for an update for over a year, but we’re concerned about the way it’s being handled because it looks like there’s something to hide,” said Keltie Marshall, the seven children with different Has disabilities.

The standards for special education are the basic expectations for the education of students with disabilities in the province. You set expectations, including regarding ratings, professional standards, classroom placement, and individualized programming.

Among other things, the standards allow for tests and exams to be placed, require that an inclusive classroom be the first option for students, and that staff be trained to identify students with special needs and provide programs.

“These are the documents we as parents would refer to if we were concerned about how our children’s education is being handled,” Marshall said.

The UCP 2019 election platform promised to update the standards “to reflect new technologies and practices, ensure accountability for quality inclusive education, and protect the vision of parental choice”.

LaGrange was not available for an interview this week. In a statement, her press spokeswoman Nicole Sparrow said that virtual engagement meetings were held with “educational partners” in December 2020 and January 2021 and that “the debate on the draft ministerial regulation is still in progress”.

Sparrow listed more than a dozen groups that she said had been consulted by the government, including the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta Deans of Education, the Alberta School Boards Association, and the Association of Independent Schools and Colleges in Alberta .


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She cited the Autism Society Alberta, Inclusion Alberta, and the Premier’s Council on Persons with Disabilities as examples of groups consulted that “include perspectives from students and families with disabilities”.

Hold My Hand Alberta said the majority of people surveyed were school-related associations independent from children in need of special education and the stakeholders consulted did not cover the full range of disabilities.

Member Shantel Sherwood, who has two children with disabilities, said she would like to see the government consult and support parents and occupational therapists and speech therapists so they can understand the barriers that exist.

“I would have loved to see you talk to people who really work with our children,” she said.

The group wants the introduction of the new standards to be paused so that parents can be properly counseled across the province.

“It affects our children and we had no way of knowing that it was happening. We had no way of contributing and we won’t be able to stop it, ”said Sarah Doll, who has two children with disabilities.

Parents say they don’t believe the government will make decisions about standards outside of the public eye after addressing other issues like changing funding for early intervention programs known as PUFs or the much-criticized draft K-6 curriculum.

“I don’t think it will adequately protect our children’s right to education and everything that goes with it because we don’t have it now,” said Doll.


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“Why would the UCP, which has done all of these things to harm our children, do better without asking or knowing or listening to the parents?”

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said there should be wider consultations.

“If you want to change something as fundamental to children’s learning as the way children with disabilities are supported, be sure to invite more people into the conversation, not fewer,” she said.

“And you should make sure that the parents of children who will face the consequences have a voice in the process.”

sparrow said the government expected to share the new standards “in the near future”.

“Parents can continue to work with their school boards and elected trustees to strengthen the inclusive learning environment in their schools,” she said. / ashleyjoannou

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