BETTER LANGLEY: With a shortage of SEAs working with our vulnerable learners – should we continue to rely on casual labour or push for the district to hire more full time staff?
BETTER LANGLEY FAVOURITE ANSWERS HIGHLIGHTED IN GREEN (COMING SOON)
A note about highlighted answers: Better Langley favourites are selected based on discussions with dozens of parents, teachers, local politicians. Each question had select criteria that the aforementioned stakeholders found to be of the greatest importance and I have done my best to represent these. Additionally, my own academic background in political science, philosophy, religious studies, and real estate all provide its own knowledge base, process of critical thought, and, yes, biases. In order to reduce personal bias toward any candidate or organization, however, answers were read anonymously, separate from the candidate before selecting a “favourite” to highlight.
SCHOOL TRUSTEE CANDIDATE ANSWERS (by ballot order)
RAI (Contract with Langley): No I would not rely on casual labour and would most definitely push the district to hire more full time staff.
I am a parent of a diverse learner and know first hand how important it is for diverse learners to get one on one support from Special Education Assistants.
It is very important for diverse learners to get proper one on one support from Special Education Assistants. Post-secondary education training programs for Special Education Assistants are not consistent, and often unqualified staff are hired to remedy the shortage.
This method does not align with providing students equitable education. It is vital that provincially mandated standards of practice for education assistants be established in British Columbia. The current training is open to all high-school graduates and includes a two-week program; there is no requirement for any early childhood training.
I will lobby for additional resources for diverse learners that will include more staff support. It is critical that teaching assistants have sufficient and consistent education and training, and understand their job. Additionally, ongoing training beyond the two-week program is essential to support the Education Assistants, as they are the foundation of inclusivity in the education system.
I will work actively with the school board yo more Special Education Assistants and fill the shortage of teachers.
LOCKHART (Independent): It is in my opinion that we need to push for more full time staff and “make whole” our current SEAs who want to work a regular full time schedule but are not permitted to do so. We should not be relying solely on the Temporary Full-Time SEA where the individual is forced to have an extended, unpaid break in their day. These are educated professionals and should be treated as such. However, I would ask that the board sits down for discussion with the Teacher’s Association to ensure we are advocating for the appropriate support, prior to making any decisions.
PERREAULT (Independent): As of three weeks ago we had all our identified SEA posted positions filled and now currently have seen 30 new identified postings go out. Our on-call staff will remain active to ensure the District can support students when absences occur. As a parent who navigated the system for Educational Assistants to be present and for Inclusion for all my children, while engaging in full advocacy toward the MoEC, I understand full well the critical need to keep my eyes on this conversation which is central to my role as a Trustee, Advocate and Counsellor.
DICKINSON (Contract with Langley): Our staffing issues are ongoing and persistent, so to believe that casual labour can fill the growing needs of our students would be imprudent.
TURNER (Independent): Due to the issues with your online account, I have chosen not to fill out the survey.
WAKELIN (Independent): We must stop viewing supports for students as an “option” and recognize the well-being of students and staff require the investment.
WILSON: (Independent) This is an interesting question because in Langley our Special Education Assistant positions are all full time and our casual employees are only employed to cover positions when an employee has called in sick or is on a leave. Having been an SEA myself I will always advocate for more SEAs.
ROSS (Independent): We are hiring all the time. Most people are only interested in full time and that is where we should put our energies.
FOX (Independent): To address the shortage of qualified SEA’s in the District, the District has taken an innovative and positive step forward in this regard. With the recently signed partnership with the University of the Fraser Valley a dual graduation credit is now available for senior high school students to get a head-start on this wonderful career opportunity. This is a bold step to working toward dealing with the shortage of SEA’s in the system.
The push to full-time opportunities is always one that has to be balanced with what the individual SEA wants. Most, if not all, SEA position hours are reflective of the school system hours which does not easily equate in to full time positions. I feel that programs like Active Beyond the Bell provide opportunities for extended hours of employment for SEA’s if they so choose.
NEUFELD (Contract with Langley): Hire more full-time staff. The current staffing levels result in some of our students being denied the same educational opportunities as their peers. Educational equity issues are often the result of understaffing SEAs, or a Failure to Fill situation.
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