ELECTION DAY IS TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2016
NLTA ELECTION 2016
Questions and Answers
Teachers are invited to email questions for the candidates running for the offices of NLTA President and Vice-President. The questions will be listed below with the answers given from each candidate. Email your questions to Lesley-Ann Browne, NLTA Communications Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These questions will be forwarded to all candidates each Friday and answers will be posted as they are received. Please include your name and school with your question(s); however, only your name will be posted with your question(s).
QUESTION 1 from Sandy Crowley
The Child Youth Advocate Office has requested NL Speech-Language Pathologist’s (S-LP) wait list times for both assessment and intervention in both Health and Education. Many S-LP’s are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of students that are being referred for an assessment and require intervention. It is becoming harder and harder to balance time spent between the two. The allocation of S-LP units has not been increased within the Education system for as long as I can remember, yet government has increased the number of S-LP units allocated to Health at least twice within the last 16 years. How will you lobby government to increase the number of S-LP units with the Education System?
ANSWERS to Question 1
CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT
Since becoming part of our Provincial Executive some 14 years ago I have made a concerted effort to have detailed discussions with our SLP’s whenever the opportunity has presented itself. I have spoken on numerous occasions with SLP’s and have been a constant advocate for this section of our membership. I won’t provide broad rhetoric that simply restates the problem but instead will offer as your question asked for an approach to addressing the problem. The ability for the current allocation of SLP units to meet the demand for the services is simply not there. Your question speaks not to an identification of the problem but rather what I would do to seek address of the problem. One of the primary things that needs to be identified in the equation is an examination of recruitment and retention issues surrounding SLP’s. There are parts of the province where recruitment of these personnel is challenging due to the demands and caseload placed upon these individuals. This information is part of the evidence for needing an address of the situation. Further to that we need to press on the release of recommendations from the inclusionary resourcing committee that was struck as a result of the last collective agreement. This committee was bargained for in good faith to bring forward recommendations on how best to service the inclusive education model. We have plenty of evidence to support the notion that the current model of allocations is insufficient to meet the demands. Having to go to arbitration to get these recommendations brought forward is far from acceptable and as we move into the next round of negotiations as chair of the Team I will unequivocally state that this will be a point of contention as we move through the process. This is the efforts that we will make at that table. Further to that with discussions that will occur with official at both the District and Department Level that outlines that if the provision of services aren’t allocated for this will result in students that need the services not getting them. All of our members need to have reasonable expectations placed on them. SLP’s are no different. We need to ask the question as to if we are being asked to do more and we aren’t given the resources to do it what do we stop doing. Government has to be reminded that they saw the need in the Health Care system to increase the units then they have the same responsibility in Education. There are limits to what can be achieved with the current unit allocation. To expect a continuation of this is unreasonable and unmanageable for those charged with providing the service. I am interested in finding workable solutions to the problem. Had the Committee on Inclusive Education been allowed to bring forth recommendations I have every confidence that address could be found.
You are a SLP. None of the candidates running for President or Vice President can claim they are one. So we do not live your unique reality. However, I’ve been a teacher for 22 years, the past 9 of those years in a Grade 2 classroom, and my best friend, my son William’s godmother, is a SLP.
I see and hear what is happening to our SLPs every single day!
There is a tsunami of evidence building within our province proving that this government has no respect for Education. Your question and statement prove what I publicly stated during the Candidates Forum on October 29… “This government hasn’t just drawn a line in the sand, it has built a wall between government and those who deliver its services .”
You are not alone Sandy! Your cries from the trenches are heard by me and your question is one for us all to resolve, together. You are part of a Union that is 6000 members strong! We are the only ones who can heal our Education system and protect ourselves and our children. Our Collective Agreement is the promise we make to our children, our future. We will stand tall. We will protect you.
I said in my speech during the Candidates Forum that I am here to knock down walls. That wall is 36 million in cutbacks! Impossible caseloads, more supervision, and increased class sizes, are just some of the bricks in that wall. It’s a wall because it wasn’t done in consultation with us. Government created the blocks to our ability to do our jobs, and, dumped them on us without warning and without an opportunity to respond. As your President, that is a wall I intend to destroy!
On December 6, you have a clear choice. You can vote for things the way they are or you can vote for a new vision and a better way. The choice, as always, is yours.
I hope you choose me, and TOGETHER we’ll stand for our children!
CANDIDATES FOR VICE-PRESIDENT
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development defines inclusive education as a philosophy that promotes:
• the right of all students to attend school with their peers, and to receive appropriate and quality programming;
• a continuum of supports and services in the most appropriate setting (large group, small group, individualized) respecting the dignity of the child;
• a welcoming school culture where all members of the school community feel they belong, realize their potential, and contribute to the life of the school;
• an atmosphere which respects and values the participation of all members of the school community;
• a school community which celebrates diversity; and
• a safe and caring school environment
The inclusive model is supposed to emphasize collaboration where members of the school community, including specialists such as S-LP’s, work closely with families. Unfortunately, we know the inclusive model of education is woefully under resourced, particularly in the area of human resources such as S-LP’s; in short, it is lacking in the most important resource of all – adequate numbers of human resources required to make inclusion work. Government must be held accountable and reminded of its obligation to support inclusion – to respect and support the development of each and every student. Our S-LP’s are stretched beyond their limit as caseloads are just too high. Simply maintaining the status quo in terms of the number of S-LP’s is not acceptable; the demands are increasing. Government must be reminded of the national standards recommended by the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists as they pertain to the caseloads of S-LP’s. Succinctly stated, increase the number of S-LP’s to meet the increasing demand.
Furthermore, the recent panel report on the status of public education in Newfoundland and Labrador, entitled “Better Together: The Final Report of the Panel on the Status of Public Education in Newfoundland and Labrador 2015-2016” (p. 26), provides important insight into the realities of the challenges faced by and the unrealistic demands placed on our S-LP’s. This document is an invaluable resource in highlighting the challenges facing our education system as a whole and in identifying areas where investment and supports are needed such as increasing the number of S-LP’s (Recommendation 1, p. 50).
It is clear that government is not honouring effectively the needs-based component as, despite the best efforts of S-LP’s, these specialists are stretched too thin. Adequate supports for inclusive education and the provision of the requisite specialists, such as S-LP’s, is paramount, especially given the 2012 Supreme Court ruling in the Moore vs BC (Education) case. Also, our Association must continue to be proactive in reaching out to its members and the general public via data gathering instruments such as the panel on public education and surveys, in addition to gathering feedback through town hall meetings where NLTA members bring forth their concerns.
As a School Counsellor in a large school, responsible for the completion of comprehensive assessment and the management of waitlists, I understand the depth of this issue. I have brought forward these concerns while contributing to the Joint Committee on Inclusive Education this past year (in particular, the lengthy delay in assessment in certain rural areas of the province and excessive, unmanageable caseloads in our more urban centers). With an assessment list that cannot be effectively managed, how can we consider applying effective interventions for those students requiring this support?
Our schools are providing front-line services to families throughout the province and are the primary service delivery center for many areas. It is therefore essential that SLP resources be increased within educational settings. As a member of the Joint Committee on Inclusive Education and a member of the Student Support Services Advisory Committee, I will continue to argue for an increase in SLP resources with regards to both assessment and direct service. Furthermore, as a member of Provincial Executive, I recently argued for and supported the proposal for the creation of a Special Interest Council for Speech Language Pathologists, given their unique roles and needs within the education system.
As a direct answer to your question concerning how I would lobby Government on the on the issue of S-LP allocation, I would proceed in the following way:
Step 1 – Sit down with a group of SLPs, preferably the executive of the recently formed SLP Special Interest Council, to discuss the issues and build the Association’s argument. At this point we would want as much data as possible regarding the ratio of clients to SLPs both those in Healthcare and Education, and any other relevant information to help our cause.
Step 2 – Once we have the data (ammunition for the argument) we present this information to the appropriate Department of Government. The President begins speaking publicly about the need for SLPs in the schools and the conditions that exist, with the view to getting the public on side.
Step 3 – As well as the presentation to Government we do a similar presentation to the Family Youth and Child Services Office to get them on our side.
Step 4 – Monitor the progress of these talks, and, depending on the status of these talks we take the matters to School Councils and to the public.
I hope this satisfies your question and I look forward to meeting you and the SLP Special Interest Council Executive.
Yours in NLTA,
NLTA Vice-President Candidate