As I write this, I struggle to be fair. I know that Calgary is the front lines and there is still s trickle down effect that needs to happen with the New Education Act and Inclusion. Regulations and policies have to be set out in stone. So, as I struggle to be fair, they, the CBE, don't know exactly what inclusion can look like yet on those front lines.
Having said all that, I was lucky enough to participate in a presentation and discussion with the Chair of the Board of Trustees, the Superintendent of Learning Services, the Superintendent herself and even an Advisor on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I knew that the audience was primarily parents of students who have special learning needs, but I don't think the CBE was aware of that, or if they were, they only addressed it in Question Period.
The CBE's presentation on inclusion focused on bullying, preventing overall discrimination - but NOTHING in their presentation other than a passing mention of the Human Rights Act, talked specifically about the elephant in the room: Special Education.
The CBE has grand statements, which I think they can follow through on with a little reorganizing, like "Learning is what makes each student unique." "Attending to each student is what makes our community stronger." "We would like public education to work for all, not just typical children."
To me, it felt like propaganda, not a plan or even a pathway to a discussion BUT I hope that the CBE learned as much as the parents on the ground did. I think as parents, the attendees learned:
I know not everything can be decided yet on what inclusion will look like, so I hope that this is the beginning of an open and frank discussion on what students & parents need from the system. I am hopeful the next conversation is actually informative as well as a back and forth - because those of us trying to support the students aren't the planners, we unfortunately have to wait for the system to come up with what they are willing to do, so we can have some input.