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Absence of inclusive education plans earns Alberta Education an F from panel chair

May 26, 2015 Shelley Svidal, ATA News Staff

Alberta Education hasn’t delivered the plans it promised for inclusive education.

That’s what Marc Arnal, chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in Alberta Schools, told the 2015 Annual Representative Assembly (ARA). Arnal and the other members of the independent panel were invited to ARA to watch delegates consider resolutions related to the panel’s report.

Arnal told delegates that, while the panel had affirmed its support for the vision and mission of the Progressive Conservative government’s Setting the Direction Framework, it had seen no evidence that Alberta Education had delivered the detailed implementation and transition plans promised in the government’s 2010 response to the framework.

“Rather, we found an erosion over time of supports for inclusion as complexity in the classroom continued to increase,” he said. “Inclusion is not simple. It is extremely complex. It requires a mobilization of the whole educational village in creating the conditions that will benefit all students without placing unreasonable expectations on teachers and administrators.”

The panel’s conclusions were confirmed by the research it commissioned from the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.

“This research confirmed the frustration, and in some cases the despair, that was being felt by many teachers. Class size is not irrelevant, nor is class composition. Central time to share the plan is also not a luxury,” Arnal said.

He expressed the panel’s hope that its recommendations would inspire a new approach to implementation. He highlighted recommendations one, five and six, which call on Alberta Education, school jurisdictions and schools to establish inclusive education advisory committees to develop respective provincial, jurisdiction and school implementation plans; guide implementation activities; and reflect on evidence gathered about implementation.

“Alberta’s education partners have a long history of working together collegially and respectfully. We can do this together, and we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,” he said.

Following Arnal’s remarks, delegates approved six stand-alone resolutions on inclusive education put forward by Provincial Executive Council in response to the panel’s report. ❚

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