Editorial- Minister Hunter- What would you do?

MY MBA

If your child had a severe learning disability and you had exhausted all the resources at your home board, what would you do? Your child was about to enter grade 9 and they were reading at an SK reading level.

You have tried tutors, special education classes, LD classes, your child has an IEP and an IPRC already in place and there is no progress being made- where do you turn?

You know that there are Demonstration schools in the Province of Ontario that meet the needs of children with Severe Learning Disabilities and you have heard about the hundreds of success stories. You understand that at demonstration schools children learn how to read and they succeed. You have been told that children can gain between 2-6 grade levels in just one short year at a demonstration school. You did your research and after a long and lengthy process of decision making you decide to apply for your child to attend one of these schools.

When you receive the application package you learn that the application is very costly, time consuming and you are also told that it will take between 8 months to a year to complete. You feel overwhelmed; but you carry on; as you know that these schools could help your child. This is your last hope.

You persevered and you completed the necessary paperwork. You are now hopeful and so thankful that these schools exist.

You are invited to take a tour of the school with your child and you see with your own eyes the programs that are offered and the success of the children. As you walk the halls and enter the classrooms you see children thriving, smiling, laughing and learning. You meet the dedicated staff and the knowledgeable and kind principal and you leave the school knowing that your child will fit in perfectly in this school environment. You drive home with a new sense of hope and gratitude.

Now you wait- you wait for months. You wait anticipating either a phone call or a letter telling you that your child fits the criteria and that they would like to interview you and your child. You start to dream about what your child could be and you know that no matter what your child's self confidence and self esteem will be raised because they could go to a school where they will not be an outsider. You know that all children at demonstrations schools have similar learning styles and for once in your child's life-they will fit in and be accepted by their peers.

The day finally comes. You have a letter in your hands that could potentially change your child's life forever. You hesitate , then slowly open the letter. You see the letterhead and the first line- then everything goes blurry.

You can't believe what you are reading. Could it be true? They are stopping applications to hold consultations!

You sit down and you cry. You cry for your child, you cry for yourself and then you make phone calls to the Demonstration School to find out what is going on. You need to understand how this could have happened. The rug was just pulled from under you and you need answers. Unfortunately, due to the consultation process teachers and school administrators are not allowed to answer your questions.

The one school that could make the impossible possible is now not available. Now what do you do? Where do you go? Who do you call?

Your child is now going into grade 10 and still reading at a grade 1 level. You are no further ahead than you were 1 1/2 years ago.

It isn't a nice walk is it Minister Hunter? The unfortunate part is that so many families have had to walk this walk.

If these schools stay open parents would have a choice, children will have an opportunity to grow, develop and learn.

Without these schools you have nowhere to turn! So now what would you do?

You would do exactly what we are doing Minister Hunter. You would do everything you can to ensure these schools stay open. Not only for your child but for all other children in Ontario who need these schools. Demonstration school are successful. The intensive, remedial literacy programs that they provide ensure success. The residential program ensures children grow, develop, gain confidence, self esteem and make friends. The residential program and the educational program combined develop the entire child. They work and children succeed!

These schools need to stay open for generations to come. Its' your decision. While making your decision think back about the walk you just went on and decide on a brighter future for all children in the Province of Ontario.

A concerned parent and an Advocate to Save Provincial Demonstration Schools.

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