Saturday, November 19, 2016


Mr. James Dinn


Mr. Dinn:

Thank-you to you and the NLTA for your active engagement and interest in the 2016 NL English District School Board Election. The NLTA has been a significant proponent of participating in this election. From my perspective the NLTA has done more to promote awareness of the election, and the issues, than any other educational stakeholder in the province.

It has been a pleasure working with you, members of your executive and staff over the last few years in he cause of public education.

I think you will find that my answers to the 4 questions will be in line with the many responses we have presented to government, teachers, school councils and the media.

1. What role should class composition play in determining class size?

As President of the NLFS, I campaigned relentlessly, to bring forth a better awareness of the challenges facing classroom teachers. One of the greatest challenges is the result of the provincial government failing miserably to provide the necessary resources to make inclusive education work.  The number of special needs children (from intellectual and physical disabilities, to emotional and behavioral issues)and  ESL students, in any given classroom can change the dynamics of the whole. Without an adequate number of counselors and teacher assistants to meet the diversity of the student population, teachers are finding it harder and harder to meet the needs of every classroom.  I would like to see composition numbers tat  reflect the reasonable ability of educators to meet the needs of every child. Our teachers should not have to face significantly different workloads based on the composition of a class. 

As stated on my web-page - - 
  • We to meet the serious mental health and addiction issues faced by our students. I would work towards finding the resources to implement the recommendations of the NL Councillors and Psychologists Association and the NL Federation of School Councillors. This would see a ratio of 1 Guidance Counsellor for 250 students and Educational Psychologists at 1:1000 students.
  • I will work towards ensuring that the provincial government provides the resources to make inclusive education work.
  • I am opposed to the slow and methodical policy of the provincial government to increase cap sizes. The province should re-establish the cap sizes recommended by the Teach er Allocation Commission Report.

2. Do you support placing students in combined grades when enrollment supports single grading?

No. As President of the NLFSC, I came out swinging against split grading - unless it is absolutely necessary,  as in the case of small rural schools. The priority in determining class sizes should be the need of students not attempts by government to hire less teachers. At the very least I would like to see split classes abolished for grades undergoing standardized testing.  Additionally, if the practice is going to continue (for fiscal reasons), teachers with increased workloads should be provided with the support and training to teach these classes instead of expecting them to adapt to extra workloads.

From personal experience, as a father  of a child who has challenges focussing, I do not feel combined classes offer him the monitoring or the environment he needs to learn.

3. Do you think inclusive education should be adequately resourced so that all students can achieve success in the school system?

Yes. The provincial government is failing all of our students when the refuse to adequately resource inclusive education. Every classroom in our province is unique, the cookie cutter approach to education is no longer effective. The broad scope of individual diversity in each classroom demands that classroom teacher receive adequate supports  to achieve the highest possible educational outcomes.

Teachers, administrators and all students deserve the resources they need to make inclusive education a success. Teachers and students need the professional training, resource teachers, councillors and adequate teaching assistants for teacher and student success. I do not feel that government or the public appreciate the time and effort that goes into preparing education plans, education material, accessing students and balancing inclusive classrooms with out adequate resources.

4. Do you believe that Full-Day Kindergarten is properly resourced?

Despite the evidence to the contrary, many programs in our schools are not properly resourced. School councils are raising money for computer servers and other educational needs that should be provided by government. Teachers should not be on the hook for resources to teach children. Some schools can fundraise easier than others. All children should have access to the same materials and resources demanded for any program. I asked this question earlier in the year when I was president of the NLFSC, does Minister Kirby have to purchase pens, paper and servers to do his job?

If you, or any member of your organization has further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Peter Whittle

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