Just when I thought everything was kinda, sorta, going ok…
I heard through the grapevine, (though it certainly isn’t a very secretive grapevine), that the school I switched Bear over to last month (when he was first diagnosed with T1D) will be losing the ECE that he has come to care so much about.
I switched my son so he could be closer to home, but I never thought we would gain what we gained when he started at his school.
The ECE in his classroom is the epitome of a professional, reliable, caring and loyal person. She is well loved by all the students and parents alike. She is one of those people that exudes support and protectiveness over all children. Yes, she is all these things, and we were lucky enough to have our son placed in her class. In fact, they told us when we first transferred him that she was the reason they were placing him in that class. Even they – the VP and teacher – advocated for this ECE as someone who takes incredible care of her students.
To Bear she is more than just a good caretaker, she is also his comfort and security when he is at school from 9am to 3:15pm. He relies on her and he adores her. And so he should.
In as little as a month she has become his “most favouritest” teacher. But more then that she has become *our* comfort and our security when we send him off to full day kindergarden. In a time when we struggle with almost every moment in our life, knowing he is safe and cared for as much as is possible when he is at school is more than just a blessing – it’s a Godsend.
And remember, I’m an Atheist, so that’s saying a lot.
So, knowing how valuable – no, in-valuable, she is. Knowing that if we take a stand in our community we might save a needed and incredible asset to our school and our children, I wrote a petition.
Yup. I shit you not.
I wonder if I would have fought so hard to keep her, to keep ECE’s in both classrooms if my son wasn’t a special needs kid. I hope the answer is “yes, of course”. I’de like to think that a worthwhile cause is a worthwhile cause and that I am not so trapped in my own little bubble that I would not see it. But the ugly truth is that sometimes parents, even parents like me – parents whose kids do not have specific needs for these services (ECE services) well, they don’t realize how much an ECE is doing for their kids – special needs or not. Before Bear was diagnosed I’m not sure I would have seen the worth in an ECE in the classroom. After all, my son could get along fine without one – right? Now that I have needed the care and help of an ECE, now that I have witnessed her in action, watched the children interact with her – all the children of the classroom – I know that she is an asset to all of us. Every single child in that room benefits greatly from her presence and care. If not only in the way she gives them all specialized and individual attention but in the way she supports the teacher so that the teacher can create an awesome curriculum for her students.
If those parents don’t think the loss if the ECE for each classroom affects them then they might not care enough to click the link to the petition about the loss of having one ECE per JK/SK classroom.
They might be easily convinced by the school board (or school trustee or superintendent or principle or VP of the school…) that lowering the amount of children in one class IS removing the need for an ECE in that class. Which it isn’t.
It just isn’t.
They might believe that adding more students to the other class will not hold a negative outcome because that class WILL have an ECE.
They will be wrong.
And if I thought this way, which I am willing to admit was possible just last January, I would be wrong.
What I hope to accomplish with this petition is to reach those parents and to explain to them that their children, even without special needs, are deserving of a proper education. They are deserving of equal and adequate classroom attention that can only be gained by reasonably sized classrooms and the proper amount of teaching and support staff per classroom.
If a teacher (let’s say the one with less students) has to create a curriculum and be aware of special needs kids as well and their specific needs within those individual special needs (this includes sitting with my son while he eats to insure he eats his entire meal if possible) and to give the other students who are not SN (special needs) but still require adequate attention, attention – you will absolutely have at least one of those areas lacking in proper execution and care. I guarantee it.
So I sat at my computer today and I wrote this (below). I wrote it for my son and for myself. I wrote it for your children and for the future of the community, of this school. I wrote it because standing up for things like this needs to be done so that, as a community, we are taken seriously and not ripped of our deserved and required needs for our children.
Here, for your eyes only…well no, not for your eyes only – come on! It’s a petition!
Hello, my name is Caitlin,
My son has just started at Essex from a school further away from our home. I switched him to Essex Public school because he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in late February 2013. My daughter goes to Essex as well so I am not new to this school and I know and love this community very much. I trust in this community to teach, guide and keep my children safe while they grow and learn.
My son is in JK and he has the added benefit of an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) as a valuable asset to the classroom and the school. Without her I’m not so sure I would feel comfortable sending him to school this early in his diabetes diagnosis. She helps him to remember to eat his designated meals at the right times and reminds him when he needs to check his blood sugar, she supervises him when he checks his blood and logs the information in his blood sugar level log book so we can stay up to date with his levels (a very important part of managing Type 1 Diabetes).
I know my son is in safe hands when he goes to school. It is that extra set of hands that cares for and knows all of our children so well (and who works so hard to make sure they are safe and well taken care of) that allows his classroom teacher the time and energy to set up a fantastic curriculum program in which my son, in JK, is already learning how to read!
That’s pretty awesome if you ask me!
They make a great team, but more then that, as a team they have ensured the best possible learning environment for our kids.
I have recently learned that next year some changes will be implemented concerning the ECE’s in the kindergarden classes at Essex. The changes include taking one of the kindergarden classes and decreasing the number of students in it to 15 students, and therefore increasing the other class’s student numbers to 25/30 students. The idea is to lower the school’s cost by removing the need for an ECE in one of the classrooms.
I find this hard to believe and quite shocking to be honest. In my son’s class alone there is a child with Down Syndrome, a child with Autism and my son who has Type 1 Diabetes. Those are only the children I know of – it would be naive to think that the other JK/SK class has no special needs students, or that my son’s class doesn’t have more children who may also require some additional care.
Here is the problem with calling ECE’s in both JK/SK classes a “surplus” and attempting to cut costs by shifting the balance of classroom sizes and ECE workers per classroom:
Firstly it should be noted that on the Ontario Ministry of Education website it states that the JK/SK classrooms are equipped with ECE’s to help educate and care for our children:
“Who is working in the classroom?
Teacher and Early Childhood Educator team throughout the day
Teachers and early childhood educators (ECEs) are working together to help young students learn during the regular school day. These educators have complementary skills that create a learning environment to support the unique needs of each child. With two qualified professionals in the classroom for the full school day, there is more time for individual and small group instruction.
At schools that offer the integrated before- and after-school program, two ECEs work in the full-day kindergarten classroom. For example, one may run the before-school program and work in the classroom with the teacher during the morning and the second may arrive around lunchtime and work with the teacher in the afternoon and run the after-school program.
At schools that don’t offer the before- and after-school program, a single ECE works alongside the teacher during the regular school day (for example, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).”
> Furthermore it goes on to provide reasons why ECE workers are so important:
Teachers and ECEs work together to implement the program and maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.
Early childhood educators have knowledge of early childhood development, observation and assessment. They bring a focus on age-appropriate program planning that promotes each child’s physical, cognitive, language, emotional, social and creative development and well-being.
Teachers have a knowledge of the broader elementary curriculum, assessment, evaluation and reporting, and child development. They are responsible for student learning, effective instruction and evaluation and formal reporting to parents, based on the teacher-ECE team’s assessments of children’s progress.”
That alone ^ should be enough for Essex to keep our ECE’s. Not only because the Ontario Ministry of Education tells new parents that this is what they and their children deserve and are entitled to, but because the Ontario Ministry of Education tells new parents that is what they are getting when they place their children in a TDSB school.
If that’s not enough, think of it this way:
1. Young children should not be in a class of 25 to 30 students if it can be avoided as it is unrealistic to presume that they will all get the attention they need in these early years where we are putting down the foundation for their education career.
2. A class of 15 students STILL needs an ECE as we are all aware that many students fall under the special needs category and an ECE can help to make sure both the students with special needs and those without are given the right amount of attention.
3. Losing an ECE, even in a small classroom, takes away from all the students – not just those with special needs – and all the students are worth the cost of having an ECE worker in their JK/SF classrooms.
4. An ECE helps the teacher be the best teacher he/she can be. As cheesy as that may sound, it’s true. Removing added pressure from the teacher makes it possible for the teacher to create a better learning environment and programs for our children.
5. And finally, you never know when you will be put into the situation of having a special needs child yourself.
My son was diagnosed *just like that*. We never saw it coming. He now needs his blood sugar level tested at least 3 times a day while in school. My son needs an ECE who is schooled in CPR and who specializes in caring for special needs students. ECE’s can devote time the students in a way that teacher’s cannot. They are also as much of an asset to teachers as they are to parents and children. I want to know that when my child goes to school he will be cared for properly and he will be completely taken care of.
>Signs of low or high blood sugar can be easy to miss, especially in young children who are new to the disease and easily distractible. High or Low blood sugar levels can be very dangerous, an ECE can assure me that there is an extra set of eyes on my son, and particularly a set of eyes that are there specifically to look out for our children in ways the teachers can’t.
Hawthorne Alternative (the school that shares the building with Essex Public school, and that shares the Principle and the VP) has fought hard to keep their ECE staff. They fought and they won. They did it because they refuse to let their children’s education and care while at school be limited in any way. If we don’t do anything our families will suffer for it.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
The TDSB has decided to cut cost in secondary schools (which I am also not in favour of…) but to increase the budget in the elementary schools – why then are we losing ECE teachers?
I urge you to help me keep our ECE staff, for our teachers, but most of all for our children. They are worth it.
The ECE teacher description on the TDSB website reads:
“Many children, families and communities benefit from the work of child care workers. Early Childhood Educators support the students of the Toronto District School Board in our Full Day Kindergarten program:
Assess children’s developmental needs and stages in all developmental domains;
Design curriculum to address children’s identified needs, stages of development and interests;
Plan programs and environments for play and activities that help children make developmental progress;
Maintain healthy emotional and social learning contexts for children; and
Report to parents and supervisors on children’s developmental progress within healthy, safe, nurturing and challenging play environments.
Early childhood educators work in a variety of settings including, but not limited to:
infant, toddler and preschool (including child care and nursery school) programs; before- and after- school programs, kindergartens and primary grade classrooms;
special education and intervention programs;
Ontario Early Years Centres;
Head Start programs, family supports; home child care programs; parent/child/caregiver drop-in programs, pediatric playrooms and health care settings.”
Please, Let’s work together as a community to make sure that our children are not swept under the rug to save costs, unnecessary cuts that are more detrimental then perhaps realized. (As seen by the above link)
Paying for trained ECE’s in the classrooms is where I want my money to go to.
I have created a petition for this cause, you may check it out at:
Please check out the petition link.
Thank you for your time.