The environment in today’s classrooms

Serge Bellemare, Green Party candidate
for Marguerite-Bourgeoys

Dear voters,

I am writing today as a member of the Green Party of Quebec in the hope that you will help us send a clear message to our decision-makers : that the environment should be our number 1 priority at present.

The platform of the Green Party, as outlined on our website, covers all major areas under provincial jurisdiction. Today I wish to focus on education, a subject close to my heart as I was a high school teacher in the Marguerite-Bourgeoys riding in LaSalle for thirty-five years.

For the Green Party, environment is a key issue covering a broad spectrum of activities, but for now we will limit our discussion to the environment in today’s classrooms. Measures adopted by the Ministry of Education in recent years under the banner of “integration” has resulted in classrooms that too often are almost impossible to manage effectively.

Under the new rules, we now find students with totally opposite needs grouped together in the same classroom. Year after year, normal children in regular programs find themselves alongside a growing number of children with varying degrees of learning and/or behaviour disabilities.

The Ministry itself is well aware that this policy affects the classroom environment negatively and does not subject the best students to integration – these students are quite often pulled out of regular classrooms and offered enriched programs (e.g. : immersion and international programs).

A recent SOM-FAE survey (http://sierra.mmic.net/fae.htm) reveals that 62% of parents of public school students disagree with measures that force students with learning and/or behaviour difficulties to be integrated into regular classrooms. Even the parents of such children are of the same opinion (64% of those polled). Moreover, no less than 89% of parents favour the creation of special needs classes with a lower student-teacher ratio for students who face severe learning or behaviour problems.

The Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québecois have promised to hire specialists to support these students in the classrooms, but if such a program does not ultimately lead to a more homogeneous classroom environment, it is simply a waste of money.

Rest assured that developing quality education will remain a key issue for me well beyond the coming elections.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further discussion.

And please, cast your vote on March 26!

Serge Bellemare