Parents had a collective chuckle/melt down when the Ministry of Education in Ontario responded to a question about IEPs with:
“Good morning, can you please clarify what IEP means?”
This was the Ministry’s response to a very important question: do students with IEPs qualify for government Covid support (here’s the full thread below):
(As a professional communicator, I can give this tweet points for politeness and parental engagement, though perhaps not the kind of engagement they where expecting! Maybe it was written by newbie social media staffer who was trying to help but hadn’t been properly trained. That in itself is a problem.)
The tweet did not go unnoticed, much to the chagrin of the Ministry of Education that removed it faster than you can say Identification, Placement, and Review Committee.
Luckily some smart people took screen shots:
Parents and educators took to Twitter to make up their own meanings, like “I expect progress.”
And “Ignored educational promise.”
An autism advocate quickly produced mugs.
And yes, there is a t-shirt too!
Funny, not funny
The tweet is laughable, to a point. It’s also a red flag. A reminder that vulnerable children are poorly served by the school system.
To add insult to injury, these same kids have been left out of pandemic planning:
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that students must continue to accommodated during the pandemic, but that the ministry’s “School Safety Plan does not provide specific guidance on this.” (letter to the Minister of Education, July 2020)
- The government’s school-reopening plan ignores kids with disabilities, say critics (TVO, Sept. 2020)
- ‘Frustrating and irresponsible:’ Families with underlying health conditions and kids returning to school feel left out of Ministry’s, boards’ plans (Ottawa matters, July 2020)
- Ontario back-to-school plan worries some immunocompromised parents (CBC, July 2020)
- What are the Ford Government’s Plans for Ensuring that One Third of a Million Students with Disabilities are Fully and Safely Included During School Re-Opening Next Month? (AODA, August 17, 2020)
- The Pandemic Is a Crisis for Students With Special Needs (The Atlantic, April 2020)
- Pupils with special needs ‘forgotten’ as English schools reopen (The Guardian, Sept. 2020)
We all know this is taking its toll. We are living it, the exhaustion, the anxiety and uncertainty. Bad enough during the before time. Worse now.
Statistics Canada is documenting the impact of the pandemic on families of children with disabilities. In their recent survey, they found that these families are “very or extremely concerned for their children’s amount of screen time, loneliness or isolation, general mental health, school year and academic success” during the pandemic.
Maybe that’s why the Tweet triggered such a huge response. It’s just one more reminder that our kids are too easily left behind. And that hurts.
What is an iep?
If you’re new to the world of special education in Canada, an IEP stands for Individual Education Plan.
According the MOE, “An IEP is a written plan describing the special education program and/or services required by a particular student, based on a thorough assessment of the student’s strengths and needs that affect the student’s ability to learn and demonstrate learning.”
An IEP is a legal document that schools must follow and is required by The Education Act.
For students with dyslexia, learn what goes into an IEP in Ontario (from the International Dyslexia Association Ontario) and about educational plans in other across Canada (about Dyslexic Canada). Here’s a helpful “Hand-holding guide to IEPs” (from Today’s Parent).