Guest post from Tracy Humphreys, Parent and Chair of BCEdAccess.
Why do Parents want Standards of Practice for EA’s?
EAs are the lifeline for so many students with disabilities. As parents and guardians we rely on them to know that our children are safe and secure when we leave them at school.
EAs perform a wide range of duties and those can vary from School district to school district depending on their job description, and also from child to child as everyone’s needs are unique.
In addition, EAs take the work off the hands of the teacher for students who need a little to a lot of extra support, so the teacher can teach to the whole class, including the students the EA is supporting.
So why is it that these important people do not have any standards of practice?
EA programs around BC vary from 2 weeks to 2 years! I ask you, are the EAs in both programs learning the same things? It’s impossible.
Can they work anywhere in the province? No. Some districts limit the credentials they accept while others do not. Several districts now run their own short programs to get ‘warm bodies’ in place because of the severe EA shortage.
Don’t you think that if EAs had professional standards of practice, and one job for 35+ hours a week instead of 2 or 3 part time jobs they pull together to pay the bills, we might find that those positions are easier to fill and retain?
If you were offered a choice between 2 weeks and 2 years to get the same job, same pay, same hours, what would you do? We all want to get to work as soon as we can and get our career started!
As a parent, honestly I worry about my childrens’ safety. It’s possible the person who took that 2 week program had other skills or experience coming into it and they’ll be okay. They can hit the ground running. But it’s also possible that they are not going to have the depth of knowledge required to support my kid who has certain triggers and needs skilled support to navigate the day or they will be unable to learn – and may make it difficult for others around them to learn, too!
Teachers rely on EAs to have specialized knowledge and training in order to reach and educate each child. I would also think that other EAs who have a great deal more education and experience may find it frustrating to see the inequities here.
Tracy Humphreys, Parent and Chair of BCEdAccess