Literacy program cut at Cardigan Consolidated

Ryan Ross
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English Language School Board drops Reading Recovery as part of reallocation that will see 2.5 fewer teachers at the school next year

Education Minister Alan McIsaac

A program meant to help children improve their literacy skills won’t be offered in Cardigan next year after the English Language School Board recently announced it was cutting it.

Cardigan Consolidated School sent a letter to parents Tuesday notifying them of the staffing allocation for the upcoming school year, which will see 2.5 fewer teachers and the Reading Recovery program dropped for 2014-2015.

Opposition Leader Steven Myers raised the issue during Tuesday’s question period and, in speaking to the media, he blamed Education Minister Alan McIsaac for the cut.

“It’s shameful that he would pull the plug on that, but he doesn’t seem the least bit ashamed by that,” Myers said.

Reading Recovery is an early intervention program meant to help children with literacy issues and is done outside of the regular classroom.

There are about 100 students who attend Cardigan Consolidated School from kindergarten to Grade 6.

The most recent class size figures the Education Department provided The Guardian were from September and they showed classes ranged in size from 10 to 23 students.

Those 23 students were in the Grade 6 class, although all of the class sizes may have changed throughout the year and could be different next year.

Along with the cuts to Reading Recovery and the teaching positions, the letter said Cardigan Consolidated School will no longer be able to offer single grades, which means there will be some combined classes.

The school’s website lists nine teaching staff, five specialists and five educational assistants.

In speaking to the media, McIsaac said he hadn’t been informed Reading Recovery was being cut anywhere,

but it was the English Language School Board’s decision.

“Reading Recovery is still a very, very important program in our system as is our assessments, as is our literacy coaches and the works.”

When asked if eliminating Reading Recovery in Cardigan concerned him, McIsaac said it doesn’t if the program isn’t needed there.

“Reading Recovery’s definitely not a program that’s being cut and the school board’s looking at the allotment of teachers at the present time.”

Those answers didn’t seem to satisfy Myers, who said it is McIsaac’s responsibility as education minister to deal with those issues and not the school board’s.

“That’s a joke.”

Myers said literacy is the most important thing students can learn in the primary grades because it’s necessary for learning other subjects.

“Reading is very important.”

With the latest cuts to a small, rural school, Myers said it was a case of the provincial government attacking rural P.E.I.

“It’s a death by a thousand cuts.”

When The Guardian contacted P.E.I. Home and School Federation president Peter Rukavina, he hadn’t heard about the cuts in Cardigan, but said he knew how beneficial the Reading Recovery program could be because his son went through it.

“I’m disappointed.”

Rukavina said he didn’t know much about the changes in Cardigan so he didn’t want to prejudge the situation, but he also said access to important programs like Reading Recovery should be the same across the province.

“You would like to hope they’re available at all schools.”

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Cardigan Consolidated School, English Language School Board, Education Department P.E.I. Home and School

Geographic location: Cardigan

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Recent comments

  • Concerned Parent
    May 14, 2014 - 18:39

    Reading Recovery has also been cut from Tignish Elementary and OLeary Elementary...and who knows where else.......our poor children will not succeed in this school system.

  • asdf
    May 14, 2014 - 12:23

    Maybe Minister MacIsaac should start worrying about the people on the front lines of education, the students and their families and the staff in each school. Don't blame the boards for allocating staff, your department put them in this position by cutting jobs. Only 14 of all the schools in the province have maintained or increased in staffing allocation and it doesn't matter if it's rural or urban schools, they are all feeling the pain. Colonel Gray was cut by 3 positions, Kensington by at least 2, Queen Charlotte was cut, Stonepark was cut, Three Oaks was cut, Westisle was cut, and the list goes on. Wait until the information about how many Educational Assistants are being cut. Anther blow to the front line with students and staff. Minister MacIsaac needs to check his facts, the only agreement for cuts with the Teachers' Union was to do it over a 2 or 3 year period. MacIsaac was dead set on cutting them all at once. The union never agreed to cutting jobs. We can all make statistics work for our needs. The facts are that the needs of the students coming in to schools are much higher than ever before. MacIsaac is the worst Education Minister and I'll even go as far as saying the worst Minister in government in quite some time.

    • Count Ability
      May 14, 2014 - 14:28

      Maybe it's true that, "We can all make statistics work for our needs." However, it's even easier to ignore statistics to justify our wants. The fact is, declining enrolment matters. Can anybody really make a case that when a school looses a significant number students it should maintain the same number of teachers? Perhaps we should ask: Is adjusting the number of teaching positions a willful misinterpretation of statistics, or is it reasonable application of basic mathematics? I think the Minister can be blamed for many things, but I doubt he can be blamed for declining enrolment.

  • J
    May 14, 2014 - 12:11

    It's funny how this government can keep cutting teachers and programs and still insist that our educational ratings will improve. It's obvious why provinces that invest heavily in education have students who perform better and why our students are at the bottom. We all know of families who have moved to areas such as Alberta, whose children were top students here and are not able to keep up with programs there without tutoring. Some have said that students are so far ahead there that Island students who moved to Alberta had no idea what the teachers were talking about. More investment in education will pay off in the future or perhaps the plan is that students who drop out or need to upgrade will do it later on in life while sponsored by the federal government (EI).

  • Christa MacDonald
    May 14, 2014 - 08:08

    Here we go again... Rural PEI gets shafted AGAIN!!!

    • LBC
      May 14, 2014 - 11:51

      You said it Morell has nothing now and to take two full time teachers from them is insane , "YES I DID SAY INSANE ". The town schools do far better off than we do .

  • Think, then speak?
    May 14, 2014 - 08:00

    If Islanders relied on their respective municipalities to fund these programs, like most jurisdictions in North America, we'd see even fewer of these services than we have now. I'm no supporter of the Ghiz government, but Myers hasn't got a clue about public schooling. It would also appear that, if they exist, neither do his advisors.

    • UPWESTER
      May 14, 2014 - 12:38

      Regardless of whether or not Meyers or his advisers know of what they speak, or where funding comes for education, all municipalities recieve their funding from the same source and should therefore be able to offer the same ciriculum, or else close these schools and consolidate students. Don't start picking and choosing which schools get which programs. With PEI rated as worst in Canada, the whole system needs to be looked at.

    • Justin Case
      May 14, 2014 - 14:04

      Most municipalities get their funding from the same source, that source being the people that live within the municipality. With respect to funding public schooling in this province, municipalities don't supplement that funding. In other places, like Nova Scotia, if people want programs like Reading Recovery, they also agree to pay extra taxes or vote to redistribute funding from other programs (road maintance, policing, recreation, etc.). It would be interesting to see how Islanders would use the tax dollars if we had more say in how they were used. With all due respect to the good people of Cardigan, for example, would they choose wharf repair or Reading Recovery? Doesn't our system make it easier to critize than to take responsibility?

  • Amanda
    May 14, 2014 - 07:37

    Perhaps less roundabouts and "Plan B" ideas and more money for literacy might be a good idea??? Since this is what is REALLY important to the future of our province AND country.

  • Frank Rankin
    May 14, 2014 - 07:06

    This story is barely skimming the surface as far as teacher cuts go. Rural schools throughout the western part of PEI received their teaching allocations this week and the numbers are not good. (But perhaps the good minister is unaware of those cuts as well.)

    • read the article
      May 14, 2014 - 09:01

      Ratio of teachers, specialists and assistants to students seems very high. Maybe they are incorporating it into class time.

    • @ read the article
      May 14, 2014 - 10:26

      reading recovery is specialized instruction for kids having difficulty learning to read. It is not able to be incorporated into regular class time. The purpose is to help the kids that are struggling in a normal class setting, for one example, lets take kids with dyslexia. They are above average intelligence but don't "See" letters the same way, and need specialized methods to learn to read. It's about getting these kids access to proper specialized instruction. That's what they are cutting. It's a huge disservice to the school, and even greater disservice to the children. I think you'd be surprised just how many kids needed the recovery program.