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In recognition of
their 15-year battle to assert the rights of learning disabled students, the
Moore family of North Vancouver has been awarded honourary life membership in
the BC Teachers’ Federation.
In an emotional presentation,
BCTF President Susan Lambert praised Rick and Michelle Moore for their tenacity
and commitment to carry on the court fight long after their son Jeffrey could
possibly benefit from the verdict. Last November, the Supreme Court of Canada
ruled unanimously that the North Vancouver School District discriminated
against Jeffrey as a child who had severe dyslexia and was denied the
educational support he needed. The ruling concluded that “adequate special
education...is not a dispensable luxury.”
Over 600 delegates to
the BCTF Annual General Meeting rose in a standing ovation in recognition of
the Moore family’s historic struggle on behalf of all children challenged with
special learning needs.
In accepting the award
Rick Moore said: “This case was never just about Jeff. It was always about all
the children who fall through the cracks in the public education system.” He
thanked BCTF leaders for their “invaluable support” and Federation staff
lawyers who intervened all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“For a long time we
felt we were tilting at windmills with this case. Not many people seemed aware
of the problem,” he said. “So thank you to all the teachers for recognizing the
importance of this case for all students with special needs.”
Moore said that,
although he felt the evidence was there, the court did not find systemic
discrimination. Therefore, parents of children like Jeffrey, whose needs are
unmet, will have to continue to file individual complaints to compel the
province to comply with its human rights obligations.
Moore made his case to
Christy Clark when she was a talk show host. “I recall being interviewed by
someone on CKNW radio, before that person became a little more powerful. And at
one point she interrupted me and said, ‘Isn’t it true that early identification
and early remediation are the most important things you can do for learning
disabled kids?’” Moore agreed with that statement, but expressed frustration
that he has seen no evidence of government support for early intervention
Lambert decried the
recent closure of the Provincial Early Intervention Resource program, an early
remediation and literacy program, due to provincial funding cuts.
The BCTF AGM continues
through to Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. On today’s agenda at 2:00 p.m.
is a keynote speech by Aboriginal activist and comedien Candy Palmater, host of
a national TV show broadcast on APTN.
Later in the afternoon
delegates will discuss resolutions supporting the Aboriginal Truth and
Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations about acknowledging the history and
legacy of Indian Residential Schools.
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For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).