Transcript: 'A Disaster': Online Learning for Students With Disabilities | Dec 08, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a dark blue suit, pale blue shirt, and striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Online learning for students with disabilities. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says PARENTS ACROSS THE PROVINCE FACED TOUGH CHOICES THIS FALL, AS COVID-19 MEANT COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CLASSROOM OPTIONS FOR THEIR KIDS, INCLUDING MASSIVE NEW EFFORTS TO ALLOW FOR ONLINE LEARNING. FOR STUDENTS WITH A RANGE OF DISABILITIES, THAT OFTEN MEANT A MUCH STEEPER LEARNING CURVE, AND SOMETIMES VERY LITTLE LEARNING. WITH US NOW FOR MORE: NEAR THE NORTH SHORE OF LAKE ERIE, IN SIMCOE, ONTARIO: PAULA BOUTIS, SHE IS A MEMBER OF THE SPECIAL EDUCATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE AT GRAND ERIE DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD AND PRESIDENT OF THE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, INTEGRATION ACTION FOR INCLUSION. SHE IS ALSO MOTHER OF TWO ELEMENTARY STUDENTS, INCLUDING ONE WITH A DISABILITY...

Paula is in her forties, with shoulder-length curly brown hair. She's wearing a black jacket and a black blouse.

Steve continues IN MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO: LAURA KIRBY-McINTOSH, PRESIDENT OF THE ONTARIO AUTISM COALITION, A TEACHER FOR 28 YEARS WHO'S CURRENTLY PROVIDING INSTRUCTION ONLINE. SHE IS ALSO A MOTHER OF TWO TEENS WHO ARE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM...

Laura is in her fifties, with chin-length wavy gray hair. She's wearing glasses and a red Christmas-themed sweater.

Steve continues AND FROM MIDTOWN IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: DAVID LEPOFSKY, CHAIR OF THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE...

David is in his fifties, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt and checkered tie.

Steve continues WE ARE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME YOU THREE ONTO TVO TONIGHT. I GUESS I SHOULD SAY BY WAY OF BACKGROUND, WE ARE DOING THIS PROGRAM IN PART BECAUSE ONCE UPON A TIME A FEW WEEKS AGO, WE DID A PROGRAM ON HOW WELL THE SCHOOL SYSTEMS ACROSS THE PROVINCE WERE DOING WITH MOSTLY ONLINE LEARNING AND SOME IN-CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION. AND THE LOVELY AND TALENTED MR. LEPOFSKY SENT ME AN EMAIL THAT NIGHT SAYING, OH, MY GOODNESS, YOU GOT IT WRONG. WE OFTEN LISTEN TO WHAT HE HAS TO SAY. ONE OF THE THINGS HE OBJECTED TO THE MOST WERE THE COMMENTS OF RON FELSEN WHO IS A SUPERINTENDENT WITH THE NEW SCHOOL FOR TDSB STUDENTS WHO OPT INTO ONLINE LEARNING FULLY, 100 PERCENT. LET'S PLAY A CLIP FROM RON FELSEN AND WE SHALL COME BACK AND HAVE A DISCUSSION OF OUR OWN. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "November 12, 2020. Ron Felsen."
In the clip, Ron speaks on screen. He's in his early forties, with short gray hair and a stubble.

He says WE HAVE A PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES AND WE HAVE THE RESOURCES, YOU KNOW, WE'RE WORKING WITH TEACHERS TO... THE WORD PIVOT WAS USED EARLIER BECAUSE THE ACCOMMODATIONS PROVIDED IN A BRICKS AND MORTAR SCHOOL ARE DIFFERENT IN A VIRTUAL SETTING. AND SO DEVELOPING THOSE INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLANS FOR STUDENTS HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE, BUT OVERALL I THINK OUR STUDENTS ARE BENEFITING FROM THE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT AND LEARNING JUST AS THEY WOULD BE IN A BRICKS AND MORTAR ENVIRONMENT.

The clip ends.

Steve says OKAY, DAVID. I'M GOING TO ASK YOU TO PICK UP ON THE e-mail YOU SENT WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD THAT CLIP, AND TO THAT END, YOUR CONCERN WAS THAT WE LEFT TOO ROSY AN IMPRESSION OF HOW THINGS ARE OUT THERE. SO TELL US: HOW THINGS ARE THEY FROM YOUR VANTAGE OUT THERE?

The caption changes to "David Lepofsky. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance."
Then, it changes again to "One-size-fits-all?"

David says THEY NUMBER ONE OUT OF EVERY SIX STUDENTS, THAT'S A THIRD OF STUDENTS IN ONTARIO ARE WILDLY VARYING FROM SCHOOL TO SCHOOL, BOARD TO BOARD, FAMILY TO FAMILY, FROM THOSE WHO ARE FUNCTIONING OKAY, TO THOSE FOR WHOM ONLINE LEARNING HAS BEEN A DISASTER, AND THERE'S BEEN A STUNNING LACK OF PROVINCIAL LEADERSHIP TO ENSURE THAT THINGS WORK WELL. NOW, NOT BLAMING SCHOOL BOARDS. THEY ARE TRYING TO DO WHAT THEY CAN IN THE MIDDLE OF A CRISIS PANDEMIC, SCRAMBLING IN THE FACE OF THE PROVINCE BEING A MOVING TARGET ON WHAT THEY EXPECT OF THE PROVINCIAL SCHOOL BOARDS. THEY'RE ALL LEFT TO REINVENT THE WHEEL, THESE 72 SCHOOL BOARDS, TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO. AND THE RESULTS HAVE BEEN VERY TROUBLING FROM FEEDBACK WE'VE RECEIVED. NOT FROM ALL FAMILIES, BUT FROM A TROUBLING NUMBER OF FAMILIES.

Steve says WELL, LET ME JUMP IN WITH A FOLLOW-UP HERE, DAVID. WHEN YOU SAY IT'S BEEN A DISASTER, WHAT CONSTITUTES A DISASTER?

David says WELL, RANGING FROM KIDS WHO ARE FUNCTIONING WELL TO KIDS WHO ARE REALLY LEARNING LITTLE OR NOTHING OR KIDS WHOSE PARENTS BASICALLY HAVE TO BECOME THEIR TEACHERS. SO, IN EFFECT, WE'RE PAYING TAXES FOR SCHOOL BUT THEY'RE ESSENTIALLY, THE FAMILY'S HOME-SCHOOLING. AND THE REASON IS, THE UNDERLYING REASON IS THAT THE PROVINCE TOOK FROM DAY ONE A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL TO DISTANCE LEARNING. HERE'S HOW IT'S GOING TO WORK. AND IT'S DESIGNED FOR STUDENTS WITHOUT DISABILITIES. AND WHEN IT CAME TO STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, RATHER THAN PUTTING IN PLACE THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN THAT WE'VE BEEN ASKING THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT FOR NOW SEVEN OR EIGHT MONTHS OR LONGER, THEY JUST SAID TO EACH SCHOOL BOARD, WELL, DO IT THIS WAY, USE THIS ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL MODEL FOR DISTANCE LEARNING AND BY THE WAY DON'T FORGET TO ACCOMMODATE STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. WELL, YOU NEED A PLAN. YOU DON'T WANT TO LEAVE IT TO EACH OF THOSE 72 BOARDS TO HAVE TO REINVENT THE WHEEL, ESPECIALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF A CRISIS.

Steve says OKAY. LET'S GET LAURA KIRBY-McINTOSH IN HERE. WHAT'S YOUR IMPRESSION OF HOW THINGS ARE GOING, LAURA?

The caption changes to "Laura Kirby-McIntosh. Ontario Autism Coalition."

Laura says WELL, SPEAKING AS AN ONLINE TEACHER, I CAN TELL YOU I'M OVERWHELMED AND EXHAUSTED. EVEN AS SOMEBODY WHO HAS BEEN IN THE CLASSROOM FOR AS LONG AS I HAVE, I CAN TELL YOU I'VE NEVER WORKED HARDER IN MY LIFE. THIS IS HARDER THAN MY FIRST YEAR AS A TEACHER. BOTH MY DAUGHTER AND I GO TO THE SAME SCHOOL, ME AS A TEACHER, HER AS A STUDENT, AND WE'RE BOTH AT HOME BECAUSE MY HUSBAND IS ON DIALYSIS. BUT EVERYTHING FEELS LIKE IT TAKES LONGER. EVERYTHING FEELS LIKE IT'S MORE COMPLICATED. AND THEN, YOU KNOW, THE CONSTANT CHANGE THAT KEEPS HAPPENING AS THE MINISTRY, YOU KNOW, PIVOTS FROM ONE MODEL TO ANOTHER AND THEN BOARDS SCRAMBLE TO IMPLEMENT AND WE HAVE REORGANIZATION ONCE A WHOLE BUNCH OF PARENTS REALIZED THE CLASS SIZES WEREN'T REALLY AS SMALL AS THEY HAD BEEN LED TO EXPECT SO THEY SWITCHED TO ONLINE LEARNING. IT'S BEEN JUST CHAOTIC AND EXHAUSTING.

Steve says PAULA, WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE SO FAR?

The caption changes to "Paula Boutis. GEDSB Special Education Advisory Committee."

Paula says SO, BOTH AS A PARENT, I CAN COMMENT THAT FOR US, WE, YOU KNOW, MADE A VERY DELIBERATE DECISION TO BE AT HOME FOR STABILITY, PRECISELY BECAUSE WE DIDN'T WANT TO BE MOVING BETWEEN IN-CLASS, QUARANTINES, AND BACK AND FORTH. HAVING SAID THAT DECISION, WE ALSO KNEW WE WOULD HAVE TO FILL A LOT OF GAPS AND BE THE SUPPORT AT HOME FOR BOTH OUR KIDS, ACTUALLY. ONE IS QUITE YOUNG. SO THAT WAS A CHOICE WE MADE, RECOGNIZING THAT WE WERE BUYING STABILITY FOR THAT CHOICE. FOR US IT'S WORKED OUT OKAY IN THAT WE'VE HAD A VERY GOOD SCHOOL TEAM WORKING WITH US WHO HAS PROGRESSIVELY OVER TIME OFFERED US MORE SUPPORT AT HOME. BUT WHAT I CAN SAY, AS THE PRESIDENT PARTICULARLY OF INTEGRATION ACTION FOR INCLUSION IS THAT THE EXPERIENCE IS ALL OVER THE PLACE FOR FAMILIES. IT IS ALL OVER IN TERMS OF THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. SO SOME PEOPLE ARE GETTING NO SUPPORT, NO ACCOMMODATION. SOME PEOPLE ARE GETTING SOME SUPPORT. MOST PEOPLE ARE GETTING MUCH LESS SUPPORT AND ACCOMMODATION THAN THEY WERE ACCUSTOMED TO WITHIN THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT. THERE ARE SOME POSITIVES LIKE LESS STRESS IN THE HOME ENVIRONMENT, POTENTIALLY LESS BULLYING, ALTHOUGH I IMAGINE THAT WOULD BE TRUE ACROSS ANY NUMBER OF STUDENTS. SO IT'S ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Steve says OKAY. LET'S DRILL DOWN A LITTLE DEEPER HERE. TO THAT END, LAURA, I WANT TO GET YOU BACK IN HERE. AND WITHOUT INVADING YOUR FAMILY'S PRIVACY TOO MUCH BUT HOPING YOU CAN GO A CERTAIN DISTANCE TO HELPING US UNDERSTAND WHERE THE RUBBER REALLY HITS THE ROAD HERE, LET'S JUST TALK ABOUT... YOUR DAUGHTER IS WHAT? 18 YEARS OLD?

Laura says YES.

Steve says SHE IS IN GRADE 12?

The caption changes to "Laura Kirby-McIntosh, @OntAutism."

Laura says GRADE 12 PLUS. SHE GOT OFF TO A STRONG SUPPORT IN SEPTEMBER, BUT QUICKLY FOUND, BECAUSE SHE'S AUTISTIC, SHE NEEDS MORE PROCESSING TIME AND MORE TIME TO DO HER ASSIGNMENTS. AND THE CONDENSED NATURE OF THE QUADMESTER MODEL AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL WAS TOO MUCH, SO THERE WERE LOTS OF TEARS OF FRUSTRATION. ONCE WE GOT HER DROPPED DOWN TO ONLY ONE COURSE AT A TIME, THINGS STARTED TO GET BETTER FOR HER. BUT SHE IS NOT GETTING THE SAME LEVEL OF SUPPORT THAT SHE WOULD INSIDE THE SCHOOL BUILDING.

Steve says LET'S UNDERSTAND AS WELL, DOES SHE DO A MIX OF GOING INTO SCHOOL SOME DAYS AND SOME ONLINE?

Laura says NO, NO. SHE IS EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE.

Steve says AND HAS THE SCHOOL ACCOMMODATED FOR THE FACT THAT SHE MAY BE LEARNING DIFFERENTLY THAN OTHER STUDENTS?

The caption changes to "Barriers to access."

Laura says I WOULD SAY ONLY INSOFAR AS THEY'LL ALLOWED HER TO DROP DOWN AND TAKE ONE CLASS AT A TIME INSTEAD OF TWO. OTHER THAN THAT... I MEAN, SHE IS NOT A STUDENT THAT REQUIRES A GREAT DEAL OF ACCOMMODATION, BUT, YOU KNOW, THE MODEL IS SO CONDENSED NOW THAT IF SHE NEEDS AN EXTENSION, IF SHE NEEDS EXTRA TIME FOR AN ASSIGNMENT, IT'S DIFFICULT FOR TEACHERS TO GIVE THAT. SO THAT'S THE MAIN CHALLENGE SHE HAS FACED. BUT WHAT I'M HEARING FROM OTHER PARENTS IN THE AUTISM COALITION COMMUNITY IS QUITE DIFFERENT. SO HER EXPERIENCE HASN'T BEEN TOO BAD, BUT THERE ARE SOME FAMILIES FOR WHOM IT'S BEEN DOWNRIGHT AWFUL.

Steve says WELL, I WONDER IF PART OF THE REASON WHY HER EXPERIENCE HASN'T BEEN TOO BAD IS THAT SHE HAS GOT A MOTHER WHO HAS BEEN TEACHING FOR ALMOST THREE DECADES THAT CAN HELP?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Laura says CERTAINLY IT DOESN'T HURT. HEY, BEING A KID'S TEACHER CAN BE GOOD IN SOME WAYS AND NOT SO GOOD IN OTHER WAYS. YEAH, HE CAN HELP HER NAVIGATE THE SYSTEM AND HEAVY HER NAVIGATE HER DEADLINES AND SO ON. STILL, IT'S BEEN CHALLENGING. EVEN THOUGH SHE IS 18 AND IN GRADE 12, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S DIFFICULT IS THAT THAT PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP, AND WHEN YOU ADD TEACHER INTO THE EQUATION, IT COMPLICATES THINGS. AND I THINK FOR A LOT OF PARENTS THERE'S A LINE THAT THEY'VE NEVER HAD TO CROSS BEFORE IN TERMS OF BECOMING THEIR CHILD'S TEACHER, IN EFFECT. AND CROSSING THAT LINE IS NOT ALWAYS COMFORTABLE.

Steve says NOW, DAVID, I GUESS ONE OF THE AREAS I WANT TO DRILL DOWN WITH YOU IS THE NOTION THAT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT STUDENTS WHO HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS OR HAVE DISTINCTIVE WAYS OF LEARNING AND SO ON, THIS IS A PRETTY BROAD PANOPLY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE. YOU ARE VISUALLY IMPAIRED. THERE MAY BE OTHER STUDENTS THAT ARE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED. THERE MAY BE OTHER STUDENTS ON AN AUTISM SPECTRUM. THERE ARE A WIDE VARIETY OF DISABILITIES AT PLAY HERE. HAS THE PROVINCE COME UP WITH A ONE SOLUTION OUGHT TO WORK WELL FOR EVERYBODY, AND IF SO, HOW WELL IS THAT WORKING?

The caption changes to "David Lepofsky, @DavidLepofsky."

David says WELL, WHAT WE'VE LEARNED OVER AND OVER IS, IF YOU'RE GOING TO RUN AN EDUCATION SYSTEM, OR ANY OTHER SYSTEM, THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, AND YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE MAJOR CHANGES LIKE THEY'VE HAD TO MAKE BECAUSE OF COVID. WE UNDERSTAND WHY THEY HAD TO MOVE TO DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE SPRING, OF COURSE, AND MAINTAIN IT IN THE FALL. YOU CAN'T ASSUME THAT IT'S AUTOMATICALLY GOING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. THEY ALL HAVE INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. AND THEREFORE, YOU NEED A PLAN TO ADDRESS THEIR RECURRING NEEDS BECAUSE A BLIND KID IN KENORA IS THE SAME AS A BLIND KID IN CORNWALL. A DEAF KID IN LONDON IS GOING TO BE THE SAME AS A DEAF KID IN OTTAWA. YOU WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT STRATEGIES WORK FOR THEM AND MANDATE THE RANGE OF OPTIONS AROUND THE PROVINCE. THERE'S A LOT OF TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS AND PARENTS COMING UP WITH CREATIVE IDEAS, BUT UNLESS THE PROVINCE GATHERS THEM UP, SHARES THEM AROUND, AND MANDATES MEASURES TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE DON'T FACE BARRIERS, THEN THEY'RE ALL GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP RE-CREATING THE SAME THING, AND IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS EXHAUSTING WORLD THAT LAURA SAID DISTANCE TEACHERS ARE FACING. THAT'S A FORMULA FOR DISASTER, AND THAT'S EXACTLY HOW THE PROVINCE IS HANDLING IT. THEY'RE JUST LEAVING IT TO EACH SCHOOL BOARD. SO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO AND WHAT THE PROVINCE WAS TOLD THEY NEED TO DO IS TO DO TWO THINGS... ACTUALLY, THREE THINGS. FIRST, THEY NEED TO CREATE A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR ALL THE SCHOOL BOARDS SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO, AS I SAID, REINVENT THE WHEEL. THEY HAVEN'T DONE THAT. SECOND, THEY NEED TO PUT INTO EFFECT AT THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION A STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES COMMAND TABLE. THEY'VE GOT A HEALTH TABLE, THEY'VE GOT OTHER TABLES. THEY NEED A COMMAND TABLE FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD OF A MILLION, AS I SAID, ONE OUT OF EVERY SIX KIDS. WE KNOW THERE'S A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM. AND IT SHOULD BE STAFFED BY PEOPLE WITH EXPERTISE IN EDUCATING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. AND THEY SHOULD BE DESIGNING THE PLAN, RUNNING THE PLAN, AND A QUICK RESPONSE TO FIX WHEN PROBLEMS INEVITABLY ARE GOING TO ARISE. THEY HAVEN'T DONE THAT. THE THIRD THING THEY NEED TO DO, AND THIS IS ABSOLUTELY PIVOTAL, IS THE PROVINCE NEEDS TO ENSURE THAT SCHOOL BOARDS ARE REACHING OUT, OR THE PROVINCE ITSELF, TO PARENTS TO FIND OUT WHAT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING. NOT JUST WHAT ARE SCHOOL BOARDS SAYING THEY'RE DOING. WHAT ARE PARENTS ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING AND WHAT ARE KIDS WITH DISABILITIES EXPERIENCING? BECAUSE IF THEY ARE HAVING THE KIND OF PROBLEMS THAT WE'VE BEEN GETTING IN TERMS OF FEEDBACK WE'VE RECEIVED, THEY NEED TO KNOW THAT NOW AND TO FIX IT. WELL, THE PROVINCE HASN'T DONE THAT EITHER. I WAS ON... JUST ONE LAST POINT, STEVE. I'M ON THE SPECIAL EDUCATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD, THE LARGEST SCHOOL BOARD IN CANADA, AND LAST NIGHT WE HAD A MEETING AND TWO MONTHS AGO I THINK OR THREE MONTHS AGO I SUGGESTED THEY NEED TO REACH OUT TO PARENTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES THAT THEY SERVE TO FIND OUT HOW ARE THINGS WORKING. NOT ONLY HAVEN'T THEY DONE THAT, THEY'RE STILL JUST THINKING ABOUT HOW TO DO THAT. NOW, FRANKLY, THAT'S SOMETHING THE PROVINCE SHOULD HAVE MANDATED LONG AGO RATHER THAN BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCHOOL YEAR AND HAVING A DISCUSSION ABOUT, SHUCKS, HOW MIGHT WE DO THIS?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says WELL, TO THAT END, I THINK, PAULA, YOU'RE IN THE MIDST OF A SURVEY OF PARENTS YOU KNOW RIGHT NOW, RIGHT? TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT NOT ONLY THE SIZE OF THE SURVEY BUT WHAT YOU'RE HEARING.

The caption changes to "Paula Boutis. Integration Action for Inclusion. @pboutis."

Paula says SO WE'RE DOING OUR BEST TO REACH OUT TO FAMILIES BUT WE ARE NOT A SCHOOL BOARD, WE ARE NOT THE MINISTRY, SO [indiscernible] TRICKLING IN SLOWLY BUT SURELY, ANSWERS ARE COMING, AND IT IS... I CAN'T ECHO ENOUGH DAVID'S COMMENTS AROUND THE NEED FOR THE BOARD TO BE REACHING OUT AND FOR THE PROVINCE TO HAVE MANDATED THIS TO HAVE ALLOWED FOR A PLATFORM. LISTEN, IT'S DIFFICULT IN THE BEST OF TIMES FOR FAMILIES WITH DISABILITIES TO CONVEY EXPERIENCES. I WOULD SAY THERE ARE NOT VERY MANY GOOD WAYS THAT BOARDS DO THAT ANYWAY. BUT EVEN NOW IT IS EVEN WORSE, AND FOLKS JUST DON'T HAVE THE FEEDBACK THAT THEY NEED. SO THE COMMENTS WE'VE BEEN HEARING, SOME OF WHICH ARE EXHAUSTING FOR THE STUDENTS, PARENTS ARE HAVING TO DO CURRICULAR DEVELOPMENT IN SOME CASES, I'M SURE IT HAPPENS QUITE A BIT, FROM DISTANCE LEARNING, THERE'S NO ADAPTATION OF MATERIALS. FOR SOME FAMILIES, PLEASE UNDERSTAND, THIS WAS NOT AN OPTION. THEIR KIDS ARE VERY MEDICALLY FRAGILE. AND SO THEY ARE HOME. AND WHATEVER HAPPENS HAPPENS EDUCATIONALLY. MAYBE THOSE PARENTS CAN FILL THE GAPS. MAYBE THEY CAN'T. THERE'S DEFINITELY SIGNIFICANT CONCERNS AROUND SUPPORT. AND A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVE INDICATED THEY JUST DON'T HAVE THE...

Steve says SORRY. WE DID ASK THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION FOR A COMMENT ABOUT THIS, AND WE DID HEAR BACK FROM HIS SPOKESPERSON WHOSE NAME IS CAITLIN CLARK, AND SHE HAD THIS TO SAY...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Response from the Ministry." The quote reads "We are proud to lead the nation in COVID-19 school reopening funding. 42 million dollars of this additional funding was specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs and mental health supports in the classroom. We are spending more money than any other province on special education. In order to further support these students, we have directed boards to ensure that students with special needs can be at school 5 days a week."
Quoted from Caitlin Clark, spokesperson for the Minister of Education. December 7, 2020.

Steve says OKAY. LET'S GET SOME FEEDBACK ON THAT. LAURA, HOW DOES THAT SOUND TO YOU?

Laura says IT SOUNDS LIKE A COMMENT COMING FROM A LIBERAL OR A NEW DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN TERMS OF BRAGGING ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY THEY'VE SPENT, AND SO THAT IS THE MEASURE OF HOW MUCH THEY CARE. I CAN TELL YOU AS A FRONT LINE TEACHER, THE DIFFICULTY, OF COURSE, IS THAT ON THE GROUND, WE DON'T REALLY SEE THOSE INVESTMENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN OUR CLASSROOM ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS. I'M HEARING FROM PARENTS OF KIDS WITH HIGH NEEDS ON THE SPECTRUM WHO ARE GETTING A TOTAL OF 25 MINUTES PER WEEK OF SUPPORT FROM AN EDUCATION ASSISTANT. THE REST OF THE TIME THEY HAVE TO BE THERE BESIDE THEIR KID AT THE COMPUTER GIVING THEM ONE-ON-ONE SUPPORT. I'VE HEARD OF A SINGLE MOM WHO IS WORKING FROM HOME WHO HAS TWO KIDS ON THE SPECTRUM, BOTH OF WHOM NEED ONE-ON-ONE SUPPORT, AND SAYING, I'M ONE PERSON. LIKE, HOW CAN I DO THIS? IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY, IT'S ABOUT REDUCING THE LEVEL OF CHAOS AND UNCERTAINTY IN THE SYSTEM, AND ALLOWING FOR SOME SORT OF CONSISTENCY AND... I MEAN, FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM, ROUTINE IS REALLY IMPORTANT. BUT WE'VE SEEN, YOU KNOW, PIVOTING FROM ONE MODEL TO THE OTHER, WE'VE SEEN TIMETABLES BEING OVERHAULED, AND WE'VE SEEN MUCH MORE SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION DURING THIS PANDEMIC THAN ANYBODY REALLY WANTED TO.

Steve says LAURA, CAN I FOLLOW UP WITH YOU WITH THIS NOTION: MANY STUDENTS IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO WHO HAVE DISABILITIES HAVE HAVING CALLED AN IEP, AN INDIVIDUAL OR INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN, AND THESE PLANS, WELL, OBVIOUSLY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN PLACE AND ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HELPFUL TO EACH INDIVIDUAL CHILD'S ABILITY TO PUT A PROGRAM TOGETHER AND LEARN SPECIFIC TO THEIR NEEDS. HOW IS THAT GOING ON RIGHT NOW?

Laura says WELL, THE PROBLEM WITH IEPs RIGHT NOW IS THE SAME AS IT WAS BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. THERE'S NO ENFORCEMENT. THERE'S NO FOLLOW-UP. IF YOU ASK ME IN MY CAREER HOW MANY TIMES I'VE HAD THE SUPERVISOR ASK ME, YOU KNOW, ARE YOU FOLLOWING SO AND SO'S IEP, THE ANSWER WOULD BE ZERO. SO ENFORCEMENT OF THOSE IE Ps IS LEFT ENTIRELY UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS TO ADVOCATE FOR THEMSELVES OR THEIR PARENTS. SO IF A CHILD IS GUARANTEED EXTRA TIME, FOR INSTANCE, ON A TEST IN THEIR IEP, IF THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR THEIR SENSORY NEEDS, IF THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE MOVEMENT BREAKS AND SO ON, HOW DO YOU DO A MOVEMENT BREAK IN AN ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT? PART OF THE PROBLEM IS WE'RE ASKING A LOT OF KIDS TO SIT DOWN AND STARE AT A COMPUTER SCREEN FOR 325 MINUTES A DAY. FOR A LOT OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, THAT'S JUST NOT POSSIBLE.

Steve says PAULA, LET ME ASK YOU A BIT ABOUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES BUT, AGAIN, TELL US AS MUCH OR AS LITTLE AS YOU WANT TO AND WE'RE HAPPY TO RESPECT YOUR PRIVACY AS YOU SEE FIT. YOU HAD THE OPTION, I GATHER, OF IN-PERSON CLASSES WITH ONE OF OUR KIDS BUT I GATHER YOU HAVE OPTED FOR 100 PERCENT ONLINE; IS THAT RIGHT?

The caption changes to "Let the parents do it!"

Paula says WE HAVE. THERE ISN'T AN OPTION FOR AN IN BETWEEN. WE HAVE A VIRTUAL BOARD AS WELL. AND FOR US, LIKE I SAID, THERE ARE TWO DRIVERS, ACTUALLY: ONE, WE WEREN'T CONVINCED THAT OUR DAUGHTER WOULD BE ABLE TO FOLLOW ALL THE SAFETY PROTOCOLS. AND ONCE YOU HAVE THOSE CONFLICTS IN A CLASSROOM, YOU'RE ALWAYS WORRIED AS A PARENT THAT THERE'S GOING TO BE CREATING CONFLICT BETWEEN YOU AND OTHER FAMILIES AND THE BOARD IS PUT IN THE POSITION OF TRYING TO MANAGE THAT. THAT WAS ONE ISSUE. THE OTHER ISSUE IS JUST THE STABILITY. WE COULDN'T PIVOT EVERY FEW MONTHS IN HOME, AT SCHOOL, BACK AND FORTH. BOTH OF US, MY HUSBAND AND I, HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING AT HOME AND MAKING IT WORK AND WORKING A LITTLE BIT LESS, IF WE NEED TO, TO SUPPORT OUR KIDS. SO WE WERE ABLE TO ACCESS THAT PRIVILEGE. THERE ARE FAMILIES THAT HAVE TO MAKE THAT CHOICE NOTWITHSTANDING THEY DON'T HAVE THAT PRIVILEGE BECAUSE OF THE SIGNIFICANT HEALTH CONCERNS ESPECIALLY IN HOT SPOTS. AND THAT'S HAPPENING TOO. AND SO WHILE THE PROVINCE HAS PUT WHATEVER MONEY THEY'VE PUT FORWARD, A LOT OF THIS IS ABOUT PLANNING AND IT'S ABOUT ENFORCEMENT AND IT'S ABOUT CONSISTENCY AND IT'S ABOUT HELPING THE SCHOOL BOARDS NOT HAVING TO REINVENT THE WHEEL FOR ALL 72 OF THE SCHOOL BOARDS, AND THEY DIDN'T DO THAT. AND THAT'S WHY WE HAVE THIS WILDLY DIFFERENT APPROACH AND SYSTEMS AND OPTIONS AND ACCESSIBILITY CONCERNS, IT'S WORKING FOR SOME KIDS BECAUSE THE SCHOOL TEAM AND THE STAFF ARE ON IT AND OTHER KIDS NOT SO MUCH. IT'S ACTUALLY CONSISTENT. THIS IS THE WAY IT IS BEFORE COVID. NOW IT'S EVEN MORE CHAOTIC.

Steve says IF I'M READING BETWEEN THE LINES HERE IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE DOING A LOT OF BACK-STOPPING AND TEACHING OF YOUR CHILD AS WELL; IS THAT RIGHT?

Paula says OH, WE HAVE TO. IF IT WERE NOT HAVING ME AND MY HUSBAND, THERE ARE TWO OF US AND TWO CHILDREN, AND ONE IS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ONE AND THE OTHER IS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OTHER. WE GET A LOT OF HELP TOO. EVEN WITH THE AMOUNT OF EFFORT AND ENERGY THAT WE'RE PUTTING INTO IT, YOU KNOW, WE JUST HAD A NEIGHBOUR OFFER TO VOLUNTEER AS A TEACHER TO HELP US HALF AN HOUR A DAY AND THEN WE DO HAVE SOME SUPPORT FROM THE SCHOOL AS WELL. AS I SAID, IT'S... I THINK WE'RE UNUSUAL IN THE LEVEL OF SUPPORT WE'RE GETTING, TO BE COMPLETELY HONEST. AND EVEN STILL, WE ARE DOING A LOT, AND SOME DAYS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS.

Steve says DAVID, I WANT YOU TO GIVE US SOME INFORMATION AS IT RELATES TO THE SITUATION WITH EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANTS BECAUSE MANY STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, WHEN THEY GO TO SCHOOL AND ARE IN THE CLASSROOM, THEY DO HAVE ONE-ON-ONE EAs HELPING THEM. OBVIOUSLY IF THEY'RE STAYING HOME AND THEY'RE DOING ALL OF THEIR EDUCATION ONLINE, PRESUMABLY THAT IS NOT THERE FOR THEM. SO HOW IS THAT WORKING ITSELF OUT?

David says WELL, FIRST, IT DEPENDS ON WHAT PEOPLE WORK OUT LOCALLY BECAUSE, HERE AGAIN, THERE'S NO PROVINCIAL DIRECTION AND STANDARDS ON WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. SOME HAVE COME UP WITH WAYS TO HAVE THE EA EITHER ON THE PHONE WHEN THE STUDENT IS IN FRONT OF THEIR iPAD AND FOR SOME THAT WILL WORK. FOR SOME, IT WON'T WORK, OR IT'S NOT OFFERED, OR IF THE PARENTS DON'T KNOW HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR IT BECAUSE NOT ALL PARENTS HAVE THE SKILL-SET THAT PEOPLE LIKE LAURA AND PAULA HAVE AT DOING THIS KIND OF UPHILL BATTLE ADVOCACY. THE SECOND THING IS, HERE AGAIN WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON ACROSS THE PROVINCE BECAUSE THE PROVINCE HASN'T ASKED PARENTS TO FIND OUT. AND THE THIRD THING IS THAT ANSWER FROM STEPHEN LECCE, THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION'S OFFICE, ABOUT FUNDING IS DEEPLY DISTURBING. DEEPLY DISTURBING. AND EMBLEMATIC OF THEIR FAILURE. WHEN ASKED ABOUT THIS, THEY DON'T SAY, "WE'VE GOT A PLAN OR WE'VE GOT A PLAN TO CREATE A PLAN OR WE HAVE PEOPLE IN CHARGE WHO ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING WHEN IT COMES TO EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES," NO, THEY JUST DO THE SANTA CLAUS THING: LOOK AT ALL THE MONEY WE'VE GIVEN OUT. WELL, 32 MILLION BUCKS DIVIDED BY THE NUMBER OF KIDS IS A GRAND TOTAL OF ABOUT 140 BUCKS A KID. THAT DOESN'T BUY YOU A WHOLE LOT. BUT IN A LOT OF WAYS, STEVE, THIS ISN'T ABOUT MONEY. THE FACT IS THE PROVINCIAL BLUNDERING IS COSTING US MONEY. IF THE PROVINCE CAME UP WITH SOLUTIONS AND MANDATED THEM ACROSS THE BOARD AS THEY WERE REPEATEDLY ADVISED TO DO FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, THEY WOULD BE SAVING SCHOOL BOARDS THE COST OF HAVING TO EACH FIGURE OUT: HOW DO WE DO EAs ONLINE? THEY WOULD KNOW THAT. I'LL GIVE YOU ANOTHER EXAMPLE. RIGHT NOW, LOOK AT STUDENTS WHO ARE BLIND OR LOW VISION. FOR ONE THING, THE ONLINE RESOURCES THAT ARE PROVIDED, FORGIVE ME, BY TVO, TO WHICH THE GOVERNMENT POINTS, HAVE HUGE ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEMS. I POINTED THIS OUT ON YOUR PROGRAM SEVEN MONTHS AGO.

Steve says YEP.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

David says IT APPEARS NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE TO FIX THEM. CERTAINLY WE HAVEN'T SEEN ANYTHING. WE HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING. AND I WAS JUST ON THE SITE THIS MORNING AND STUMBLED WITHIN ABOUT A MINUTE INTO ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEMS. SO KIDS WITH VISION LOSS AS WELL AS DYSLEXIC KIDS ARE GOING TO HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THEM. TO HELP A STUDENT AT HOME WITH ONLINE LEARNING. BUT THERE'S NO PROVINCIAL OVERSIGHT TO MAKE SURE THAT VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENTS ACROSS THE PROVINCE GET A PROPER NUMBER OF HOURS OF SUPPORT OF TEACHERS FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED. THE PROVINCE DOESN'T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE, DOESN'T KNOW HOW MANY TEACHERS THERE ARE AT EACH BOARD, DOESN'T KNOW HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK THEY'RE GETTING AND THE FEEDBACK IS THAT IT VARIES AGAIN DRAMATICALLY FROM SOME GETTING GREAT SUPPORT, LOCALLY, TO SOME GETTING LITTLE OR NO SUPPORT. AND THE PROVINCE, MINDFUL OF THIS BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN TOLD SINCE BACK... AND DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. AND IT'S REALLY, THIS FAR INTO THE PANDEMIC, INEXCUSABLE.

Steve says YOU SAY INEXCUSABLE. TO PUT IT ON THE RECORD, TVO IS ONE OF THE LARGEST SUPPLIERS OF ONLINE LEARNERS IN THE PROVINCE AND YOU'RE NOT PUTTING ME IN THE POSITION TO DEFEND TVO AND I DON'T FEEL AN OBLIGATION TO DEFEND TVO. THE RECORD IS WHATEVER THE RECORD IS. BUT I AM CURIOUS AS TO WHAT YOU THINK THE EXPLANATION IS FOR THE FACT THAT SO LITTLE PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN YOUR VIEW IN THIS AREA.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

David says BAD PROVINCIAL LEADERSHIP. THE PROVINCE CLAIMS... THEY HOLD PRESS CONFERENCES EARLIER THIS YEAR TO SAY, "WE ARE LEADING BY EXAMPLE ON ACCESSIBILITY." AND THEN WE FIND OUT THAT THE PUBLIC... THE EDUCATIONAL PUBLIC BROADCASTER THAT THE PROVINCE OWNS, OPERATES, AND HAS LEADERSHIP FOR, NOT ONLY DID NOTHING ABOUT THIS BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, BUT WHEN I SPOKE AFTER MY LAST APPEARANCE ON YOUR SHOW WITH THE VICE PRESIDENT FOR DIGITAL CONTENT AND SAID, "YOU NEED A PLAN TO FIX THIS," AND SHE AGREED AND SAID, "LET ME KNOW WHEN THEY'VE GOT ONE," I HAVEN'T HEARD A WORD BACK SINCE. I HAD THE SAME CONVERSATION WITH THE MINISTER, THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION, AND, AGAIN, NOTHING FROM THEM. AND BY THE WAY THE MINISTRY'S OWN ONLINE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES STILL ALSO HAVE ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEMS MONTHS AFTER WE POINTED OUT THAT PROBLEM TO THEM. THEY'RE JUST NOT TAKING THIS IN THE WAY THAT... WITH THE SERIOUSNESS THAT THEY OUGHT.

Steve says LAURA, I WANT TO COME BACK TO YOU ON THE ISSUE OF ONLINE VERSUS IN-CLASSROOM LEARNING. IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT, YOU KNOW, NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU SPENT OR HOW HARD YOU TRIED... AND I'M NOT SAYING THEY ARE, BUT JUST IF... THIS IS A HYPOTHETICAL... THERE ARE SOME STUDENTS FOR WHOM ONLINE JUST ISN'T GOING TO WORK, AND IN THAT CASE, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THEM?

The caption changes to "The limits of virtual classrooms."

Laura says ABSOLUTELY. I MEAN, CLEARLY ONLINE LEARNING WORKS FOR SOME STUDENTS, BUT YOU'RE RIGHT. THERE ARE SOME KIDS THAT SIMPLY CANNOT ADAPT TO THIS MODEL. THEY CAN'T SIT STILL AND ATTEND TO A COMPUTER. THE SENSORY OVERLOAD OF HEARING MULTIPLE VOICES AT THE SAME TIME, THE VISUAL OVERSTIMULATION, THERE'S DEFINITELY A LOT OF KIDS FOR WHOM THIS ISN'T WORKING. I'VE SPOKEN TO SOME PARENTS WHO HAVE, WITH RELUCTANCE, JUST GIVEN UP BECAUSE IT'S NOT WORTH THE BATTLE AND THE TEARS AND THE FRUSTRATION OF TRYING TO DRAG THEIR KIDS THROUGH EVERY DAY. IN TERMS OF SOLUTIONS, I MEAN, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK OUTSIDE ONTARIO I THINK FOR OTHER IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS. I KNOW THE U.K. HAS JUST BROUGHT IN SOMETHING INTERESTING WITH HIRING A BUNCH OF TUTORS. BUT IT'S REALLY COMPLICATED. AND, I MEAN, TEACHING ONLINE AND TEACHING IN PERSON ARE TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES, AND NOW OF COURSE WE HAVE THIS, IN MANY BOARDS, THIS STRANGE HYBRID MODEL THAT'S BEING INTRODUCED, WHERE TEACHERS ARE IN A CLASSROOM WITH SEVERAL STUDENTS WHO ARE PHYSICALLY PRESENT AND THEN THEY'RE SIMULTANEOUSLY SUPPOSED TO BE TEACHING STUDENTS WHO ARE ONLINE. IT'S JUST NOT WORKABLE, AND IT'S KIDS WITH DISABILITIES WHO ARE GOING TO FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS MOST IN THAT MODEL. I SPOKE WITH A TEACHER THIS WEEK WHO SAID THAT THERE WAS AN AUTISTIC KID IN HER CLASSROOM WHO WAS INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATED BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN TRYING TO GET HER ATTENTION FOR HALF AN HOUR. HE WAS ONLINE, AND HE WAS PUTTING THINGS IN THE CHAT, BUT THE COMPUTER IS AT THE BACK OF THE ROOM AND SHE COULDN'T SEE, AND THAT LED TO A WHOLE MELTDOWN AND A WHOLE SERIES OF FRUSTRATIONS. I MEAN, THE HYBRID MODEL BAFFLES ME TO BEGIN WITH. IT'S LIKE ASKING A TEACHER, YOU KNOW, HERE'S THE BEST ANALOGY, SAYING PLAY IN THIS BASKETBALL GAME IN THIS COURT AND SIMULTANEOUSLY COACH THAT BASKETBALL GAME THAT'S GOING ON ON THE COURT NEXT DOOR. YOU KNOW, NOBODY IN THAT MODEL IS REALLY GETTING THE OPTIMAL EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE. SO I'M NOT SURE WHETHER THERE'S A FIX HERE AT ALL.

Steve says WELL, PAULA, LET ME TRY THIS WITH YOU. IF THERE'S... IF YOU GET TO THE END OF THE YEAR... WHEN I SAY "YOU," I DON'T MEAN YOU SPECIFICALLY, BUT PARENTS WITH CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, IF THEY DISCOVER THAT THE YEAR ESSENTIALLY HAS BEEN A WRITE-OFF. DO YOU THINK IT MAKES MORE SENSE TO ESSENTIALLY GIVE THOSE KIDS AN "F," FLUNK THEM, AND HAVE THEM DO THE YEAR OVER, PRESUMABLY A YEAR FROM NOW WHEN THINGS ARE LESS DIRE AND MAY BE BACK TO THE WAY THEY MORE NORMALLY ARE? HOW'S THAT AS AN OPTION?

Paula says WELL, YOU KNOW, THAT'S A VERY HARD QUESTION TO ANSWER. THERE IS A BODY OF EVIDENCE OUT THERE THAT INDICATES THAT HOLDING KIDS BACK WHEN THEY DON'T DO WELL HAS OTHER IMPLICATIONS ON SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING. THERE ARE CERTAINLY LOTS OF FAMILIES WHO WOULD LIKE TO HOLD THEIR KIDS BACK. I'M NOT SURE THAT HOLDING A CHILD BACK IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO AS OPPOSED TO PROVIDING ADDITIONAL SUPPORTS. WE ALSO HAVE A VERY BIG FENCE AROUND THINGS THAT HAVE TO BE DONE AND UNDERSTOOD BY A CERTAIN TIME OR, THAT'S IT, IT'S OVER. THERE ARE FAMILIES, INCLUDING MY OWN... MY PARENTS LOST THREE ENTIRE YEARS OF EDUCATION AS CHILDREN DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. THEY MANAGED TO CATCH UP, THEY MANAGED TO GET THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND HAVE THEM LIVE PRODUCTIVE LIVES. I PERSONALLY DON'T LIKE THE IDEA OF BEING CHAINED TO A SCHEDULE AND CERTAINLY STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES NEED SOME [indiscernible] AND TYPICALLY ARE IN THE SYSTEM DEPENDING ON THE NATURE OF THEIR DISABILITY LONGER THAN THE AVERAGE STUDENT ANYWAY. I DON'T KNOW THAT I WANT PEOPLE TO PANIC AROUND THAT. I DO THINK THE GOVERNMENT WILL HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO MEASURE THE GAP. THEY WILL HAVE TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO THOSE STUDENTS WHO BASICALLY LOST A YEAR. I DON'T KNOW WHY THAT'S EVEN A QUESTION IN THE SENSE THAT IT'S VERY OBVIOUS THAT TYPICAL LEARNERS WILL FIND THEMSELVES POTENTIALLY IN THAT SPACE AS WELL. SO THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO REALLY MEASURE THAT.

Steve says DAVID, I LITERALLY HAVE 20 SECONDS LEFT FOR YOU TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. YOU WANT TO PLAN FOR ALL SCHOOL BOARDS, YOU WANT A COMMAND TABLE FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AT QUEEN'S PARK, YOU WANT MORE REACHING OUT TO PARENTS. PRESUMABLY YOU'VE PUT THAT TO THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION. WHAT DID YOU GET BACK?

The caption changes to "Breaking down the barriers."

David says SILENCE AND "LOOK AT ALL THE MONEY WE'RE SPENDING." BUT FOR PARENTS WHO ARE WATCHING THIS, I WANT TO JUST LET THEM KNOW. IF YOU HAVE A CHILD WITH A DISABILITY, I'VE CREATED AN ONLINE VIDEO THAT WILL GIVE YOU TIPS ON HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR CHILD IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS. GO TO YouTube AND SEARCH FOR TIPS FOR PARENTS WITH STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. I HOPE THOSE TIPS WILL HELP. MEANWHILE, THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, ON THE 8TH OF JULY, PROUDLY SAID DURING QUESTION PERIOD, "I QUITE OFTEN SPEAK TO DAVID LEPOFSKY." WELL, SINCE THEN, I HAVEN'T HEARD A WORD FROM HIM AND HE'S NOT ANSWERED ANY e-mail LETTERS AND I'VE BEEN ASKING FOR A MEETING...

The caption changes to "Producer: Eric Bombicino, @ebombicino; Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Steve says WELL, KEEP US POSTED ON THAT, OKAY, DAVID? LET US KNOW. KEEP US POSTED. THAT'S DAVID LEPOFSKY ALONG WITH LAURA KIRBY-McINTOSH AND PAULA BOUTIS. WE'RE REALLY GLAD YOU COULD ALL JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT. MANY THANKS.

Laura says THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING US.

Watch: 'A Disaster': Online Learning for Students With Disabilities