“It does create some issues. It causes some grief. How do you deal with that is a real hard question and it is one you know I think is driving, it’s causing the teachers extra time and trouble and it is certainly I think causing some students to move into other areas and the private sector as well.”
He was responding to a question about the 66,000 student drop in enrolment in public schools since 2001. After a video of his response was posted on Youtube, Pimm has received flack from the B.C. Teachers Federation and the B.C. NDP, along with Vice-President of the Peace River North Teachers’ Association Mary Tremain.
However, Pimm maintains his words have been twisted dramatically, and that he and the Liberal government endorse the integration of students. He says his comments were simply based on what he’s heard on his travels across the province.
“It certainly wasn’t my words, I was relaying what I have actually heard,” he says. “There’s certain reasons that the system is declining. I think we have an extremely good public school system.”
He argues that since 2001, the Liberals have increased funding for special needs students by 60 per cent, including $60 million last year in a learning improvement fund.
“What that has done is added another 500 teachers to the classrooms and another 400 teacher’s assistants to the classrooms, so we know that there’s a concern there and we certainly give it a high priority.”
Pimm asserts he supports having special needs children taught in the same classrooms as other children.