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Teachers hold rally downtown

Members of the Abbotsford District Teachers' Association marched in demonstration on Wednesday, but not out of any particular beef with the Abbotsford Board of Education.

ADTA president Jeff Dunton said the purpose of the march was to remind the public about the Nov. 19 municipal election, that it includes school board trustees, and get voters out.

"We were highlighting that education is an important issue, and that kids matter," he said.

There was an all-candidates meeting that evening, and teachers hoped that their public demonstration might encourage more people to attend. About 18 teachers took part, and marched from the ADTA office on Cyril Street to Five Corners.

Dunton said the ADTA is not supporting any particular candidates in the municipal election.

He said bargaining is the number one issue for teachers at present, but that is "all stalled at the provincial table."

Dunton attended the local all-candidates meeting, but found it did not get at "the meat," of the issues in the district.

Locally, teachers are concerned that there are more than 180 classrooms in Abbotsford that contain four or more special needs students. Each of them has an IEP, or individualized education program. There are teachers aids to assist in this classrooms, but the union feels more are needed.

"The aids are spread rather thin," said Dunton.

Another issue is teacher librarians. In 2001 there were more than 27 of these specialist teachers in the district, and now there are seven. Dunton said classroom teachers are expected to pick up the slack, but they may not have the research expertise or library science background of teacher librarians.

"The loss of a teacher librarian is a huge hit to any school," said Dunton.

They specialize in showing kids how to use the library, materials that will interest them most, and giving kids a love of reading.

"So students see books as something to enjoy and relax with, rather than avoid books at all costs."

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