Absolute politics

Last month, The Vancouver Sun's Nicholas Read reported "former education minister Christy Clark and Vancouver businesswoman Wendy Cocchia want to establish a publicly funded school in Vancouver for children with disabilities." Ms. Cocchia, the owner of the Absolute Spa Group, envisions "a publicly funded kindergarten-to-Grade 12 school for up to 200 students along the lines of the Mediated Learning Academy in Coquitlam, an independent institution where 102 children representing more than 30 different medical diagnoses attend classes no bigger than 10 students each." But that's not the only recent foray Absolute Spa has made into the world of provincial politics. The company donated $295 to the provincial Liberals on March 29, 2006 - its first such contribution according to a review of financial reports filed since 1999 with Elections British Columbia. Absolute Spa hasn't yet returned a call requesting comment on that donation.


Why would Absolute Spa comment on that donation? In fact, I hope they don't. $295... give me a break. You are really stretching it Sean. To bring some lame angle into a story about helping kids with disabilities is disappointing.

I appreciate the opportunity to find how accessible the government is to most people. A rather reasonable charge, I'd say. I guess we'll have to see what happens in the future. Hopefully it will pay off for all concerned.

I bet that the 295 represents gift certificates donated to a Liberal Party event silent auction. But seriously, even if it was cold hard cash donated directly into Gordon Campbell's waiting hands, is this supposed to mean anything? I mean, c'mon, even the thousands of dollars the Kingston Education group donated to the B.C. Libs over the years didn't mean diddly when it came time to yank their licence.

This entry doesn't even register a *yawn* ....

Does "NappyGuy's" label mean what we think it means?

It's a perfectly legitimate question in the context of the Education Minister announcing her intention to create such a school as the solution to the dire situation facing these kids without consulting the other 60,000 parents of K - 12 students with special needs in BC.

When the Ministry belatedly held an invitation-only meeting to ask a few other parents what they thought of the idea, they received an earful. And after Vancouver, for example, just announced further cuts to special ed services for public school students, there will be even more questions about why is the Province investing in an elite school for 200 students with special needs while forcing BC's public schools to cut already pathetic special ed services to the other 59,800 such students.

I wish Ms Cocchia well in her efforts to secure her child a decent education. I just wish that since she's obviously got the ear of the powers-that-be in Victoria, she'd consider a solution that helps all the other students with special needs whose parents don't enjoy access to top BC Liberals officials.

Is this becoming too clear? Mr. and Mrs. Cocchia are married. Mrs. Cocchia operates the finest exclusive day spas in the fanciest of hotels while Mr. Sergio Cocchia is the President of a special needs school academy that receives between 35% and 50% of government funding and classroom sizes of only ten students.Truely, our congratulations on your success as business people! The spa business can be viewed at www.absolutespa.com the special needs school can be seen at it's own website (must check this out) www.mediatedlearningacademy.org or the independent school association advocating for this is seen at www.fisabc.ca with a great mention of John Stuart Mill's Liberalistic views (1859) reminding all families that "the state is responsible for the whole or any large part of educating our people". Community Living British Columbia is legislating everywhere in it's vision/principles at www.communitylivingbc.ca for equity to all families across BC. Emphasis is on individualized planning supports. Ironically,CLBC very proud of it's first year of funding revenue surplus / but very very quiet about it's untouched and growing waitlists or airport square headquarters office.(see newsletter March 2007 on CLBC site for surplus announcement) Local Managers are said to be receiving bonus money aka (performance bonus) for avoidance of new expenditures at the cost of vulnerable families requesting much needed supports. This too, adds to the term of "dynamic tension" between the Facilitator and the Quality Analyst.

The provincial average cost for each person with disabilities in this province ranges from town to town starting at $65,000 all the way down to $35,000 as is reported by a CLBC staffer.Just ask your local CLBC Quality Service Analyst for a breakdown of regional and provincial allocations. This is in no way equitable as per the vision of the CLBC Board and the previous but now dismantled Transition Steering Committee - TSC - which Honorable Stan Hagen and the boys were proud of. MCFD and the Minister are too busy avoiding this all when they should actually be stepping in. It seems that they might be too busy defending Ms. Du Toit and her $216,000 per year job on top of her $2000.00 per month expense account.... and similar situations.BCGEU is also somehere in there, delaying front line work by stating their support for brothers and sisters and a clear denial of their own staffer's pay levels versus skill levels. Ask a local BCGEU rep for the pay grid as per their own unique collective agreement.

British Columbia is in a labour relations trap. Hopefully, brighter minds will soon prevail on behalf of those less fortunate. Afterall, this should be the priority of all involved

Ridiculous, Nappyguy and Curious Carol are trying to avoid the facts by calling each other down and focussing on the Editor for mention of political contribution in the amount of $295.00?

Stupid post. 295 bucks does not an access-key buy.

"BCGEU is also somehere in there, delaying front line work by stating their support for brothers and sisters and a clear denial of their own staffer's pay levels versus skill levels. Ask a local BCGEU rep for the pay grid as per their own unique collective agreement.

British Columbia is in a labour relations trap. Hopefully, brighter minds will soon prevail on behalf of those less fortunate. Afterall, this should be the priority of all involved."

This isn't the first time that right wing populist commentators have attempted to blame those who work with disabled or special needs children for any insufficiency in resources to do the job. The notion that the service providers are earning too much money because of union agreements, and that this limits the Crown's ability to provide a level of service that is adequate enough to meet clients needs and still stay within the bounds of what middle class taxpayers can afford, is not a new idea.

In fact, the BC Liberal Govt's decision to privatize all non-medical services in BC's public hospitals, from cooking to security, was based on this very premise. The consequences of this drive, which was really motivated by a Sponsorship-like desire to create lucrative contracting opportunities for Liberal friendly companies, are now clear. Fraser Valley hospitals have inedible "re-thermed" food that neither Gordon Campbell or George Abbott would ever eat themselves, and which is certainly not served in the hospitals on the West Side or the North Shore who serve the province's wealthiest residents. Other hospitals have had cleaning and infection problems, which no doubt occured in the past, but the frequency seems to be increaseing.

I think joe is more concerned about making sure that service providers incomes are kept in check than in providing services to children.

An essential component of providing essential services to children with disabilities involves monitoring all government spending and service provider surplus' so that available funds are directed back into service delivery.This article reminds us that we should not consider elitism or specialization until we have ensured the well being of all existing individuals in the public school systems and communities first and foremost. This province is a long way off from that at this time.

First off, for Dawn, Christy Clarke is the ex Education Minister. Connections still I'm sure but she is a private citizen.

And how many years ago was it that it was decided that it was much better for most of our special needs kids to be intergrated into our public schools. 25 years roughly I think? So why now the big flip flop? Where are the studies showing that these kids are doing so poorly that they must be segregated again?

Or is this just for the rich and special kids?

If it's true what I hear that those hugely overpaid service workers, classroom assistants, are to be phased out or cut back then these kids plus the other 20 to 30 plus rambunctious ones will be left to one teacher. This is cost effective? It is nothing good, but it is cost effective...I guess.

Maybe we can close all the schools down soon anyway. I'm sure that thru TILMA some company can find a better, more profitable use for the school property than what they are being used for now if this is where they are headed. It's not even half decent daycare.

Maybe all the schools could be renovated into lovely large day spas. And the kids can find some sort of work. Something for small fingers. Other countries do do it. The Campbell Gov already removed most child labour laws, they could remove the rest. Maybe they have and just haven't told us yet.

Joe, thank you for your info. Very good links that explain a lot. While I don't agree with you on your union position as I have good reason to know otherwise. (My daughter will never retire a rich woman nor drive a hot car, but she loves the kids) you have given me a lot to think about, to read and to back up what I felt was typically lib flakyness (even tho it's really not them yet).

The people who are driving hot wheels are those in charge of the ongoing flow of public funds at unions as well as government/ministry offices.In schools and or public service agencies the staff work hard.In the offices where money is doled out.... that's another story.

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