Sunday, December 17, 2006

David Roberts - New Assistant Deputy Minister (Student Services)

The Anglophone side of New Brunswick's Department of Education has a new Assistant Deputy Minister (Student Services). His name is David Roberts. This is an important position in the Department of Education for students with an autism disorder. Much of the advice concerning services for students with exceptionalities, including autism, received by Education Minister Lamrock from the civil service will come from those in Student Services. Only Deputy Minister John Kershaw will be senior to Mr. Roberts on the Anglophone Side.

Mr. Roberts has previously served in a number of capacities with the Province of New Brunswick in Education, Service New Brunswick and other areas. A press release detailing his background upon his appointment as General Manager of Service New Brunswick in 2004 describes his background in some detail:

"David Roberts
General Manager, Service New Brunswick

David Roberts was appointed, General Manager of Business Development, Marketing and Sales for Service New Brunswick in 2004. This position has a mandate to leverage current Service New Brunswick expertise and technologies in pursuit of e-government opportunities locally, domestically and internationally. David previously worked with the provincial department of Intergovernmental Affairs building relationships and brokering strategic partnerships between the New Brunswick Government and the Government of Canada that enhanced economic and social opportunities for New Brunswickers. Prior to this as Executive Director with New Brunswick’s Information Highway 1993-2000, he was part of a team that received many local, national and international awards for community capacity building and civic entrepreneurship through the creation of New Brunswick’s “culture of technology”. David has consulted and been a guest speaker in most provinces in Canada as well as in locations around the world such as Cienfuegos/Cuba, San Luis/Argentina, Kuala Lampur/Malaysia, Tasmania/Australia, Scarborough/Tobago, Beijing/China and Washington/USA. He has been a teacher, guidance counselor, Ministry of Education administrator and interim federal Director of Industry Canada’s Community Access initiative. He has worked in both the public and private sector and is know for his creativity and the capacity to “think outside the box.”"

Hopefully the new Assistant Deputy Minister (Student Services) will subscribe to an evidence based approach to the education of students with autism disorder. The absolutist philosophy of mainstream classroom inclusion for all students and failure to provide autism trained Teacher Assistants and Resource Teachers have impaired the development of autistic children in New Brunswick schools. Attempts to introduce flexibility into location and methods of instruction for autistic students have met with persistent resistance from some Education officials and others with vested interests in the absolute philosophy of mainstream classroom inclusion for all students. The questioning of mainstream classroom inclusion as a solve all panacea which has been taking place in the United Kingdom and some areas of the United States was by passed in the MacKay inclusion review in New Brunswick schools. There is no reason to expect that Mr. Roberts will introduce a more evidence based and flexible approach to educating autistic students. We can only wait and see at this time.

No comments: