The B.C.Teachers' Federation has come out strongly againstthe idea of separate schools catering to children with special learning needs, an idea raised by Education Minister Shirley Bond earlier this week.

Bond said said she could envision provincial public school for children with autism, as an example.

BCTF president Jinny Sims said she is appalled at theproposal, calling it "alarming."

She said there were special needs schools when she first got into teaching, and argues separating students hurts them more than it helps.

"You know, if the funding is there to build these new programs in segregated settings, then surely that money is there to provide that support to the students in the school system," she told CBC News.

"There are ways to provide modules to provide support to kids with different kinds of learning needs. But I don't think the answer is to take them out of that school and put them in a segregated school."

One parent lobbying ministry for separate program

However, at least one parent two boys with autism is glad the issue is up for debate.

Cyndi Gerlach said her older son spends 90 per cent of his time at school in a separate room with a special needs worker anyway.

She is actively lobbying the ministry to help her build a separate, privately-run program for autistic children within a public school setting, saying the present system isn't working.

"We've gone from 100 per cent exclusion, to 100 per cent inclusion. We need to have a middle ground for some of these kids. We need to have what's best for the child, not what's best for a school district or a school."