Debates and complaints
Where is Barry Weisleder getting his information that we retired teachers have "close to $50,000" pensions that we "top up" with supply work? (Letters, September 2005) Many of us are single-parent women who have pensions closer to $30,000.
But pension amount is beside the point. Schools hire people they know can handle the challenge of a particular assignment. That's why they hire us – the tried and true.
Heather de Veber is an occasional secondary school teacher for the Toronto DSB.
In 1985 I applied to Queen's University Department of Education, Technological Studies to upgrade my qualifications to include technological (automotive) studies.
I had graduated from OCAD, Sheridan College, Concordia University, Queen's University (B Ed, Environmental Science and Art) and acquired two automotive trade certificates from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities – one having an interprovincial seal. I completed my teacher training with a practicum at a French high school and am bilingual.
Queen's University required an affidavit from the Ministry proving my credentials to be genuine. Ministry officials would not issue one and Queen's refused me. I appealed but eventually gave up and moved on to manage numerous highly successful businesses where I trained countless employees for all kinds of white- and blue-collar jobs.
In 2001 I applied again to Queen's ADQ Technologies Automotive hoping the education faculty would accept my credentials; they did. The course was cancelled, not for lack of applicants but for lack of enough applicants; why settle for none when some could be had?
Go figure. If you wonder why there is a lack of qualified technological teachers, that's why.
Daniel Archambault is a member of the College who has been working in the private sector since the 1980s. He is the owner of This is Art Publishing, based in Lancaster.
Over the years, the debate about class size has failed to include the physical dimensions of classrooms or variations in administrative time for different courses. How we meet students' needs when there are too many of them is a serious issue, but not the only one.
A lecture hall may accommodate hundreds but a room designed for 30 desks in rows is pretty uncomfortable for an activity-centered, technology-supported class of 35+ adolescents. Serpentining between tables and chairs in the middle of the room and computers around the perimeter, while trying to command students' attention, is a challenge. And narrow windows that only open half way in the heat of June lend perspective to how many bodies should be squeezed into a room.
Different subjects have different needs – both spatial and administrative. One size does not fit all.
Tobi Gordon teaches media studies, media arts and interdisciplinary studies at York Mills Collegiate Institute, Toronto DSB.
How could we?
I read a Toronto Sun article about Philip Louis King being allowed to teach in Ontario [October 9, 2005] and assumed the Sun was exaggerating King's involvement in Internet kiddie porn in Japan. So I went into the College web site hoping to set my mind at rest over this individual being permitted to teach. I can't believe what I found:
King argued that he had not broken any laws in Hong Kong, that his accessing of pornography sites had occurred outside of school hours, that no child had been a witness to it, and that the school should have made it technically impossible for him to access pornographic web sites through the school system.
I now agree with the Sun that King's licence should not be returned. Though there may be circumstances not revealed through the web site or newspaper, King was viewing child pornography and then blamed the school for allowing him to access such sites! I'm ashamed to be a member of a group that would reinstate this man's licence after some sensitivity training just because his behaviour happened to occur in another country and culture. Where are our standards now? Shame, shame.
Corrine Donnelly is retired from the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic DSB, where she occasionally teaches K to Grade 8.
Where is fair?
As a non-white, middle-aged male who is attempting to break into the elementary school system, the last two issues have not been cause for optimism.
There may be initiatives to attract non-white and middle-aged people into teacher-education programs. But at school boards, especially outside of the GTA, I don't see efforts to reflect age and ethnic diversity in their teaching populations.
Retired teachers make it harder for new teachers to enter the profession and widespread nepotism undermines the fairness of hiring practices.
Norm Ibuki now teaches Grade 2 at Corsair PS, Peel DSB.