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June 1999

Cover Story

College Calls on Ministry
to Fund Additional Teacher
Training Spaces Immediately


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Whereas more trained teachers are urgently needed to prevent a serious teacher shortage, and whereas the Ontario faculties of education have enough applicants and capacity to increase enrolment in pre-service programs but cannot afford to admit more teacher candidates because of the current funding structure:

Resolved that the Ontario College of Teachers request that the Minister of Education and Training offer sufficient funding targeted specifically to the Ontario faculties of education to fund an additional 2,000 spaces in Primary-Junior and core technological and academic subjects in Intermediate-Senior pre-service teacher education programs for the next five years commencing with the 1999-2000 academic year to address the teacher shortage.

Ontario needs to sharply increase the number of teachers educated in the province to blunt the impact of the massive wave of retirements that will see half of the College’s members reach retirement age within 10 years.

The Ontario College of Teachers has responded to the looming shortage of qualified teachers by calling on Queen’s Park to fund an additional 2,000 spaces at the province’s 11 faculties of education starting in September. Council member Wayne Cornack, who teaches geography at St. Martin’s Secondary School in Mississauga, moved the resolution passed by Council on February 26.

"The College study reported in December’s Professionally Speaking provides the only credible numbers out there on the supply of teachers, and they tell us that we need to see a significant investment by the government in teacher education," he said. "One of the crucial elements of this College resolution is the call for targeted funding to address the areas of impending shortages that we have identified. It’s also important that this funding be committed for at least five years, since there’s no doubt the shortages will last well beyond that, and the faculties need stable funding to plan properly."

Council member Cecilia Reynolds is chair of the graduate department at Brock’s faculty of education. She says faculties across the province are looking for ways to increase enrolment. "Faculties are all saying, ‘We have the know-how and people; we don’t have enough resources to expand and still keep the quality of our programs high.’

"If we’re going to attract the best and brightest university students into education, I believe we have to look at measures like increasing funding for scholarships. Tuition and living costs for another year of university are a significant barrier for many candidates," Reynolds said.

There are currently 5,918 teacher candidates enrolled in both consecutive and final-year-concurrent programs at Ontario faculties of education.

 MODEST INVESTMENT

College Registrar Margaret Wilson points out that the proposed investment is relatively modest when compared with initiatives in other jurisdictions. "Ontario teachers are in high demand throughout the English-speaking world, and about 20 per cent of our 1998 graduates did not register with the College. We assume most went elsewhere to teach.

"We have traditionally looked to immigrants from other countries to fill gaps in our teaching ranks. About 2,000 new teachers who registered with the College last year had trained outside Ontario. But when we look at the energetic and innovative ways some other jurisdictions are attacking their teacher shortages, we realize we’re going to face some tough competition."

In Britain, the Blair government has made quality teaching one of its highest priorities, and on March 31 wrapped up a lengthy consultation on a Green Paper that contains sweeping recommendations affecting everything from pay to improving teachers’ working conditions by doubling the annual investment in school buildings.

In his introduction to the Green Paper, Secretary of State for Education and Employment David Blunkett said, "The government is committed to a substantial programme of investment in education — 19 billion over the next three years — because, like you, we want world-class schools for our children in the new century. In a world of rapid change, every pupil will need to be literate, numerate, well-informed and prepared for the citizenship of tomorrow. They will also need the self-esteem and confidence to be able to learn throughout life, as well as to play an active part at work and in their local community. Some useful web sites:

Teachers: Meeting the Challenge
U.K. Department for Employment and Education

U.S. Department of Education

The South Carolina Center for Teacher Recruitment

Market Data Retrieval’s A Look at America’s Teachers Today provides a useful summary of the massive hiring that will take place over the next decade in the U.S.

National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future

 

"Part of this investment is for a new pay and rewards structure for the teaching profession. … Many teachers reach a scale point beyond which they cannot progress, however good they are, unless they take on management responsibilities. Opportunities for professional growth and development are inadequate. Teachers have to spend too much time on administrative chores. And we are not recruiting enough good graduates into the profession.

"Teaching is also changing. Investment in technology, classroom support and school buildings is opening up new possibilities for raising standards and developing pupils’ potential. We are looking to teachers to help create the schools of the future.

 IMPROVE STATUS AND MORALE

"These changes must be matched by a new vision of the profession which offers better rewards and support in return for higher standards. Our aim is to strengthen school leadership, provide incentives for excellence, engender a strong culture of professional development, offer better support to teachers to focus on teaching in the classroom, and improve the image, morale and status of the profession.

"Major reforms are already underway to raise standards, but we can only realise the full potential of our schools if we recruit and motivate teachers and other school staff with the ambition, incentives, training and support to exploit this opportunity."

The Green Paper proposes to add at least 20,000 more teaching assistants to the U.K.’s school system by 2002, establish a National College for School Leadership and provide systematic career and professional development for teachers.

The British government’s proposals include $325 million to boost recruitment in the short-term, scholarships, and measures to encourage a wide range of applicants for teaching through more flexible and rigorous training courses and employment-based routes into teaching.

In the United States, President Bill Clinton issued a Call to Action for American Education in the 21st Century. He said, "We have an enormous opportunity for ensuring teacher quality well into the 21st century if we recruit promising people into teaching and give them the highest quality preparation and training."

 HUGE NEED

The U.S. Department of Education estimates the nation will need 2.2 million teachers in the next 10 years as teachers retire, student enrolment rises and states mandate smaller class sizes. The federal government will offer grants to states to allow them to provide scholarships, high-quality preparation and support services to prospective teachers who agree to teach in high-need schools.

New York state has proposed a package of financial, educational and workplace incentives including a range of annual scholarships for qualified students in return for a commitment to teach in high-need schools. A master teacher program will match experienced teachers who have special training with new teachers needing mentoring and coaching.

New York will also drop unnecessary barriers to qualified out-of-state teachers – a factor that may affect Ontario, as the average salary for New York elementary teachers is significantly higher than the average salary for Ontario elementary teachers. New York city has gone as far afield as Austria and Spain to recruit new teachers.

South Carolina’s Center for Teacher Recruitment, the oldest teacher recruitment program in the U.S., developed a model now being adopted by programs across the country. It recognizes that students make career choices in high school – before, not during university. Recruitment begins early with education clubs offered to 7th and 8th graders. High school students take courses that allow them to "test drive" teaching as a career, exploring current issues in education and innovative teaching practices. A teaching assistant program in high schools allows high-performing students to assist in the classroom.

California must add 20,000 new teachers next year alone, and for the first time is conducting a state-wide advertising campaign to recruit candidates. The state offers mid-career programs to recruit retiring employees in the high-technology and aerospace industry to move into teaching.

Colorado’s Project Promise brings in teachers from fields such as law, geology, chemistry and medicine. In Illinois, the successful Golden Apple program finds and mentors promising young people through high school, university and the early years of teaching.

 SIGNING BONUS

North Carolina offers $30,000 scholarships in return for a four-year commitment to teach. Massachusetts has announced a $20,000 signing bonus for the 50 top new teachers chosen in a national search.

In Ontario, publication of the College’s landmark study already has produced results. Faculties of education had an increase of more than 40 per cent in applicants for 1999.

The College is also participating with a wide range of stakeholders, including the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, directors of education and the faculties on the Minister’s Task Force on Teacher Recruitment and Renewal.

The task force is examining the demand and supply of teachers to identify specific short and long-term strategies, including:

  • improving the status of teaching as a profession
  • encouraging teachers to teach in Ontario
  • creating flexibility in teaching arrangements
  • providing incentives to attract teachers to areas of high need such as computers or skilled trades
  • developing candidates for principal and vice-principal positions
  • increasing enrolment in faculties of education in targeted areas to meet the most pressing staffing needs of school boards
  • recognizing the specific needs of Catholic and French language boards.

Registrar Margaret Wilson says that the College is interested in seeing the task force consider many innovative and workable ideas. However, Wilson cautions that the College will not consider a quick-fix solution of six or seven-week training that puts poorly-trained young teachers into today’s challenging classrooms.

"As the organization charged with regulating the profession of teaching, we don’t believe a band-aid solution will do anything more than put a warm body in an empty space," says Wilson. "It doesn’t provide quality education for children, and it isn’t fair to the young teachers who are unprepared and often overwhelmed."