On numerous occasions I have heard the argument that the Ontario College of Teachers is a regulatory body that must concern itself only with intake and exit from the profession. The corollaries to this argument are that: anything else the College does exceeds its mandate, and the College fee indicates that it is operating in areas it shouldn’t.
Let’s have a look at what the College does, beginning with Membership Services, by far the largest department at the College.
The College takes in approximately 12,500 newly certified teachers a year. We also deal with exit – members retire, expire, and in rare cases are suspended or have their certificates revoked. Intake and exit, however, are only the bread – we should examine the rest of the sandwich.
All records are catalogued in hard copy and electronic form, both on-site and off-site. Every year 2,500 interim certificates are converted to permanent ones and over 33,000 Additional Qualifications (AQs) are added to the register. Membership Services handles 16,000 interactions a month – approximately 500 calls, 150 e-mails and 30 walk-ins per day.
We maintain a database of educational and consular contacts with over 100 countries, and examine and verify documents from all over the world. Sessions are provided at the College to assist internationally educated teachers.
The Investigations and Hearings department investigates complaints, provides assistance to committees and panels, conducts hearings and oversees dispute resolution – in both English and French. Service in this area is often mischaracterized as leading to exit from the profession, but that is both a rare occurrence and a small part of our mandate. Our fair and transparent processes provide service to the profession and the membership and serve the public interest.
The College is mandated by the Ontario College of Teachers Act to accredit teacher education programs offered by faculties of education. Accordingly, we accredit 49 specific teacher education programs offered by 18 faculties. The Standards and Accreditation department supports the process and provides ongoing assistance in the application of the standards of practice and ethical standards for the profession. The department is now developing 59 course guidelines for new AQ programs to be added to the qualifications schedules following Council’s review of the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation.
Our work in the development of regulations has been under-reported. In the past few years we have dealt with regulatory change concerning elections, conflict of interest, the Public Interest Committee and teacher qualification regulations, including AQ schedules, the length of programs at faculties of education and specific programs such as Aboriginal and deaf education.
Council will review the accreditation regulation in the coming months. As well, regulatory change will almost certainly be dictated by labour-mobility agreements within Canada and the Lisbon Convention presently being ratified by the federal government. None of our regulatory work would be possible without the ongoing support of the College’s policy unit.
Our communications staff maintains two separate web sites and publishes two quarterly magazines (English and French) as well as dealing with correspondence and media. We have four full-time translators at the College whose output may exceed four million words again this year.
All departments at the College support the ongoing work of the following Council committees: Executive, Accreditation, Discipline, Investigation, Standards of Practice, Registration Appeal, Accreditation Appeal, Fitness to Practise, Quality Assurance, Nominations and Elections.
So, does the College deal only with intake and exit? No.
Is the College exceeding its mandate? No – we are governed by legislation and we fulfill our mandate with fewer employees per member than any other regulatory body.
And, as I indicated in the last issue, our fee is the lowest in the province.