December 1997

Bill 160
Bill 160


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Government Withdraws Bill 160 Clauses on Non-Certified Instructors

The Ontario College of Teachers took a stand against provisions in the Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997 that undermined the College’s public accountability for ethical and professional standards in Ontario’s classrooms. The government has now withdrawn four clauses in the bill that would have allowed cabinet to put non-certified instructors in sole charge of classes and courses.

The College’s recommendations to the Ministry of Education and Training have resulted in significant changes to Bill 160.

As the committee reviewing the bill began clause-by-clause examination of the legislation, Education and Training Minister Dave Johnson announced the withdrawal of regulation-making powers that appeared to undermine the mandate of the College to certify teachers and determine their qualifications.

"We are pleased that Mr. Johnson has listened to the College and removed the possibility that non-certified instructors will replace qualified teachers in Ontario’s classrooms," said College Chair Donna Marie Kennedy.

The College had recommended the withdrawal of four clauses of the Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997. The minister withdrew all four.

Registrar Margaret Wilson said, "These amendments deal specifically with professional issues that affect the College’s mandate. We were very concerned that these sections would undermine the College’s accountability to parents and students for professional standards and ethics."

College Council, meeting in a special session on October 16, had passed a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the four clauses after College legal counsel Tom Forbes told the members that his examination of Bill 160 clearly showed that instructors who were not qualified members of the College could be placed in sole charge of classrooms.

Johnson, who had just been appointed Minister of Education and Training, wrote to College Chair Donna Marie Kennedy the day after the Council meeting. "It is certainly not this government’s intention that Bill 160 would change teacher qualifications or alter the role of the College," he said in his letter. "The government and the College agree that classroom teachers should not be supplanted by unqualified persons."

But the College registrar told MPPs reviewing the bill that, "Subsection 4 is very specific. ‘A regulation may establish different requirements for different classes of teacher,’ which means that you would have a College of Teachers running a regulation, which was transferred to us on May 20 this year, on one class of teacher and apparently the Ministry of Education running a parallel operation."

Kennedy, Wilson and College Vice-Chair John Cruickshank presented the College brief to the Standing Committee on the Administration of Justice on October 20 just hours after they met for the first time with the new education minister.

"Students have the right to be taught the subjects covered by the province’s curriculum by teachers who are qualified and accountable for their practice," Kennedy told the MPPs.

The College representatives told the committee that the bill would undermine public accountability by creating two classes of teachers – those required to belong to the College and subject to standards of practice and professional conduct, and those who are ineligible for membership and not accountable for their conduct or teaching practice.

Wrong Assumption

Donna Marie Kennedy told the committee that the teaching profession is deeply concerned about the thinking that appeared to underlie sections of the bill. "There seems to be an assumption that possession of knowledge and skill is synonymous with the capacity to impart that knowledge and skill to elementary and secondary students.

"The research on effective teaching clearly shows that this assumption is wrong."

A committee member wanted to know the College’s position on "Wayne Gretzky coming to your school and teaching hockey to a class."

Cruickshank told the MPP, "Of course, anyone at that skill level will be welcome in a school to help present a particular skill to youngsters, but that’s teaching in a very narrow area. There are few people in the world like Wayne Gretzky who can make a living out of it. For the vast majority of youngsters who are interested in it, that’s not going to be their world. That would be a nice motivational thing for them, but it’s not instructional programs.

"But in and of itself, as the principal of a school, we need the trained teacher, not just someone with a very specific and narrow skill area who can’t connect it to the broader base of an educational program that is critical for our young people as they move forward. We don’t know what our graduates’ world is going to look like 12 years from now, but we can’t provide them with a narrow set of skills. We have to teach them at a much broader base."

College Resolution on Bill 160

The College Council met in a special session on October 16th to discuss the sections of the Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997 that affect the mandate of the College. The focus for discussion was this motion:

Whereas the Legislature granted the teaching profession the right of self regulation and assured the public that the profession would be accountable by establishing the Ontario College of Teachers on June 27th, 1996 and

Whereas the Ontario College of Teachers is responsible – and publicly accountable – for regulating the profession of teaching; for developing, establishing and maintaining qualifications for membership in the College; for accrediting teacher education programs; and for establishing and enforcing professional and ethical standards applicable to members of the College and

Whereas the Minister of Education and Training pledged on July 21, 1997 to consult with the College on issues related to teaching qualifications and

Whereas sections 81 and 118 of Bill 160 will create the need for a parallel structure to the Ontario College of Teachers and

Whereas sections 81 and 118 of Bill 160 undermine the College’s public accountability for ethical and professional standards in Ontario’s classrooms

Be it resolved:
that the Council of the Ontario College of Teachers recommend to the Minister of Education and Training that references to clauses 170.1 (3) (e), (4), and (5) of the Education Act as outlined in section 81 of Bill 160, and clause 262 (2) of the Education Act as outlined in section 118 of Bill 160 be withdrawn.

The resolution was debated in committee of the whole and approved by a vote of 20-7.

Non-Certified Instructors – A Chronology

  • The issue of allowing school boards to use personnel other than certified teachers in fields such as guidance, library sciences and computer technology surfaces in:

The Royal Commission on Learning report For the Love of Learning, January 1995

The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) report, Removing the Barriers to Cost-Effective Education, September 1995

  • On March 6, 1996, then-minister John Snobelen announces the "appointment of a small group to investigate and make recommendations, by the summer, on the feasibility of having qualified personnel who do not have an Ontario Teacher’s Certificate perform functions such as library, career counselling, and computer-related services."
  • In July 1996, the ministry announces the creation of the Differentiated Staffing Project.
  • In late spring of 1997, Education Minister Snobelen requests advice from the newly established Education Improvement Commission (EIC) to assist in developing a new funding model.
  • The Council of the College, at its first meeting on May 1, 1997, resolves: That the Chair and Registrar communicate to the Minister of Education and Training the position of the Council that all requests to the Minister for alterations in the qualification requirements for those who deliver educational programs in Ontario schools be forwarded to the College for consideration, and that the Minister hold such requests for authorization in abeyance until the College has provided a decision or authorization.
  • College Chair and Registrar meet with Education Minister John Snobelen on July 21st. He agrees that several meetings would be arranged between the College and the Minister to "discuss the issue of teaching qualifications, after the Education Improvement Commission has reported on the issue to (the Minister)".
  • EIC reports on September 11th – recommends allowing instructors who are not certified teachers "to supervise students, under specific conditions and circumstances, and to deliver certain programmes (e.g. guidance, sports, technology)". This measure is intended as a means of giving boards "more flexibility in their programme delivery and school organization while ensuring that education quality is maintained or enhanced".
  • On September 11th, College Chair issues a public statement expressing "serious reservations about the Education Improvement Commission’s recommendation to add instructors who are not qualified teachers in the province’s schools" and stating that the "proposal would undermine accountability to parents and students".
  • Bill 160, the proposed Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997, receives first reading in the legislature on September 22nd. It includes four clauses that undermine the College’s accountability for professional standards and ethics:

Clause 170.1 (3) (e):
The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations, (…) designating positions that are not teaching positions and duties that are not teachers’ duties and prescribing the minimum qualifications for a designated position or for performing designated duties.

Clause 170.1 (4):
A regulation may establish different requirements for different classes of teacher, class, position, duty, school or any other variable.

Clause 170.1 (5):
It shall not be presumed that a person is required to be a teacher solely because he or she holds a position that is not designated under clause (3) (e) or performs duties that are not designated under that clause.

Clause 262 (2):
A person who is employed in a position or who performs duties designated by a regulation made under clause 170.1 (3) (3) is not required to be a teacher.

  • College Council meets in special session October 16th, debates and passes resolution calling for withdrawal of four clauses.
  • October 17th, newly-appointed Minister of Education and Training Dave Johnson writes to Chair and Registrar, "It is certainly not this government’s intention that Bill 160 would change teacher qualifications or alter the role of the College."
  • College Chair Donna Marie Kennedy, Vice-Chair John Cruickshank and Registrar Margaret Wilson meet the education minister on October 20th.
  • October 20th, College presents its position to Standing Committee on the Administration of Justice.
  • Discussions continue between College and ministry staff.
  • October 30th, Minister of Education and Training Dave Johnson announces that the government is withdrawing all four problem clauses.