Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and provide the writer’s daytime phone number. Letters should be addressed to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking, 121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor, Toronto ON  M4W 3M5; e-mail:


Supplying Materials Wrong

I very much enjoyed Teaching With Passion.There were great ideas to incorporate into the classroom. I did have one problem with the article. Mary Borys says she spends up to $1,500 a year on her classroom. "These are financially difficult times for school boards, I know that. My classroom has to be an ideal learning environment and my students require books and toys and art materials that aren't in the budget. They need these things to learn best and it is my job to ensure they're available."

I believe teachers need to provide the best learning environment, but I do not believe it should be a price paid directly by teachers

Joanne Gray
Joanne Gray, currently on maternity leave, teaches Grade 1 at Humberwood Downs Junior Middle Academy, Toronto District School Board.

Teachers' Spending Gives Wrong Idea

I picked up the September issue with hopes of some fresh ideas for teaching language in your profile of "exemplary teacher" Mary Borys. However, I became absolutely incensed at your blatant endorsement of the idea that teachers "spend up to $1,500 a year on teaching and learning materials not provided for under the present funding formula." Is it not enough that some of us have spent hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars already pursuing AQ courses, Specialists, conferences and/or graduate studies?

"Exemplary teachers" love the newly-inspired feeling of leaving a conference with a fresh bank of strategies to use in their classroom, but are we now to understand that we will be less than "exemplary" if we are not also willing to forego our personal funds to subsidize an education system with an inadequate funding formula?

I would like to share an idea initiated by my teaching partner. We decorated a piece of bristol board entitled "Donation Board" with a large blank area in the middle. We fill the blank area with sticky notes. On each note is one item we require to make our classrooms "an ideal learning environment." We communicate to the parents that they are invited to stop in, take a sticky note and place it on their shopping list. Parents have been glad to help.

Remember: the more teachers spend, the more we help the system give the illusion they are providing quality education.

Lisa Aldersey
Lisa Aldersey teaches Kindergarten at Johnson Street Public School, Simcoe County District School Board.

Salaries for Tech Teachers

I was very glad to see this issue being raised. However, I don't feel that the article truly exposed the problem to the degree it deserves. The area of salary is the most crucial and received less than two sentences.

Why on earth would anyone who could yield a salary of $60-100,000+ with corporate incentives, expense accounts, vehicle privileges, benefits packages, flexible working hours, vacation time and respect in their profession come to teaching at starting salaries of $30-35,000!

Even with job experience, most boards will only grant four years work experience on the pay grid.
Let's be real. Show them the money and then maybe they would consider it. But that will never happen when school boards are left little money to negotiate teachers salaries.
Let's start to address the real issues instead of candy coating them with pretty pilot projects.

Lori Gagne
Lori Gagne is a Communications Technology teacher at Grimsby Secondary School, District School Board of Niagara.

Tech Situation Even More Dire in North

The shortage of tech teachers in Ontario has been looming for many years and for many reasons. As the repercussions of cutbacks reverberate throughout the education system and our economy, tech teachers scramble to save their programs and their jobs. Cutbacks in schools usually guarantee losses in tech programs.

Further, as the new curriculum enters its final stages of implementation, we begin to realize the impacts on tech programs. There is very little room left in students' timetables for options such as tech, particularly when students are being streamed into college and university. Why would anyone in the technology sector consider coming into an educational system that is in such flux?

The tech situation is even more dire in Northern communities. The reality is that many shop doors in the North are closing because tech teachers don't want to move to a community that cannot guarantee them a full-time position. This situation really challenges the recruitment process in the North.

Jeff Lehman
Jeff Lehman teaches at Atikokan High School in Northwestern Ontario.

"Dirty" Tech Courses Treated as Second Class

Consistently, technological education is now thought to consist of computer-based courses that take place in carpeted facilities with the latest in electronic gadgets at every student's fingertips. The reality is that while almost all Tech courses utilize computerized equipment as a valuable tool, the "dirty" tech courses continue to be treated as second class offerings.

My experience is that in most areas, Technological Education is choking from increasing underfunding. The "other" tech programs are often starved for needed capital and supplies. This does nothing to boost the credibility of these Technological Education programs in our schools.

While society bemoans the lack of highly skilled tradespeople, our Ministry of Education is unwilling to provide the funding we need. The natural consequences of this will unfold in due time, I'm sure.

John Witkowski
John Witkowski teaches Communications Technology, Transportation Technology and Math at
West Hill Secondary School in Owen Sound.

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