College Council is advising that the Minister of Education increase the size of Council and the number of member-elected positions.
College Council, in its report - Governance: Advice to the Minister of Education - also recommends an increase in the number of French-speaking representatives. Changes to the composition of Council would require changes to the Ontario College of Teachers Act and its regulations.
The advice addresses seven issues raised in the Minister's white paper, Revitalizing the Ontario College of Teachers, which was released in March. These include input into the number and type of elected and appointed members to Council, the role of candidate slates in the electoral process and ideas to ensure the independence and depoliticization of the College. Council struck an ad hoc committee to prepare an official response to the Minister.
The final report recommends
The committee heard from College members as well as stakeholder, regulatory and community groups during stops in Windsor, London, Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury and Thunder Bay.
The ad hoc committee accepted written submissions from those unable to make presentations, considered the opinions of 1,000 College members who were surveyed by telephone in July by the public-opinion research firm COMPAS Inc. and appreciated the input provided by attendees at a series of nine focus groups that COMPAS conducted in three Ontario cities.
Council Vice-chair Nancy Hutcheson, who chaired the ad hoc committee, said the committee's recommendations to Council considered all stakeholders' proposals and were not unduly influenced by the requests of any one.
"You have in front of you the long labour of the committee you created in response to the Minister's paper, Revitalizing the Ontario College of Teachers, and that you charged with consulting with College members, education partners and the public, researching the governance issue and preparing a response. Not an easy task," Hutcheson told Council.
Hutcheson said committee members approached the assignment with "open minds and open ears." The committee, she said, considered the Royal Commission on Learning report, which recommended the formation of the College, and heard opinions from Council members and education stakeholders across Ontario in surveys, focus groups and face-to-face consultations.
Committee members had to sift through "diverse and passionately held" opinions in order to arrive at recommendations to improve self-regulation in the teaching profession, Hutcheson said.
In its final report, Council recommended an expanded council "to ensure a majority of professional educators."
Council suggested increasing regional positions to 10 (from six) and providing three positions for principal/vice-principal representatives - one each from the English public system, the English Catholic system and the French public/Catholic systems. Council also proposed a reduction in the number of government-appointed members by four to offset the increase in elected members, keep the size of Council manageable and ensure an equitable workload among Council members.
"The committee based these recommendations and its report on the knowledge and experience gained over the course of our consultations," Hutcheson said. "Committee members understood this report to be an opportunity to provide our best advice to the Minister and to demonstrate the potential strength of a self-regulatory body in which all councillors work together for the betterment of the profession."
Several Council members argued that the proposed increase in principal positions was disproportionate to the number of Ontario's principals and vice-principals. Hutcheson said the recommended model was never intended to meet representation-by-population requests. For example, faculty of education members number fewer than 200, she said, yet including that voice is important to Council.
The final report to the Minister acknowledges perceptions that the College is not an independent, self-regulating body and notes that the election of members makes it a politicized institution. Council referred concerns about elections and increasing voter turnout to the Council Election Committee.
State of the Teaching Profession Survey results
Methodology: The College commissioned COMPAS Inc. - a public-opinion and customer-research firm - to conduct a representative sample survey via telephone of more than 1,000 teachers during July 2004. The results are deemed accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Rounding: Due to rounding rules concerning survey results, percentages for some questions may not add up to 100 per cent.
Questions: Wording presented below has been modified for brevity. For complete questions and results, please visit www.compas.ca.
Nature of representation
To what extent should each of the following be represented on the College Council?
|.elected by all members?||43|
|.elected by their respective members?||34|
|.appointed on the recommendation of their associations?||17|
|Don't know / refused||7|
|strongly favour||strongly oppose|
|elected officials of a local federation or association||3.3||16||23||33||7||10||11|
|employees of local federation or association||3.2||15||19||34||10||11||11|
|elected officials of a provincial federation or association||3.1||13||16||35||13||12||11|
|employees of a provincial federation or association||3.0||12||16||35||14||13||11|
|College employees (currently ineligible)||2.5||7||9||30||16||26||12|