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June 1999

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Premier’s Charter Announcement
Takes College of Teachers by Surprise

The announcement that "teachers will be required to take and pass regular re-certification examination" had not been discussed with the profession.

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By Donna Marie Kennedy

Premier Mike Harris announced in April his government’s intention to institute a Charter of Education Rights and Responsibilities for students, teachers and parents. I can assure you that this announcement came as a complete surprise to the College of Teachers.

What was particularly surprising was the Premier’s announcement that every teacher in the province undergo mandatory re-certification every three to five years. Neither the College, nor Council, had been consulted on this proposal.

The College had only been told to expect a major announcement about education. We had hoped this would be an announcement that the government would, as the College had requested, fund 2,000 more spaces in Ontario’s faculties of education to help deal with the serious shortage of qualified teachers in this province. You can read more about the College proposal and initiatives that other jurisdictions are taking to recruit and train teachers in this issue’s cover story.

In his announcement, the Premier said the government does intend to consult with the College on the charter. Since the College’s inception two years ago, teachers’ self-regulating body has made consultation with both its members and the public a high priority.

In fact, the College’s Standards of Practice and Education Committee is currently consulting with teachers and groups across Ontario on a draft professional learning framework for the teaching profession. This framework – developed through careful research and thorough consultation – will
provide teachers and the public with a clear understanding of the ongoing professional learning that is expected of teachers.


Last year, the College took a major step forward with the approval in principle of the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession. This document, developed together by teachers and members of the public, gives us a very useful tool to articulate what it means to be a teacher. The professional learning framework would support the standards of practice and provide positive direction to College members for their own learning and professional growth.

The Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession were based on national and international research and almost two years of wide-ranging consultation with members of the College, the public and a broad range of community and interest groups.

The College contacted hundreds of educational organizations, employers and universities, and received responses from all over the world, including Scotland, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, New Zealand and the United States. We identified the common themes, developed the standards around these themes and adapted them to Ontario’s education system.

The development of the standards of practice is an important milestone for teachers in Ontario. It is a logical, positive step that builds on our profession’s achievement of self-regulating status and underlines our public accountability by explaining the complexities of our work.


The College is working with stakeholders in education to recognize teachers’ professional commitment. This is vital at a time when Ontario faces real shortages of qualified teachers and teachers who are willing to assume leadership roles in our schools.

The College’s recent groundbreaking study on teacher supply and demand drew public attention to the looming shortage of qualified teachers. The first result of the media attention was renewed interest by young people in the teaching profession, reflected by a sharp increase in applications to faculties of education, particularly in the areas the College identified as critical. But this alone will not meet the need.

The College’s study also led to the establishment of the Minister’s Task Force on Teacher Recruitment and Renewal. Officials from the Ministry of Education and Training, the College, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, directors of education, the faculties and principals’ groups are studying ways to attract new teachers and encourage current teachers to stay in the profession.