Working teachers critical to development of regulations

Teachers who are working, elected members of Council have a far greater influence in shaping the profession than most of their colleagues across Ontario know. Take the creation or revision of teacher education regulations, for example.

by Don Cattani

Long before a regulation passes into law, your Council has been involved in its development – writing, rewriting, aligning and recommending language that affects teaching in the province immediately.

In the past few years, we have dealt with regulatory change concerning Additional Qualifications (AQs), professional misconduct, public interest expectations and College elections. Right now, the College is developing dozens of new AQs based on a two-year study of teacher qualifications in Regulation 184 and the classroom needs of today’s teachers.

Developing new regulations represents some of our most challenging work as councillors. Creating or changing a regulation is collaborative and complex. It’s a task often measured in months, and the outcome can last for years.

The stimulus for regulatory change sometimes comes from the government but usually from Council or one of its committees. Once the Minister of Education has reviewed the initiative, legislative counsel develops a first draft. Ministry staff then meets with the Chair of Council, the Registrar and College staff to develop the final wording of the regulation.

Once College Council approves the new regulation, the Chair of Council and the Registrar sign what is called the black-cornered copy – the official version – as does the Minister of Education. As soon as Cabinet gives final approval to the regulation, it is filed and gazetted. At that point, it is considered law in Ontario.

“Creating or changing a regulation is collaborative and complex.”

In March, a small but significant regulatory change became law. Thanks to a concern identified by our Discipline Committee, the College sought to amend language in the professional misconduct regulation that had lumped all forms of alleged student abuse into one allegation. Before the change, any member who was accused of abusing a student faced a published allegation identifying five different kinds of abuse – physical, sexual, verbal, psychological or emotional – even if the particulars of the case referred to only one.

Not any more.

Now, the regulation separates the forms of abuse. Clarity replaces confusion. There’s little chance now of the media reporting inaccurate or maligning information, of ruining reputations or of misleading the public. The regulatory change resulted in transparency. Everyone – members and the public alike – benefits.

As Council Chair and as a member elected by his teacher peers, I participated in all discussions regarding the proposed change.

We have developed regulatory changes outlining innovative programming for Aboriginal and deaf education, which are now law. We are also working with the Ministry to develop amendments to define technological education qualifications and establish new courses.

By September 2009, we hope to introduce, among others, new AQs in kindergarten and Teaching and Learning through e-Learning. One of the prerequisites, written into regulation, is that only qualified, certified teachers will be able to take them.

“When we work together, regulations that no longer make sense can also be changed.”

Council’s role in influencing necessary regulatory change is a responsibility we take seriously. We have seen what the ability to impose new regulations can do in the wrong hands. As examples, consider the pencil-and-paper qualifying test that once existed as an entry mechanism to the teaching profession and the Professional Learning Program.

Governments change. So can Council. When we work together, regulations that no longer make sense can also be changed.

Your Council will continue to be a vigilant and, where necessary, vocal participant in the debate on proposed regulatory changes – those we can support as well as those we cannot.

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