Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and to conform to our publication style. To be considered for publication, letters must provide the writer's daytime phone number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at or 121 Bloor Street East, Toronto, ON M4W 3M5.

Transitions, thresholds and solutions

Job scarcity

I read with great interest your article, Transition to Teaching (December 2007). My husband, daughter and I moved from Mississauga to Ottawa in August 2006. My husband, who taught full time in Peel for four years, has been supply teaching in Ottawa due to the extreme scarcity of jobs.

My interest, however, quickly changed to disappointment when I realized the article was merely reporting on the problem, not articulating solutions (or even ideas) on how to alleviate it.

Who is responsible for assisting with this? Is it the College, the governing body of your profession? Is it the unions, with collective bargaining demands?

I think that some answers may lie in temporarily restricting the number of new graduates. Why are we setting up these new grads for failure in the job market? Also, if retirees supply teaching and taking contract assignments is limiting opportunities for those trying to enter the profession, can you not look at this practice?

There are many people like us who cannot go down this path of employment instability and reduced finances much longer.

Andrea Martin works in human resources in Ottawa; her husband is currently an occasional teacher with the Ottawa Carleton DSB.

Professional limits

As an educator who has taught both in pre-College times and under the current regime, I must say that I am thoroughly appalled by your mandate to deal with issues that clearly should not be within your purview.

The Governing Ourselves section (December 2007), Investigations, Dispute Resolution and Hearings, correctly deals with issues of gross misconduct, gross incompetence and criminal behaviour. However, one case – a teacher placing elastics around a student’s ankles to help hold up the child’s socks – and others of similar magnitude in previous editions – should never be part of your mandate. Applying this extremely low threshold, I would expect that more than half of the teachers I have associated with would be before you, defending their actions and having their lives turned upside down.

The College clearly needs to adjust the benchmark for what qualifies as an issue that it should address.

Teaching is a lifelong and honourable commitment made, in the majority, by dedicated people who will never need to be disciplined at the College. Please do not create a Workplace of Fear, where teachers must constantly second-guess all of their actions.

Brad M. Ryan teaches computer and mathematics at Brebeuf College School in the Toronto Catholic DSB.

Supplying demand

The complaint from the primary-junior teacher in northeast Ontario (Transition to Teaching, December 2007) that “Many supply positions are filled with retired teachers” strikes a chord with me.

For two years (2001–03), I worked as an occasional for a total of four school boards in eastern Ontario. Each morning, I would rise at 6 a.m., dress and wait, lunch in hand, for the dispatch to call with an assignment. I filled every vacancy that I was asked to fill.

Time and time again, I noticed retired teachers supply teaching – often at the school from which they had retired. They had the plum assignments (well-behaved classes) while journeymen supply teachers would be placed in the more challenging classes. I listened in the lunchroom as teachers passed on supply days to their retired friends.

If teaching jobs were aplenty, this practice of fortifying pensions with the odd teaching day would be quite commendable. However, this is not the case and it would be noble if our retired brethren took this into account.

Bill Saunders was an occasional and LTO teacher for school boards in the Ottawa, Kemptville and Brockville regions and now works for the English Montréal School Board.

Across the sea

Just finished your story, Emerging employment crisis for English-language teachers (Transition to Teaching, December 2007).

As the parent of a teacher who left for England to find employment, I am totally discouraged that my son will ever be able to return to Canada. I was disheartened to see that you offered no solution to this issue.

May I suggest that for a period of years you only license 66 per cent of graduates.

This might give pause to some who are thinking of a teaching career and allow past graduates a chance of finding full-time positions.

Richard Cameron lives in Bridgewater, NS; his son has been licensed to teach in Ontario since 2004.

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