May 1997


Council Orientation


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Father Figure of Teacher Education Advises Council "Focus on the Licence to Teach"

Frank Clifford came out of retirement to chair the committee that developed the blueprint for the Ontario College of Teachers. He had valuable advice for Governing Council members at their orientation session.

What other professions said

By Philip Carter

One of Ontario’s most respected educators told the Governing Council they’ll get the Ontario College of Teachers launched on the right track if they focus on the licence to teach.

Frank Clifford is described by College Registrar Margaret Wilson as "the father figure of teacher education in Ontario." He has taught in both the public and separate systems, and was principal of the Peterborough Teachers College, director of education for the Waterloo separate board and an Assistant Deputy Minister of Education, as well as executive director of the Teacher Education Council of Ontario.

He came out of retirement to chair the College of Teachers Implementation Committee, which produced the report - The Privilege of Professionalism - that the legislation and regulations establishing the College were based on.
Frank Clifford

Clifford spoke to the members of the Governing Council about their mandate as the leaders of the new College when they met in mid-March for an orientation session.

"The report and your legislative mandate focuses on four aspects of the licence: one, how do you acquire the licence; two, how do you maintain the licence; three, how can you lose the licence, and four, keeping up-to-date statistical records regarding those who do hold the licence."

"The Act provides the College with the authority to determine the qualifications required for entry into the teaching profession in Ontario.

"Mr. Justice McRuer, who was chair of the Ontario Royal Commission on Civil Rights in 1968, stated in his report, 'Responsible and experienced members of a profession or occupation on whom the power of self-government is conferred are in the best position to set standards and to meet the qualifications required to enter the profession or occupation’."

The retired educator told the Council "you would almost have to be my age" to remember how teachers used to go "hat in hand" to ask government for the right to set standards of entry into the profession.

He reminded the members that "one of the powers of you people sitting around this horseshoe will be to accredit ongoing education programs for teachers offered by post-secondary institutions and other bodies.

"I personally believe that much of the current professional development that is done by teachers in this province goes unrecognized and unreported, and I think it’s time for that to change. And I think you have - in the mandate that I have just spoken to you about - the opportunity to do that."

Exposing the silent majority

"I believe that tracking life-long learning, career-long learning, will expose the silent majority that is out there now and show how many professionals are already engaged in regular in-service training. And with the substantial public representation on a body like this, I think you are mandated to go one step further and - having found that out - to let the world know about it.

"Tracking mandatory career-long learning will also force some professionals to stay up-to-date. It also will let the profession ensure - and it will be your job to do it - that the profession has time to prepare the professional requirements before some other government comes down with another layer of mandates that are to be done next week."

He asked the Governing Council to make sure that the College takes a fresh look at additional qualifications (AQ) courses. "I’ve never understood why there had to be a broker in the middle between the teacher who comes for improvement in qualifications and the teacher colleague who stands up and gives the course.

"Why did we have to go through a post-secondary institution? Why did we need middle people? And I think I’m right that the majority of - or many of the AQ courses, at least - are being given by your colleagues around this province.

"For heaven’s sake, use the opportunity that this legislation gives you to create a whole new look at the delivery agents in groups and organizations and people who come forward."


Other Professions Tell Teachers "Learn From Our Experience"

By Brad Ross

When society loses confidence or pride in a profession, you can huff and puff as much as you want, the public will still not give you the esteem and respect which is your due."

This sober warning came from Hope Sealy, a public appointee to the Law Society of Upper Canada - the legal profession’s self-regulating body - as Council members met in an orientation session to prepare to start governing the College of Teachers.

Representatives of doctors, nurses, social workers and the legal profession - all veterans of the self-regulatory process - urged teachers to learn from their experience, both good and bad.

Shannon McCorquodale, Registrar of the Ontario College of Certified Social Workers, said her members have been working for 15 years to win the legislated status teachers now enjoy.

"I would like to share a conviction that would be echoed by every member of our council of the College of Social Work. And that is that regulation has far more to do with enabling the increase of standards of professional practice through consultation and support to the professionals involved and the reinforcement of learning objectives throughout the life of the professional than it has to do with the disciplinary process, which is so often perceived as the dominant element."

She outlined two core principles of professional self-government. "First, there’s the maintenance of the supremacy of the public interest and, secondly, that the public is assured that all members of the profession meet common standards.

"We develop our standards over time and it doesn’t stop," said McCorquodale. "As the regulatory body gathers experience and the profession itself identifies areas which need expansion or further clarity, we revise standards, we clarify."

Cheri Vigar, President of the Ontario College of Nurses, told Council members that promoting ongoing competence in the quality of the profession is a vital function for the college.

"It’s one thing to have come into the profession 25 years ago as a nurse at a competent beginner’s level, it’s another thing after 25 years to be able to say to you I can assure you that my competence has continued to grow with the needs of my profession."

The public’s interest in professional development - maintaining high competency levels - is key to ongoing credibility and accountability with the outside world. And it’s something her colleagues have "no problem" with, she said.

Credibility and accountability, according to Dr. Ted Boadway from the Ontario Medical Association, can take on another dimension as well. "As a profession, we bungled the management of sex abuse quite badly and paid a very significant price," he said. "There’s no reason why you should pay the same price that we paid."

Boadway reminded Council members that he was speaking as an association representative and member of a self-regulating profession - not as a representative of his college. But he cautioned them that, "Complaints management and discipline procedure is very bruising. It’s a tough business to be in."

He urged the College to be proactive in confronting major discipline issues like substance abuse and sex abuse. "You will have a systemized way of handling this - you will do it either proactively or you will do it any way, and the 'any way’ is a tough way to get there."

College Registrar Margaret Wilson told Council members that the Ontario College of Teachers can already point to some practical benefits from looking at the experience of other professions.

Teachers won’t have to go through the discipline process because of nuisance complaints, she said. "As our legislation was being drafted, we did seek advice from the social workers, the nurses and the doctors, and we do not have to deal with frivolous or vexatious complaints. Thank you for that advice."