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 publication style. To be considered for publication, letters must be signed and provide the writer's daytime phone number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at or 121 Bloor Street East, Toronto, ON M4W 3M5.

Who's in and who's out?

Outside stories

I would like to thank Professionally Speaking for the coverage of Degrassi's on-set tutors. I enjoy reading about teachers using their training in non-traditional ways. Both Slator's and Bresnahan's accounts rang true.

I use my BEd in a charitable organization for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities. Teachers using their skills outside regular classrooms are often overlooked. I encourage you to continue to highlight non-traditional educators. We are out here.

Frances Childs teaches adolescents and adults at LiveWorkPlay in Ottawa.

No-fault assignments

I take offense to Doug Wilson's March report that new teachers are “passed over” for occasional assignments. I have heard similar comments from our union leaders in York Region and Toronto. Do I smell collusion?

When principals want competent teachers to maintain continuity of program delivery and to keep the lid on in classrooms, why wouldn't they choose those whose work they know? The supply teacher route, in my experience, is not a training ground for new teachers.

There are many sectors where employees retire with full pension and return as contract workers – without benefits and without penalty.

George Adams is a retired and occasional teacher. His most recent assignment was at Pierre Elliott Trudeau HS in Markham

Retired occasionals

Doug Wilson, in his March column, is right on the mark when he writes that “New teachers also find themselves … competing with retired members.”

According to Toronto DSB, 200 to 500 secondary school teacher absences are filled daily, and over half of the 1,600 teachers on the secondary occasional teachers list are retirees.

Retirees are chosen over others not only on merit, but also due to old loyalties. This is also true for the long-term assignments that could provide valuable classroom experience.

Most retirees enjoy pensions of close to $50,000 a year and top up their incomes with these assignments. Other substitute teachers subsist on less than $30,000 a year. This is worse than an “anomaly.” It's a policy that cries out for change.

Barry Weisleder was president of Toronto Substitute Teachers from 1984 to 2002.

Turnover noticed?

Regarding Doug Wilson's March report: Of the 70,000 teachers who have joined the College since May 1997, how many are still teaching? How many have quit the profession?

In the same issue a letter (Mentors, page 12) refers to the startling number leaving within their first five years. Are there no ripples?

Increasingly needy children enter our schools while resources, including time, steadily decline.

Don Blais teaches in the Kindergarten programs at Wedgewood Junior School in the Toronto DSB.

Provisional certificates

I am writing regarding the Ministry's decision to issue provisional certificates to this year's graduates.

There is no indication of what we will need to do to become fully certified. Since I do not plan to teach full time in 2005–06, this is of particular concern. Please urge the Minister to pass an interim regulation stating that testing completed at teachers' colleges around the province is equivalent to the qualifying test and to issue 2004–05 candidates full certification.

Kerri-Ann Down completed the BEd program at Nipissing University this spring.

Issues please

Frankly, this magazine is of little interest to me or anyone I know.

While findings around males in the profession were good and the occasional review is of interest, I would like to see articles that deal with the profession's realities, including critical articles.

The fact that underfunding or high turnover rates are never mentioned makes the article Teaching Degrassi all the more preposterous. Practical classroom advice would be of interest; meanwhile, the article on assessment comes across as propaganda: If teachers only knew what was best, they would embrace the innovations we've decided best suit them!

Jeremy Murray teaches English at East York Collegiate Institute in the Toronto DSB.


In the March 2005 issue (PS News, page 15), we identified Lise St-Éloi as director of education for the Conseil catholique Centre-Est. She is in fact a supervisory officer; Lise Bourgeois is director of education at that school board. We apologize for any confusion caused by this error.