Proposed changes dramatically alter governance
In one of his last acts as Education Minister, Gerard Kennedy proposed sweeping changes to College governance and the election process for a new Council.
Bill 78, an act to amend the Education Act, the Ontario College of Teachers Act and other education-related statutes, provides for increase the number of Council members to 37 from 31 (23 elected, 14 appointed) and require each Council member to sign an oath of office.
As well, the legislation would formally replace the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test with a mandatory New Teacher Induction Program of support for newly certified and permanent full- and part-time teachers in publicly funded schools.
In a letter to Council Chair Marilyn Laframboise, Ontario's Minister of Education asked the College to prepare regulation amendments to enable it to proceed with its 2006 fall election. He told the Chair that if the College did not produce a regulation meeting his requirements within 60 days, the government would invoke its power to make the regulation unilaterally.
Anticipating early acceptance of the legislation, the Minister asked the College to make a priority of removing the provisional requirements for certification for new teachers.
Kennedy required that regulation amendments:
To “strengthen the fairness and transparency of the nominations and elections process,” Kennedy required the College Registrar to set a pre-election communications plan with a pre- and post-nomination phase.
During the pre-nomination phase the College will provide members with specific information:
The pre-nomination phase is also to provide potential candidates with an opportunity to tour the College.
When the nominations phase is over, the minister wants the College to publish and disseminate candidate information to all members. This will include candidates' attestations, biographical statements and relevant information from their nomination forms.
The College is also to create a standardized communications and advertising plan for the election. This plan will provide for a dedicated elections phone line to support candidates with information during the election as well as a variety of means and at least three opportunities for candidates to provide information and communicate with members.
Candidates' statements of attestation must report whether they belong to a teacher union or association and include a declaration that they will resign from any elected or appointed position they hold within that organization before taking a seat on Council, if they are elected.
The Minister also wants candidates to acknowledge in writing that, if elected, they will not take direction from teacher federations or other teacher advocacy organizations.
Nomination forms will include a candidate's:
The Minister said he wants the regulations to stipulate that no College member can be elected to Council while they are an employee or elected or appointed official of any of the following:
Elected Council members must agree to perform their duties impartially “to the best of their skill and judgment without taking direction from any of the above noted organizations,” the Minister's letter to the Council Chair says.
After the election, those elected must report in writing to the Registrar the amounts and sources of all election contributions.
Members who do not meet the new criteria will be disqualified from serving on College Council.
As this issue goes to press Bill 78 is still in front of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and is subject to change. If the bill is not approved by the legislature by June 1st, Council election information may change significantly.
Regulations required to conduct the election are also still under discussion between the College and the Ministry of Education and so are also subject to change.
For up-to-date information, refer to www.oct.ca and look for the logo.