Professionally SpeakingThe Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers
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From the Chair

Letters to the Editor

PS News




Governing Ourselves


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 provide the writer's daytime phone number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at or 121 Bloor Street East, Toronto, ON  M4W 3M5.

Participation, representation and other ideals

Participatory democracy

Your cover story, The Courage to Teach in Afghanistan, combined with the report on Council election results (December 2006) made for an interesting juxtaposition.

It would appear that 204,592 eligible College voters also struggle with democracy. With only 5.54 per cent of members voting, the College falls into the company of third-world dictatorships in terms of democratic participation by its members and citizens.

Why such low participation? Voting was available via a secure Internet connection. What Ontario teacher doesn't own a home computer or have access to one?

Robert Maynard Hutchins remarked, “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference and undernourishment.”

It's time the College demonstrated decisive and direct leadership to make it relevant and meaningful in the professional lives of its members.

G. Robin Cooke taught at Delhi District SS in the Grand Erie DSB until 2006.

Visual representation

My frustration with Professionally Speaking grows with each issue. Teachers of the GTA and environs continue to receive an unreasonable amount of attention and voice.

Ontario teachers offer diversity, variety and regionality. You need only look beyond your doorstep to educators who deserve to be present in each of your issues. It is a matter of creating a standard of care, respect, trust and integrity between the magazine of the College and all of Ontario's teachers. Advertising income of over $1 million points to the success of the magazine but should also direct you to balance the revenue with the need to offer balanced representation.

Educators try to allow students and their families to have voice in the classroom, partially by giving all students a chance to see themselves in the surroundings and materials of the school and classroom.

Richard Simpson teaches Grade 6 at Leslie Park Public School in the Ottawa-Carleton DSB.

Give them a chance

In the Transition to Teaching report (December 2006), we read again of the difficulties of new teachers. For many long-term replacement positions, principals hire retired teachers. This is often a whom-you-know situation – teachers returning to the school from which they retired.

Such positions should be made available, first, to new teachers. They will learn and benefit from the knowledge of those around them. Retired teachers can work if they want, but they should be the last people considered for long-term positions.

Give the new graduates an opportunity to teach.

Carol Nelson retired in 2005 from the Toronto DSB. She taught students with developmental disabilities in Scarborough for 27 years.

Spelling shame

The surname of our first prime minister is spelled Macdonald, not MacDonald, as it appears at the end of the The Kids Book of Canadian Prime Ministers review (December 2006).

This widespread misspelling for poor old John A.'s name has become a pet peeve of mine. It's especially frustrating to find it in our professional publication.

Michael Anderson is retired as principal from St. Patrick Elementary School in the London Catholic DSB.

Standard practice

How ironic! The article, Living the Standards, which praises and celebrates the revised ethical and practical standards for the profession, is immediately followed by the article about the stressful challenges that teachers, especially new ones, face to practise their chosen profession.

Is it ethical to recruit university graduates for teacher training programs when there are so few decent jobs available?

Is it fair to mislead foreign-trained and qualified teachers into believing that there will be meaningful work for them? Honesty, respect, integrity? Not in my estimation.

Are school boards and administrators demonstrating professional standards by treating new teachers so shabbily? We would never move a student from class to class or from school to school on a daily basis and expect him to be ready to produce good work and learn effectively.

College members are expected to be committed to students and promote collaborative, safe and supportive learning environments. Should teachers not expect the same?

Louise Elkin retired in 2004 from the Toronto DSB, where she was an elementary music specialist and classroom teacher.