September 1997

The College of Teachers is Opening Lines of Communication

Teachers’ professional body is taking the necessary first steps to be an effective advocate on professional issues.

From the Chair


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By Donna Marie Kennedy

A new school year is upon us. As with every new beginning there are new challenges. This year, elementary teachers will have a particular challenge – implementing the new Grades 1 to 8 curriculum.

There is no doubt in my mind that as professionals we will cope with the late announcement, immediate implementation and new expectations. We will do it and we will do it well. We always have.

Registrar Margaret Wilson has suggested that – when the Minister of Education and Training makes a policy announcement – an important job for the College would be to tell the Minister "what it will take to make it work."

When the Minister made his announcement in June, members of the profession were concerned about the availability of appropriate training and support for elementary teachers.

The discussion at our June 20 Council meeting reflected this unease and I outlined the College’s concern in a letter to Mr. Snobelen.

A few weeks later, Margaret Wilson and I met with the Minister to discuss the impact of his decision on the College and our members.

Ministry’s Mandate

We made it clear that the College of Teachers recognizes the Minister’s responsibility to develop curriculum policy; that is his mandate. However, the College must be involved as curriculum is being developed so that we can ensure that we are fulfilling our mandate, particularly in the areas of accreditation and standards of practice.

We have agreed to develop a series of protocols to guide future consultation between the College and the Ministry of Education and Training. The Minister agreed with us that the most important outcome of any consultation would be that when the ministry announces a new policy, there is a strategy in place to ensure that teachers can implement it successfully.

Teacher Qualifications

The Minister has publicly raised the issue that a number of positions in schools that now require teaching qualifications could be opened up to instructors who do not hold teaching certificates. He has asked the Education Improvement Commission (EIC) to provide advice on this issue.

This issue raises some serious concerns for our profession. The College of Teachers is developing standards of practice for teaching in Ontario. The profession is taking on the very serious work of regulating our membership in the public interest.

Parents and the public are now looking to the College to ensure quality in the classroom. They should have a reasonable expectation that individuals who are teaching their children are qualified teachers who meet the requirements for certification and uphold the standards expected of College members.

The Minister has agreed to meetings in early September to discuss with the College the issue of teacher qualifications after the EIC reports and makes recommendations to the ministry.

No Surprise

It is not surprising that the Minister and I also agreed that it is reasonable to expect that the College will not always agree with the policy position of the government, or that he will always agree with us. But it is important that we discuss contentious issues fully and take our positions on the basis of solid information.

It’s also important that the College ensure that the professional needs of teachers are met. We have taken some necessary first steps down that road by establishing a system of two-way communication with the ministry.

But the communication required for the College to be an effective advocate is not just with agencies and ministries. It is vital that we have good effective communication with our members as well. I hope that in the coming months, particularly in this inaugural year, that we hear from you. It is important that we receive your comments, your criticism, and your advice on critical issues.