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.
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."
Minister made his announcement in June, members of
the profession were concerned about the availability
of appropriate training and support for elementary
at our June 20 Council meeting reflected this unease
and I outlined the Colleges 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
We made it
clear that the College of Teachers recognizes the
Ministers 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.