The College is reluctantly preparing to
implement a lower standard of language proficiency for new teachers in the province than
it had originally recommended. The lower standard is being set out in regulation by
Education Minister Janet Ecker as part of the governments teacher testing program.
Council Chair Donna Marie Kennedy said
that the governments amendment to the Colleges proposed regulation
"provides the public with little assurance that this requirement the first
plank of the governments teacher testing platform will in fact contribute to
the certification of individuals who meet the standards that we all desire for Ontario
The College had proposed, in June 1999,
that all applicants to the College who have not done both their postsecondary studies and
their teacher training in English or French would have to pass a language proficiency
A year later, Education Minister Janet
Ecker responded, informing the College that language proficiency tests would be required
only of applicants from outside Ontario and only those who have not taken their teacher
training in English or French.
The College Council voted unanimously
at its June 9 meeting to request the Minister to reconsider.
NO GUARANTEE OF
In replying to the Ministers
decision, College Chair Donna Marie Kennedy said that the governments amendment
would "seriously undermine the Colleges ability to guarantee to Ontario
students and their parents that the new teachers we certify will have enough command of
English or French to communicate effectively in the classroom and meet the standards of
practice for the teaching profession."
"The teaching profession believes
strongly that it is in the public interest to implement a language proficiency requirement
that would ensure that at the very least teachers will have a mastery in
English or French of their subject matter," Kennedy wrote.
"For that reason, we believe that
it is essential that applicants for certification successfully pass language tests unless
they have completed both their undergraduate degree (BA, BSc, etc.) and their teacher
education program (BEd) in English or French. For tech teachers, we believe applicants
should be required to complete both their technological qualifications and their teacher
training in English or French, or provide proof that they are sufficiently proficient in
one of our languages of instruction to be effective teachers."
Kennedy also said Eckers language
competence requirement "will fall well short of the expectations of the broad range
of stakeholders the College consulted on this issue."
"Your proposal would result in a
lower expectation of language proficiency for teachers in Ontario than the requirements
for nurses or pharmacists
," Kennedy noted.
The projected change means that
applicants educated and trained in Russian or Mandarin could emigrate to Ontario and upon
successful completion of an eight-month program at a faculty of education, be licensed to
teach in Ontario whether they could communicate effectively with students or not, wrote
"The teaching profession in
Ontario is very conscious that the communication skills required to be a successful
teacher are of a considerably higher order than those required to be a successful student
even at a faculty of education."
Kennedy also reminded the Minister that
the Colleges Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession, which the
Minister has praised in the past, requires teachers to have well-developed communication
skills. The standards set out the expectations that teachers will be able to
"demonstrate ways to make knowledge and skills accessible to others, communicate and
collaborate with parents and others in the education of students, communicate clear,
challenging and achievable expectations for students, and report and provide ongoing
feedback of individual achievement to students and parents," said Kennedy.
For these reasons, the College Council
is "firmly opposed" to the governments proposed change, said the College
In a reply dated June 20, Minister
Ecker re-stated her intention of limiting the requirement for proof of language competence
to those applicants from outside Ontario who have not taken their teacher education in
English or French.
Recently, the College recommended
approximately 20 amendments to Regulation 184/97, Teachers Qualifications to bring
it in line with new Ministry of Education policy and ministry-mandated changes to the
In her letter of June 20, the Minister
stated that a review of all the proposed amendments to the regulation "will be done
in the context of the governments overall teacher testing program."
Although the language proficiency
amendment was listed in the most recent submission to government, it was originally sent
to the ministry in June 1999 in the hopes of getting it implemented for December 1999.
GOVERNMENT CAN OVERRULE COLLEGE
The Ontario College of Teachers was
established in 1997 to allow teachers to regulate their own profession.
The Ontario College of Teachers Act
states that in carrying out its responsibilities the College has a duty to "to serve
and protect the public interest."
Section 40 of the Act sets out the
Colleges authority to make regulations with respect to "requirements, including
but not limited to standards, qualifications, examinations and experience requirements,
for the issuance of certificates of qualification and registration and providing for
exemptions from those requirements."
However, the Section 12 (1) (c) of the
Act also stipulates that the Minister may "require the Council to make, amend or
revoke a regulation."
"If the Minister requires a
Council to do anything under subsection (1), the Council shall, within the time and in the
manner specified by the Minister, comply with the requirement and submit a report to the
Minister respecting the compliance.
"If the Minister requires the
Council to make, amend or revoke a regulation under clause (1) (c) and the Council does
not do so within 60 days, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by regulation, make,
amend or revoke the regulation."
The 60-day period by which the College
was required to act according to the Ministers instructions ended on August 5.
This is the second time that the
government has overruled the College on a proposed regulation. The College election is
being conducted under different rules than the ones proposed in the regulation the College
Council sent to the government for approval. In that case, Council also declined to modify
the proposed regulation during the 60-day period the Act requires before the government
can move to amend or create a different regulation than one approved by Council.
Communication between teacher and
students must cover a range of language skills writing, speaking, comprehending
that can clearly convey sometimes difficult or complex concepts in all subjects.