Teachers Are Doing Great Work
on the College Council

With 183,000 College members, it’s hardly surprising that some don’t agree with every decision the Council makes. But this doesn’t mean that the teachers elected to the Council don’t represent the best interests of the profession as well as the public interest.

By Joe Atkinson

I keep running into people who insist that the College Council is entirely made up of public appointees, none of
them teachers, or who acknowledge that there are teachers on the Council but insist that these elected members don’t represent practising teachers.

That argument was made once again at the annual meeting of members on June 8 by a member in the audience who charged that teachers on the Council don’t represent the people who elected them, particularly with respect to the Professional Learning Program.

Such a statement does not give credit for the hard work and commitment of the many certified teachers who make up the majority of Council members. A few of them felt compelled to respond once again to some of the criticisms.

Doug Carter is a retired elementary teacher who continues to teach occasionally and remains active in his federation. He was elected to Council from the southeast region of the province. He reminded the annual meeting that the teacher federations made a decision when the College was created that there should be members on Council to ensure that teachers would be heard.

“We put forward the viewpoints of teachers,” Doug said. “Do they carry the day every time? No. Nor do anybody else’s. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to speak and reflect the views of those people I have encountered in my more than 37 years of teaching. How would it be better if some members were not present at all?” he asked.

Experienced, Knowledgeable Karl Dean has been a secondary school teacher for the last 18 years, has also been an active member of his federation and is an elected member who sits on the Investigation Committee of the Council. He reminded the members in the audience that it was important to have experienced, knowledgeable teachers serving on various committees, particularly when it comes to looking at complaints and how to deal with them appropriately.

College Council’s vice-chair Marilyn Laframboise, a classroom teacher who represents French-language Roman Catholic elementary school members, spoke of her experience with the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants francoontariens.

“There was never one question that I had to deal with as a local president that garnered 100 per cent agreement among my members,” she said.

Of course, the Council does represent the teaching profession in Ontario, and in terms of numbers, more so than the legislation calls for.

22 Out of 31
The College Council has 17 members who are College members elected by fellow members. Of the other 14 appointed members of Council, five are also College members in good standing, so 22 of 31 Council members are certi- fied teachers.

The argument that elected teachers don’t represent practising teachers seems based on the belief that only people who agree with you on every issue can properly represent your profession. That is an impossible argument to sustain, of course.

There is rarely unanimous agreement on any issue, even in a small group. Within the College, with a membership of 183,000 certified teachers who reflect the great diversity of this province’s population, the organization derives its strength from the different viewpoints, different ways of looking at the same information and the different conclusions that people draw.

Diversity of opinion within our membership and within the Council ensures that all objections are raised, all options are weighed and important concerns are addressed. The fact that Council members differ on issues like the Professional Learning Program ensures intense discussion and informed decision-making.

And for those who feel their particular point of view needs to be heard in the governing body of the teaching profession, we’ll be issuing the call for nominations for the next Council election later this year. I encourage you to consider putting your name forward.

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