Minister clarifies role of College
- to serve public and professional interests
"It's important that there be a College of Teachers and that people serve selflessly to promote the public interest, says Ontario's Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy.
In June, during the Minister's annual address to College Council, Kennedy affirmed education as his government's priority and explained the role he perceived for the College within the sector.
The College was established through provincial legislation, with the agreement of all political parties that teachers were respected as professionals who had the ability to self-regulate, he said.
"We really do think there is an important identity for teachers as professionals," said Kennedy. "We think it's important that they understand, support and have respect for the body that oversees issues of discipline and professionalism.
"The College though - I want to be very clear - exists for one reason," Kennedy said. "It's not for teacher interest. It can't be. It is a delegation of authority and responsibility from the government for the public interest. Only a select number of professions are capable of sustaining that."
The education system we have may not be good enough for the times that we have, he said. More must be done to challenge students so they don't fall behind or fail to realize their potential. He called unacceptable an estimate that 48,000 students out of the double-cohort year would not earn their high school diplomas.
"We need to endow this generation with an education advantage," he said. "We see ourselves articulating that, working with teachers, working with the entire education sector."
He noted his government's actions to support public education - directing more than one billion new dollars towards the sector since being elected last October.
He also said it was his government's role to help change the perception of the College by "neutralizing" some of the discontent about its value and purpose. Using his Education Partnership Table as a sounding board, the Minister has asked parents, students, principals, education directors, teachers and support staff from across the system for advice about "depoliticizing" the College. He said he expected considerable feedback by this fall and he also welcomed input from the College itself.
"As individuals or as a collective, give us your best advice on how the College can re-optimize," he told Council members.
Kennedy said that as long as the government is satisfied that the College conducts itself in the public interest, "we are never going to interfere with the operations of this body. We will not overrule the decisions of the College."
The Minister also promised that the government would soon replace five vacant public appointee positions on Council.
"We are not going to pick partisans that support the government of the day. Nor are we picking people that represent discernibly any kind of caucus. There will be people who care about education, who are supportive of teachers and who understand the public interest when it comes to making sure that teachers are regulated fairly."
The College is not a trade-off place, Kennedy said. Its commitment is to the public.
He said he wants to move away from federation slates and caucuses.
"There should not be direct involvement by self-interest groups in the election of the College," he said. "We have asked for that and we have had some interesting discussions with the teacher federations.
"If someone is a leader in a teacher federation, they are by definition someone who is looking after the interest of teachers and their particular organizations. That's their job. You around this table have a slightly different job. You hold teaching to the highest standard possible."
When asked what having a majority of classroom teachers on Council meant, Kennedy said, "People who are elected by people in the classroom. If we're afraid to have the College of Teachers run by teachers, then why would we have it?"
MEN IN TEACHING: UPDATE
Research initiative continues
The first leg of the Men in Teaching research journey is complete. What's clear from consultations with students, teachers and school administrators is that more male teachers are needed. What is not as clear is how to attract them.
Focus groups in English and French were held in April and May throughout the province to seek causes of and solutions to the declining number of men in teaching. Currently, one third of Ontario's teachers are male. Among men under 30 who are entering the profession, only one in ten is teaching at the primary level.
This joint project will next gather the thoughts of education directors, deans and faculty members and federation representatives. The project partners - Trillium Lakelands District School Board, Laurentian University's English-language School of Education, Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest and the Ontario College of Teachers - expect to forward a report with recommendations to the Minister of Education later this fall.
Students said they want interesting, challenging and well paying careers. They recognize the altruism in teaching and believe it contributes to society. They're less sure of the personal rewards. They question teaching's status; they think it's a "nurturing" role, more suited to women. Students also think teacher wages are lacking.
Teachers see the need for more of a gender balance, particularly at the primary level.
Teachers had concerns about the loss of respect for the profession and low starting salaries. They also worried that accusations of sexual misconduct or challenges about inappropriate behaviour were scaring men away from working with young children.
Participants blue-skied a range of possible solutions including: advertising campaigns, changes to salary grids and part-time BEd programs that would allow people to continue to work at their current jobs while pursuing careers in teaching.
So far, students, teachers and administrators agree:
Bridging program closes information gaps
Linda Zaks-Walker, formerly acting manager of the College's Intake and Hearings Unit, has been appointed project manager of Teach in Ontario, the bridging program that prepares internationally trained teachers for employment in Ontario's publicly funded schools.
Operating as a partnership project of the Ontario Teachers Federation (OTF), LASI World Skills, Skills for Change and the Ontario College of Teachers, the 18-month, Ontario-government-funded project aims to speed the licensing and hiring of internationally trained teachers.
Intake consultants have been hired and trained to assist applicants. The partners worked together to develop a web site (www.teachinontario.ca) designed by OTF, which will be launched this fall. The site will simplify and enhance information for teachers trained in other countries who are considering teaching in Ontario.
The project does not change any of Ontario's current licensing requirements. Instead, it provides information, advice, language upgrading and exposure to Ontario schools and curriculum, as well as assisting with job searches.
One of the goals of the Teach in Ontario project is to address teacher shortages in high-need subject areas such as French, chemistry, physics, computer sciences, mathematics and technology studies - filling vacancies created by teachers' retirements.
Concours provincial de français de l'Ontario
Each year, select students from Ontario compete for top honours in French-language proficiency.
Students from Orleans took the top two spots at the 66th Concours provincial de français de l'Ontario at York University's Glendon College in May. The University of Ottawa and Laurentian University help to organize the annual event, which encourages postsecondary studies in French in the province.
Each year, French-language secondary schools nominate two of their students to participate in the contest. Grade 12 nominees must prove their understanding of French by undergoing rigorous examinations in composition, dictation, précis-writing and reading comprehension.
The Fédération des caisses populaires de l'Ontario and its affiliates were the primary financial supporters of the contest. All finalists received books and magazines in recognition of their merits, and 11 grand prizes were presented for overall achievement. Grand prize awards for students ranged from $5,700 in scholarships and prize money to a combination of $200 plus tuition fees.
Additional prizes - first ($1,000), second ($750) and third ($450) - were awarded in each assessment category.
The top three winners were:
1st Prize: Sébastien Lepage of l'École secondaire catholique Béatrice-Desloges (Orleans) was awarded bursaries totalling $5,650 plus a $50 gift certificate from the Laurentian University Library.
2nd Prize: Ludmyla Monczak of l'École secondaire catholique Garneau (Orleans) was presented with $5,200 in cash awards.
3rd Prize: Cara DePlanché of l'École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier (Kingston) received $4,700 in cash.
The University of Ottawa will host next year's competition. For information www.concours2004.ca
Delegations from abroad visit to inform themselves on the College's legislative mandate and operations - including accreditation, training, licensing, professional and ethical standards, and the investigations and hearings process.
kuwaiti visitor (LEFT): Assistant
Under Secretary for Planning and Information, Jafar Y. Al-Aryan (left)
from Kuwait's Ministry of Education was accompanied on his visit to the
College by James W. Fox of the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
Help in French for special needs
Help is at hand for francophone parents regarding special needs students.
A new information kit - available at all French-language boards and from their Special Education committees - has been produced by Parents partenaires en éducation (PPE). The kit includes a videotape and user's guide full of useful information regarding learning disabilities and offers advice on how to plan information and training sessions.
PPE, which is the only province-wide body representing parents of children in the French-language system in Ontario, also begins publishing an information bulletin for parents this fall.
For more information www.franco.ca
College staff meet with representatives of Conseil ontarien des directrices et des directeurs de l'éducation de langue française (CODELF) to discuss challenges facing the French-language education system.
ON THE WEB
Online curriculum forum
The Ontario Curriculum Forum has set up links on the Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF) web site to the sites of all provincial subject and division associations.
These subject and association web sites provide a range of information and resources for teachers, including course profiles, newsletters, assessment resources, lesson plans and worksheets, contest information and online discussion groups.
Links on the OTF site are organized by subject area.
US study on sexual misconduct released
Charol Shakeshaft paints a grim picture in her study regarding sexual misconduct in US schools, carried out under President Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative. Shakeshaft, a professor at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, concludes that as many as one in ten students are subject to inappropriate behaviour by a teacher or other school employee between Kindergarten and high school graduation.
"The situation in Ontario is decidedly different," says Rosemary Gannon, co-ordinator of the Ontario College of Teachers' Investigations and Hearings Department. In statistics gathered at the College since 1997, 112 teachers have been found guilty of professional misconduct related to sexual abuse. "With nearly 190,000 members of the College, this represents less than 0.01 per cent of the teaching population," says Gannon.
In contrast, Shakeshaft's report to Congress regarding the incidence and prevalence of sexual misconduct in US schools is based on a literature review and the misconduct addressed includes a wide range of behaviours - from inappropriate comments and jokes to forced sex.
The preface does express reservations about the inclusion of such a wide range of behaviours. The department says that the vast majority of schools in America are safe places and that the overwhelming majority of America's teachers are true professionals. But it also asserts that "sexual misconduct in whatever form is a serious problem in our nation's schools and one about which parents and taxpayers have a right to be informed."
The US report covers the prevalence of sexual misconduct by teachers and other school employees, offender characteristics, the offenders' targets and recommendations for prevention of educator sexual misconduct.
The College published its first Professional Advisory on Professional Misconduct Related to Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct in September 2002. This advisory can be downloaded at www.oct.ca.
Student winners in CA Challenge
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) announced winners in the seventh annual Ontario CA Challenge, this summer. The province-wide accounting competition, consisting of 75 senior-level multiple-choice questions, was held in May at over 50 accounting firms across the province. More than 2,500 students have taken the challenge since the contest's inception in 1998. This year, 333 students from 115 high schools across Ontario participated.
Lionel Chow from Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy (Markham) and Jack Snider of Waterloo Collegiate Institute tied for first place in the province (eliminating the second prize category), while Katty Chau, also from Waterloo Collegiate Institute and Daisy Cheung of Earl Haig Secondary School (Toronto) tied for third.
"The Ontario CA Challenge is a highly popular initiative intended to encourage students to pursue chartered accountancy as a profession," says Duane Soares, the Institute's director of career information.
The province-wide Ontario first and third place winners each receive $1,500 and $500 respectively. All participants in the CA Challenge receive a certificate and a congratulatory letter. A plaque honouring the top three students in each CA District is sent to their respective schools.
For more information www.icao.on.ca
Francophone student exchange
The Association canadienne d'éducation de langue française (ACELF) offers 11 to 14-year-old francophone students a chance to live in another community or province for eight to ten days. The program covers transportation costs for 25 students and two teachers, as well as advice. To be eligible, schools must submit a detailed hosting plan that covers the various educational aspects of the exchange. ps
Deadline: October 15, 2004, for more information www.acelf.ca
Administrator of the year
BC grads rate their programs
The BC College of Teachers has completed its fifth triennial survey of recent graduates from teacher-education programs in British Columbia.
Questions address respondents' characteristics, their pre-service teacher education - intellectual challenge, quality of instruction, preparation for teaching - employment patterns and more.