This is another post that could be slugged surprise, surprise.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario's new president, Sam Hammond, was quoted as saying the federation will not give up on its mission to see full-day kindergarten (or, rather, 'full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds' as the government prefers to call it) led exclusively by certified teachers. TorSun's Queen's Park reporter has a piece published today. The majority of these teachers, of course, would be dues-paying ETFO members.
In our sit-down with Dr. Charles Pascal Wednesday, he touched on this opposition from ETFO. First, he was very clear to say the federation has become the single opponent to the recommendations for full-day early learning contained in his report. He also pointed out ETFO's animosity, if you would call it that, to the recommendations is in contrast to its glowing approval of his initial appointment.
He noted the federation's survey released Monday (PDF link). The comment he mentioned was to look at the wording of the question asked in the survey. Playing with words, the survey uses "child care worker" vs. "kindergarten teacher." I wonder how different the results would have been if child care worker had been substituted for "early childhood educator."
Pascal was very clear his recommendations centre on getting the people with the right skills leading early learning, regardless of title and/or membership in any particular professional college or federation. ETFO's own information provided to Pascal for his report showed a majority of teachers start teaching kindergarten with zero training in childhood development. Early Childhood Educators? Well, these college graduates actually spend significant time studying how young children's minds develop, how they learn through their ages and stages. Heck, as a swimming instructor-trainer, I spend time in my courses teaching 16-year-olds ages and stages and child development. These teenagers likely get more time with the topic than what's covered as part of a B.Ed. Those teachers who excel in kindergarten pick up this knowledge and experience practically-- some if they're lucky through local professional development obtained after their B. Ed. Present in the audience Wednesday was the dean of Althouse College at UWO, one of many in Ontario who admitted during Pascal's research that B.Ed. programs fail miserably at training teacher candidates in early childhood development, because they just don't do it.
So Pascal recommends a transition period where teachers' existing experience could be recognized, but that by the end of that period, every adult -- whether ECE or teacher -- leading full-day learning has the necessary training in early childhood development. That would require integrating that into existing B.Ed. curricula. It would also mean the flexibility to recognize that ECEs and teachers need to be lifelong learners, swapping experience and information so their students end up being the biggest winners.
It's about getting people with the right skills leading these programs, not what their titles, affiliations, etc. are.
ETFO's 'our way or no way' mentality will become a barrier to the implementation of this report. Given the political will to implement Pascal's recommendations, and if Pascal's anecdotes are to be believed, the desire of existing ETFO members to just get on with it, will the federation's executive once again screw its members out of progress?