Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Asked and answered

Moira Macdonald asks in today's Toronto Sun whether or not retired teachers are hogging supply teaching jobs. Um, yes. Definitely. Most definitely. I have noted (but not really written) for some time that retirees coming back as occasional teachers is the biggest double-dip scam within the public service that I'm aware of. I can't think of another job paid from the public purse where retirees are treated so well.
As she points out, retired teachers (any certified teachers, regardless of what position they held at retirement) can return to work for up to 95 days without any penalty to their pension.
Not to mention, as Macdonald also notes, current OT contracts have gotten richer and richer over the past two cycles, to the point that you're paid a grid salary virtually from the first day of any supply placement. A few contracts ago, the grid rate only applied on OT placements once they hit a certain number of days. These were put in place so that new teachers could start accumulating seniority during their time in the OT gulag as they waited for a permanent contract— prior contracts would have many of these new teachers working very short-term placements for months and months and months and not gaining any seniority.
I still joke with a former Thames Valley staffer who retired as executive superintendent, was called to be acting director of education and then called upon again to be a superintendent of schools within the past three years. Every time I see him at a board function I ask if he's been pulled in from retirement again— but the point goes to the fact he can be pulled in without any pension penalty within the threshold.
All that said, a local contact within the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation explained to me earlier this year that the number of these double-dippers should start dropping soon. The 95-day penalty free ride is only for the first three years of retirement, after which the number of penalty free days drops to 20. The retirement hump — the milk and honey years for new teachers when full-time permanent contract positions were in abundance due to all the boomers who'd reached their 85 factor and were retiring — has passed in both elementary and secondary. For every year that goes by the number of teachers who are at 20 days will increase. More retirees with fewer penalty free days should make a difference in the number of days that become available as a result. Many of these provisions were brought in anticipation of this retirement hump, in that briefest of times when there may have been a teachers' shortage in this province.
Enforcement of the threshold is key, as Macdonald points out. Some boards are better than others, and some boards are not only acutely aware of the issue but also report monthly on the size of their supply lists and the percentage of each list that is made up of retirees.


Anonymous said...

This has bothered me for a long time.
I'm glad that you point out that this goes beyond just retired educators but also board admin.

What I'd like to know is how many of these retirees are seconded to the MOE where their effectiveness and success (or not) is simply being recycled into the system and the younger teacher want-to-bes?

I currently have four new teachers in my family. All in different regions of the province. The one in Peel has a temporary assignment, the one in Halton when he wasn't getting called move to the Peterborough area and took a job with MNR because nothing was moving there either(Ironically for that fellow that Halton called him 19 times in one week during the "flu crisis", one in London Catholic, and one holding out for a cushy Bluewater call.

I also have several friends who went back to teachers college and then found postings seriously lacking and went on to other jobs.

ER - Can we officially say that the teacher shortage is over in Ontario? I have yet to hear, or read that.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 16 Dec. 11:54
Hate to tell you, but the 'shortage being over' has been known for some time— I would guess three to four years. The Ontario College of Teachers' annual members survey clearly pointed this out some time ago— fitting since, I believe, it was among those touting a teachers' shortage around the turn of the decade.

What I still don't understand is why so many apply to teachers' college and go through the program. Unless you're breaking boundaries (ie: a woman teaching high school tech, or a man wanting to teach kindergarten), an equity population or have either French-language or technical teachables, your life will be defined by occasional placements or very, very part-time permanent ones.

It's one of the reasons I never re-applied for teachers' college.


Anonymous said...

Has either the Minister or the OCOT actually used those words to state that the shortage has ended ER? Such big news should have been major headline material,no?

Is there a link to the OCOT's survey results?


RetDir said...

Try this back issue of the OCT magazine -

Anonymous said...

Totally off-topic ER

From today's LFP Front Page

"Board Begs Off Day-Care Program"(I can't find a link to the LFP website though)

looks like the board's doing its duty and backing the teacher unions while the MOE pushes them to hire ECEs.

Once again we're witness to what could prove to be a valuable program for children morphing into creating jobs for adults.

Following a trend I'm betting that London's Catholic board has a release in Saturday's LFP with a much different less confrontational message. That's the pattern as I have observed it

Thx. RetDir for the directive.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I did find a link under "local" news. Not up in the headlines where page 1s usually are.

I also found a heart-warming item from the Catholic board in London re: efforts by their students to help the less fortunate.


RetDir said...

This off-topic post will be well worth watching closely - in addition to some of the valid points in the article that are made about additional work for principals, etc., I think the TVDSB will have been reacting to pressure from existing partners who provide before and after school programs, and who see financial disaster looming as they can no longer provide them. The flip side for the government is to try to reduce costs that would be associated if the before and after programs were to continue to fall under the Day Nursery Act, so they probably want to bring 4 and 5 year olds into the Ed Act instead.
We're in for a very interesting year on this one.

Sandy Crux said...

Hugo, just to clarify. Retired teachers are allowed to teach 95 days for three years only, then it falls to 20 days a year. You make it sound like it is 95 days indefinitely. It isn't. Here is the link to the rules.

That rule came into being when there was a teacher shortage.

One other thing. You make a blanket statement about retired teachers being re-hired. In the Niagara public board for instance, there is a policy whereby they are NOT allowed to hire retirees under any circumstance.

Moreover, if you check out the limits for the 95 days -- that includes even volunteering in a position where a teacher would normally be employed, or under contract.

And, working in education after retirement includes any job in a public board, and now private school. So, its not just about "teaching."

So, please no exaggerations! Beyond that three years at half time, the restrictions are extreme -- when you consider that neither I or my husband can so much as volunteer in a primary reading group.

As usual, there are two sides to every story.

Sandy Crux said...

Oh, and one more thing. Even if some boards have retirees on the supply list, the teachers' union insists that they are called last -- in a pinch.

Also, if a retiree uses only 5 days in a year, that still counts for the 95 days. In other words, if you don't use the 95 days, you can't carry those days forward.

So, if anyone is breaking these rules, they can be reported to the OTPP and their pension will be cut off immediately -- and reinstated only after monies are paid back.

However, if someone wants to go back to work, they can have their pension stopped and then recalculated and reinstated later when they finish.

My husband is tutoring International students in a private school setting. He has to count those hours towards his 95 -- even though it is at night and that is the students' place of residence.

He could tutor in our home but of course that is impossible in this situation. So, next year when his 20 days kick in, he can't even tutor anymore.

Yes, there is some double dipping. But they are working for their pay cheques just like anyone else. The pension was for the 35 years prior to their retirement. They are experienced, most have graduate degrees and are mentors to those coming into the system now and are much younger.

The crux of the matter is that the rules are now very restrictive because the teachers' unions don't want retirees back in the system at all.

So, if anyone knows of superintendents who are coming back I would question how they are being allowed to do that -- unless they never contributed to the teacher's pension plan -- because private contracts are no longer allowed either.

Education Reporter said...


Re-read my post— I actually mention the 95-day / year only being valid for three years, along with the drop to 20 thereafter. You've added some important context in your two comments.

I tried to point out towards the end of the post how an increasing number of retirees moving into the 20-day threshold would in fact help the teachers starting out land longer-term contracts.

Oh, and I am aware some boards don't hire retirees at all. I'm also aware of other boards where attempts to do so are grieved as being discrimination based on age.