This week proved what throwing some decent resources at education coverage can do. While many journos would likely point to the larger public-dollar and policy impacts to what the Globe and Mail uncovered Monday about the richest double-dip in Ontario, it's an education issue. This scenario doesn't exist in such a broad scale in other parts of the public sector in this province. It also garnered a second article on the Monday, with follows on Tuesday (two, actually) and Wednesday.
Someone reads or sees or hears something somewhere about retired teachers' pension eligibility and 90-day ability to work without penalty and the question arises-- how much is this costing? Drop $5 here, $5 there and get the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFOIPPA) a little workout (the articles note several appeals were needed) and you get a little deeper response. It was a logical follow-up to something discussed by Moira MacDonald in December (I posted at the time, and again when she did a follow-up in January). I'll note the double-byline on the article-- meaning the Globe assigned two full-time reporters to these articles to babysit the FOI filings, appeals and the do the grunt work once the documents were released. The Globe is one of only two newsrooms in the country (The Star being the other) I'm aware of that can or would throw two full-time journalists at an education issue like this, so kudos earned and deserved.
Of course, being the Globe with the prominence and profile it can give to the issue, other media latch on and either essentially redo the articles for their own audience or localize it. There have been a few headlines come across in my alerts since Monday on substitute teachers or retirees, as an example take this one from the Belleville Intelligencer.
I'm encouraged as well-- issues that I pick up on, blog about and then go big when other media pick them up (note, I'm not saying they picked them up here... that's a level of hubris I don't own) and really get people's attention. Most importantly, the attention of those who can make changes. It's nice to be ahead of the curve some times though,
If I were to have any criticism, it would be a small one-- the coverage neglects (I haven't read every article with a fine-toothed comb) to mention the 90-day penalty free clause has a time limit on it-- three years if memory serves off the top of my head. With the bulge of retirements now over, many of those who taught past retirement and were the targets of this coverage will soon see a drastic drop in the number of eligible days without pension penalty.
This could be an out for the federations and the government-- since the problem is going to decrease anyway, they could do a minor tweak and attribute decreases to that instead of a mechanism already in place. However, it seems as though genuine reform is coming-- from direction to decrease teachers' college admission (Oh, Dean Julia O'Sullivan should call them) to retirement and pension reform.