Friday, August 21, 2009

ETFO v. Pascal

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?


Anonymous said...

Yes Hugo the ETFO will once again prove their disconnect with progress in their veiled attempt to get more members.

This has the potential to backfire on the union - it's just really bad optics for ETFO to pick on ECE, which is what it amounts to.

After all, flexing their muscle with this Minister seems to get them exactly what they want.

Will how much McGuinty bends on this depend on where his votes are?

Anonymous said...

It might be time for the Liberals to give teachers more than one option for a union. Mike Harris didn't think through his math when creating ETFO.

Sam Hammond was one of the crew that screwed Hamilton teachers when he took them out on strike. Now that ETFO insiders has toasted Clegg, yet Gene Lewis remains as GS, I am sure the stupidity will continue. Hammond, an opportunist to say the least, is the mouth piece for an organization, not its leader. The nuts-and-bolts of the executive and local "leadership" remains.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 22:32
"After all, flexing their muscle with this Minister seems to get them exactly what they want."

Really? Is that why they screwed up their PDT and elementary teachers have lost salary parity with secondary?

I think this minister has shown she's more than willing to ignore the venting of some teachers' federations.


Anonymous said...

ER - true re: the ETFO and their screwed up PDA.

She'll make up for it in the run-up to the election...and giving in to this latest might just be the make up.

She needs those union votes.

RetDir said...

Back to the discussion about JK/K briefly, this link may be of interest to some (although the CCPA may not be a comfortable source for all)

Education Reporter said...

For all their noise, I haven't been convinced of the power of teachers' federations (and most organized labour) since Bob Rae was ousted in 1995. They tarred and feathered him and ended up with someone in power who was far less sympathetic to their cause.
The federations (and I do note ETFO owes its very existence to Harris) are still recovering from those eight years.


Anonymous said...

When it comes to winning votes we really don't know what goes on behind closed doors do we?

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out re: the expected timeline for rolling out the JK-K initiative. I'll wager it's not before the next election....and maybe not even after that.

I'm sure the war rooms on both political sides will figure out that the unions can muster more votes and pay for more ads than can the ECEs.

Does the Retired Director have any thoughts on this issue?

RetDir said...

Since you asked...the cost of this initiative on a province-wide basis will be prohibitive in the current economic climate (particularly given the commitment to the 3/3/and 3% increases), so you can expect to see it 'implemented' in some selected communities so that they can say that they are moving toward implementation. Some new school building projects have been approved with the necessary space included, so perhaps we will see it happen in those schools first?

When in a position to hire staff for early learning classrooms (which I would define as JK - 3) I desperately tried to hire the few people who had both teaching and ECE qualifications. My preference was based on the teacher training in literacy and numeracy (no unnecessary snide remarks, please) and the ECE training in child development and programming. In my opinion, teacher training for the JK - 3 years is inadequate in the latter, and ECE training is inadequate in the former.
Some years ago now, the then Ottawa board was permitted to run (I believe only for one year) kindergarten programs in which there was a teacher in charge of several kindergarten rooms (perhaps only two) which were then staffed by ECEs. The union reaction was predictable, and the experiment ended, although I believe some research came out of it that could be referenced.

In terms of the relationship between ETFO and the government, it would be very surprising if ETFO's intransigence during the last round of PDTs has not strained that relationship severely. I am still reading the tea leaves on Clegg's demise, but I'm not at all sure it marks a change in ETFO philosophy. Wynne is probably more beholden to OSSTF for her defeat of John Tory. However, it seems to be flying under a lot of radars that the OSSTF Toronto local remains without a contract, and is rattling its sabres about a fall strike, which would test that relationship as well. Since eliminating unions is not in the cards, what is needed in the province is a change in the legislation so that there is real provincial bargaining, not the PDTs, to which the unions only came because of the $$$ being has always surprised me that Harris was responsible for strengthening the unions to the extent he did, but I assumed at the time that his dislike for school boards was going to lead to their elimination. That would have left the unions bargaining with the province alone, but that shoe never dropped, leaving empowered unions to deal with fragmented employers.

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't a Retired Director have thoughts on issues? The inclination to stop directing and being part of the discussion needs to happen and is often not something one gets as they make their way through the system with their kids.

The myth that Harris was going to nix boards is just that. Truth be told, there are more and more reasons for boards to lose authority under this current gov't than when either Harris or Rae were in power.

Teachers just as easily saw Harris gone as they did help see him to two majorities(if you think that was all because of diehard conservatives, you'd be incorrect).

Boards face a perfect storm of an overly hands-on gov't coupled with a declining enrolment and more trustees opting to tow the gov't line than actually represent local control of their schools and it doesn't look particularly good for boards unless the move to regain some of those site-based decision models that were once so popular in the Shifting of Balance from central control to more local control of schools.

I get the impression that Wynne waffles between wanting to be in total control(more McGuinty speaking than she), and giving up that control to trustees, which is where I believe it should be.

Facilitated and nurtured by board staff and effective director/managers.