Thursday, November 19, 2009

Full-day kindergarten = ECE shortage?

Michael Purvis at the Sault Star had this article published Thursday on the pending phase-in of full-day kindergarten in school boards across Ontario and one consequence some boards may have to deal with as a result. As readers here and elsewhere will know, the government has chosen to implement full-day kindergarten in a slightly different way than Charles Pascal had envisioned in his report, assigning a kindergarten teacher and early childhood educator to work with classes that could be as large as 26 students.
"There's going to be an opportunity, I guess, for early-childhood educators, we're just not sure they're here in sufficient numbers," said John Stadnyk, director of education for the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, which plans to open four of the new full-day classes next September.
Stadnyk said agencies that employ ECEs in Sault Ste. Marie warned local boards that the hiring pool may not be large enough.
"They're indicating (ECEs) may be hard to come by in the northeast region, not only in the cities, but in the rural communities," said Stadnyk.
One would hope the government -- including Pascal -- had considered this before making and accepting the ECE component of the recommendation. Are there enough certified ECEs available to meet demand? Admittedly, some childcare centres will get smaller as their charges move to full-day schooling, creating opportunities for ECEs to shuffle from these childcare centres to school boards.
If there will be a shortage, perhaps it's time for the plethora of underemployed teachers' college graduates to consider enrolling in that ECE program. First, particularly if they're not already occasional teachers working in kindergarten classrooms, they might actually learn something about early childhood development that's not covered in teachers' college. Second, it might guarantee them a job, given I expect the continued impact of declining enrolment will again lead to many of the province's school boards to trim their elementary teaching ranks.
A college watching these developments would be wise to sharpen its pencil, head to the nearest teachers' college and work out some sort of condensed ECE program for teachers' college graduates.


Anonymous said...

Good article by your northern colleague ER, and your comments are ones that may have escaped the radar of the gov't...then again maybe not.

Could the ETFO known about a potential shortage? Puts a whole new twist into the mix if they did.

retdir said...

There are a lot of unanswered implementation issues with this initiative, but shortage of ECEs is unlikely to one of them - for school boards. School boards will be paying more money for these positions than most (if not all) non-unionized daycares. If there is a shortage it will be in the non-profit non-unionized daycares which lose workers to the school board sector. However, I hear a glib statistic that there are 34,000 unemployed ECEs in the province. While some of these may be choice, it would seem to be an adequate pool. They probably just don't live in Wawa or Michipicoten.
On the second point there are teachers with ECE qualifications - and as a school principal I used to try to actively recruit them for kindergarten programs. The benefits are as ER notes.

Anonymous said...

how much of the supposedly 34,000 unemployed ECEs may be the result of fewer children altogether? It's not just education circles seeing a decline.

Is it going to be possible for boards such as those larger, urban ones to escape closing schools because of this initiative?

A local radio station last week had quoted a board director as advising parents not to get their hopes up because what this whole initiative looked like isn't necessarily going to translate into
programs for every school that wished it.

I've also heard a rumour that the contents of what's actually in the curriculum hasn't been decided yet either.


Sandy said...

Good post Hugo. You're absolutely right on. I have taught in both college ECE programs and university pre-service. The latter is definitely not trained to deal with 3 and 4 years olds that is for sure.

However, suggesting that ECE be part of a Faculty of Ed is NOT going to happen. It is politics again and the various unions.

That said, many universities have B.A.'s in "Youth & Child Studies" -- that is where the link should be.

For example, Brock University has several four year "concurrent teacher education programs" B.Ed/B.A. or B.Ed/Phys.Ed or B.Ed/B.Sc. They could have also have a B.Ed./Ch.St.specialising in early childhood.

Or, there could be articulation agreements between colleges who already have ECE diplomas with universities who have a B.Ed in primary/junior. Like Brock and Niagara College.

Stay tuned. My bet that is one or more of these options will happen. I'll write about this tomorrow if I get time.

Education Reporter said...

Didn't mean to suggest ECE at TCs... was trying to suggest underemployed B.Ed grads go to college and get ECEs.

RetDir does make a valid point however— as usual, there may be an oversupply or shortage depending on where you are. We see the same in teaching— if you teach French or tech, then you're going to get a permanent contract faster than others.

I neglected to note the race that is sure to happen to represent the school board ECEs. I'm sure ETFO and OECTA are dying to get a piece of that union-due pie, however I could see OSSTF and CUPE going for it too.


Sandy said...

Re the unions, they have made a point over the years to NOT include anyone who is not "qualified" or have a temporary contract. Huge turf wars could result. My bet is CUPE since they already cover TA's.

When I was teaching prospective teachers, I had many former ECE graduates. They were always excellent students and had enough experience with curriculum that I used to appoint them seminar leaders.

What a lot of teachers don't realize, and quite frankly, never have realized, is what a heavy program the full ECE program is.

So, if anyone is reading this and they are wondering about a career in education, if they take the three year ECE program, they will then be accepted into a concurrent program in third year, meaning they get their B.Ed after two more years. Essentially, one more year than the usual program.

Education Reporter said...

I'm confused over your first graph-- temp contract? They're usually represented by occasional teacher units, strengthened in recent contracts by the fact you accumulate seniority in your OT placements that stays with you when you get a permanent contract position. OTs also have an earlier crack at permanent contracts than outsiders and first-timers.

I too suspect CUPE may get many of these ECEs because they represent most of the non-teaching staff within school boards. There are exceptions to the rule though-- ETFO has some EA units, OSSTF has some university based units. I don't know as much about the French boards and unions, but many already have full-day kindergarten. I could see ETFO making a play for ECEs in public boards and OECTA doing the same in Catholic boards given these people will be, in essence, team-teaching with ETFO members.

As to TC v ECE... I'm not a teacher and as mentioned here before, my non-journalism background is in aquatics and recreation. Everyone I know who has worked in these fields has found much of their classroom time at teachers' college to be annoying, getting the most out of their practicums. As I understand it, being an swimming instructor-trainer, I cover more child-development (particularly early childhood) content in a course designed for 15-year-olds than is included in teachers' college. Programs like the Parks and Recreation Ontario High Five program and the Y's Healthy Child Development program cover more child development content than teachers college. It's well established ECE programs do as well.

Many of the great kindergarten teachers out there reached that point through post-B.Ed professional development and experience.

So these kids will gain from full-day-- I would suspect much more from having the ECE involved than necessarily having a teacher, particularly if both have just completed their post-secondary schooling.


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Anonymous said...

ER - I agree with everything your saying and find the ETFO stance on this issue a nice try at boosting their membership and not much else.

I know a few ECE grads. who chose that direction for themselves instead of teaching because they wanted to stay away from the unions.

I know one young lady who got her ECE and then went to teachers college and who now finds herself out of work thanks to the freeze on by many boards to new hires and occasional/substitute teachers.

I know more young teacher grads who can't find work than I do ECE grads. ECE grads can open their own daycares, nursery schools.

Newly minted teachers can't start their own schools.

Anonymous said...

how ever you slice it this is another one of those programs that's going to look very different when it rolls out in small/rural communities than it does in larger urban ones.

I really don't think the Ministry has a handle on the differences, but more of a handle on where the votes are for them. Yes, there's the political spin that is never too far away.

retdir said...

There is about to be a huge union fight over who represents these new workers in the ed sector. They are not automatically included in most contracts, so representation is a significant issue. OSSTF already represents many support workers (I think only CUPE represents more). So the possibility of ETFO trying to organize the ECEs isn't beyond possibility.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 20 Nov. 07:48
I think I know what you're trying to say. However the minister and premier may have guided the decision to step away from Pascal and use more teacher time than he recommended, I think the ministry people charged with implementing it are well aware of the difficulties that lie ahead.

There are very few positions at the ministry subject to the direct appointment or consent of the minister. We also don't vote for the ministry, so very few of the non-politically appointed / hired staff there would care about votes.

Go beyond the minister's office, the deputy ministers themselves and their offices (such as the communications branch) and very few other ministry jobs are under the influence of the minister.

All that being said, again, you have a valid point about the minister and premier's significant fingerprints on this.


RetDir said...

It's true that most Ministry jobs aren't under the direct control of the Minister's Office. However, like 'Yes Minister' illustrated so wonderfully, at the middle management level and above, political implications weigh very heavily on the minds of the civil service, and any significant decisions are vetted higher up. That's why changes of government (and indeed Ministers) are so difficult in the civil service - they have to spend the first year figuring out how the game has changed.
Anon Nov 20 7:38 refers to boards having a freeze on hiring of new grads. There is no freeze - declining enrolment is outstripping retirements, so no jobs are opening up, except in certain select areas. This happens periodically in education - it was also the case when I started teaching (for budget, not enrolment reasons), which is why my early career was peripatetic. And any new grad is welcome to open up a private school, in much the same way that many new ECEs open up unlicensed daycares (which, unlike opening up a private school, is in fact illegal as the Day Nurseries Act applies to anyone who offers childcare for money).

Anonymous said...

Having been included in a number of government round-tables at one time I can tell you that rarely does eventual policy or regulations look like anything close to the original vision. The Ministry bureaucrats have more clout than you realize ER.

Sometimes the final program/policy looks nothing like what was proposed initially.

Politics is thick among those who have control outside the Minister's office.


Education Reporter said...


Never said bureaucrats didn't have power, or didn't play politics. Just that they aren't all there at the whim of the minister.


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