Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kudos to the Globe

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.


Anonymous said...

I've been following the Globe's articles ER, and you're right about the luxury of putting two reporters on education. That's going the way of the dodo bird in most papers save the larger ones.

On a positive note I freelance for my town's paper. First few years was almost exclusively about education issues but little by little I've had to devote more columns to "other" municipal goings on. This is what happens I guess when most taxpayers in my region have no children in school.
Their concerns and that of the paper turn to things that matter to the aging demographic like healthcare, taxes and dog poop.

I also do believe you're correct when you state that this may be an easy out for the gov't and unions.

I wonder if Western's going to churn out another 700 teacher grads. this year and in the following years?


Education Reporter said...


Definitely. But they've added some great seminars and courses on the areas of need, don't you know?
Did read some will restrict class sizes for a few years.

Then again, there are going to be thousands more grads competing for a scarce number of jobs in my industry too...


Education Reporter said...

Posting on SC's behalf due to tech difficulties.

"Sorry Hugo, it is one of the few times I disagree with. Sensationalism, not kudos to the Globe. They only got one side of this story. Read my post for the other side. In fact, there are many sides to this story.
As a former teacher educator I can say with authority that just being a new teacher graduate does not prepare you to teach any subject in any situation.
There is chemistry, math and langauges. There is special education.
It is not simply a matter of picking a new teacher over a retired one. They need the expertise first and foremost. A new graduate with a major in chemistry will get multiple offers of jobs because there are still specialties in demand.
So, when people talk reform, they had better know the consequences of certain decisions.
Oh, and the reason there are retirees on supply lists is not because they necessarily want to be called, it is because it is a union rule that anyone, even for a day, must be on said list.
As I said, no kudos for the Globe's incomplete analysis. I would be one of the first to complain about spending too much money but this latest coverage is simply incomplete.
Sorry for the rant but I am very angry. Reform by all means, but everyone needs to know what needs to be reformed before it happens. In my opinion, this is nothing but teacher's unions wanting more members.
Oh, and by the way, did you know that under the current retired teacher union rules, they can't even volunteer unless they count that as a work day. Why? Because if they mentor some young kids who might have trouble learning to read, it will be taking a potential job away from a teacher.
And, there you have it in a nutshell. It's about teacher unions and their wanting control. Of course, McGuinty and company will hand it over because the public anger and conflict caused by these latest articles -- articles that didn't tell the whole story."