Sunday, October 17, 2010

ETFO platform ready

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has released a 28-page document, it's platform for the 2011 provincial election that lies at our feet-- once the current municipal election is complete next Monday.
Here's its summary of recommendations:
  • Establish a two-year moratorium on EQAO testing to allow for public consultations on the uses, value, and impact of the current provincial testing regime.
  • Consider adopting a random sample model to measure the appropriateness of the curriculum and the effectiveness of teaching strategies.
  • Place more emphasis on the role of ongoing teacher assessment of student progress.
  • Establish more balance between literacy and numeracy and other subjects including science, social studies, the arts, and physical and health education.
  • Increase the elementary foundation grant (EFG) to provide all elementary schools with specialist teachers in the arts, and health and physical education.
  • Increase the EFG to provide all grade 7 and 8 students with access to design and technology programs.
  • Increase the EFG to provide at least one qualified teacher-librarian per elementary school.
  • Increase the EFG to provide at least one qualified guidance counsellor per elementary school.
  • Reduce the number of prescribed student outcomes and identify, instead, a set of core learning goals.
  • Provide all elementary classrooms with resources that support hands-on, experiential learning.
  • Extend the benefits of smaller classes to grades 4 to 8.
  • Reduce the average class size of the full-day early learning kindergarten program to align with other primary grades.
  • Establish a process to better track class size and maintain class size targets throughout the school year.
  • Base the special education grants on the educational needs of students.
  • Increase the funding allocation for educational assistants, counsellors, and child and youth workers.
  • Revise the English as a second language (ESL) grants to more accurately reflect the number of students who don’t speak English when they enrol at school.
  • Revise the ESL grants to increase the capacity of schools to extend ESL programs to students who need the support beyond four years.
  • Provide classroom resources to support the Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy.
  • Provide professional learning that addresses discrimination and oppression of marginalized students.
  • Provide specific compensatory grants for schools in disadvantaged communities to support additional learning materials, field trips, and in-school arts programs.
  • Reaffirm the provincial plan to reduce child and family poverty by 25 percent by 2013.
  • Mandate school boards to provide child care services before and after school and during school breaks.
  • Where space is available, use schools to establish community hubs.
It's an interesting list -- many of the items could be reduced to asking for more money for programs or positions that ultimately benefit ETFO members. There's nothing innately wrong with that since ETFO is ETFO so it can advocate for its members. Readers here will already know I'm not often convinced by student-first veneers painted on federation tactics as really, a union's first job is to advocate for its memebrs, the people who after all pay the bills. There are some good suggestion in there however, which shouldn't just be dismissed because the federation is the one suggesting them.
With party platforms still a few months away at best -- I wouldn't expect the first one to come out until the spring of 2011, so we can spend the summer getting tired of them -- I'm curious to see what the reaction to this document is. Will it land with a thud that no one hears? Should it?
ETFO also appears to be first out of the gate on this-- a quick scan of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association shows no similar document.


Anonymous said...

Gee ER, if ETFO plays its cards right this could morph into the biggest PR disaster ever for elementary teachers in areas where the economic down turn has hit and hit HARD.

It makes them appear greedy and very much out of touch.

I'm betting on one of McGuinty's secret meetings with union heads to suggest they keep quiet until the election's over at which time the gov't will cave...same old, same old.

I give if a full 5 thuds and a "so what else is new".

Anonymous said...

What do you mean Anon. 12:48?

The list already looks like a page from the People for Education wish list. Very similar points made.

Reserving judgment for now but it used to be the OSST who were the unreasonable union among them all.

Education Reporter said...


Let's not forget that it's ETFO that allows its members to lose wage parity with other teachers in how it bungled the last round of contract negotiations.

I don't begrudge them the ability to put out a platform and ask for stuff. I don't see current government priorities aligning with many of their planks, is all.


Anonymous said...

In reading through the list it seems that there's a continuing effort by ETFO to achieve parody with the secondary panel. Not going to happen.

Education Reporter said...

Anon: 21 Oct. 07:49

Not sure if it was intentional, but your use of parody instead of parity shows a certain tongue-in-cheek sense of fun. Maybe.
Brought a smile to me, anyway.


Anonymous said...

ER - it was intended. The ETFO is a million laughs sometimes if nothing else.

So what do you think about the new lobbying/consultants bill that's being floated by the government. It includes school boards too.

Is there any way the public can learn how many consultants are used by school boards and how they are accounted for?

There was a time in the School Profiles when this information was readily longer.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 22 Oct. 9:12
Good question. I've never really put my mind to thinking about school boards and lobbying. There are certainly dominant boards (think TDSB, York Region, Peel) that carry a lot of influence at the ministry level, but I don't know of any direct lobbying per se.

Of course, trustees have their various associations (Ontario Public School Boards Association, Ontario Catholic Trustees' Association, the French-language equivalents) that do lobby, advocate, speak out and develop input into provincial policy. The federations do the same.

It would be an interesting Freedom of Information request to any particular board-- whether it spends any funds on lobbyists (although they may hide them as "consultants") and how much.

*brain ticking away*