The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher
TORONTO There was a time when people chose a career in teaching because they viewed it as a calling, a vocation.
The intangibles associated with helping shape the citizens and the community of tomorrow were a signiﬁcant inducement for young men and women looking for a job with meaning. And the pay was/is not too shabby. Why not? Workers whether “white collar“ or “blue collar” should be paid for the services they are contracted to provide. Management leaders – should be compensated appropriately for the value-added they bring to that worker environment. If you don’t want to do the work, or you can’t add value, leave.
The Director of Education at the TCDSB, Rory McGuckin backed by his Senior Superintendents posted a Report relative to the International Languages Program (ILP) in advance of Board meeting next July 12.
They recommend discontinuance of “the ILP in the extended-day format”, non-integration of “the ILP during the regular day of 300 minutes of instructional time”.
Forty four schools, their teachers and their students are aected. Instead of the current format, eective September 2018, they propose a “new delivery model” (not yet worked out) that will see registration for “before or after school, and on Saturdays”.
Mr. McGuckin has developed a habit of not responding to e-mails from the Corriere Canadese, as in this case, so we have to scrutinize the Report to understand why he is so determined to eliminate third language studies from the TCDSB’s elementary school.
It turns out that he is swayed by section 3(1) of “Ontario Regulation 298 (R.R.O. 1990)”, which says that the instructional program “shall be not less than ﬁve hours a day excluding recess or scheduled intervals between classes”.
Its been that way for twentyeight years. The key words are “not less than” – the minimum; a ﬂoor, not a ceiling. The Board (any Board) can choose to increase that number of minutes to achieve the curriculum goals of its parent communities.
The Ministry of Education is never averse to improving the “reading, [w]riting and [a]rithmetic” skills of students. If more instructional time is helpful, it never says no to requests.
The Minister’s opinion on these matters might be a good place to start, but Mr. McGuckin chose to go to outside legal counsel on the advisability of oering ILP during the instructional day. Odd. The Ministry will eventually determine appropriateness, not the law ﬁrm.
The Program would not even elicit “concerns” (at any rate, it clearly has not been an issue since 1990) were the ILP delivered by certiﬁed Ontario teachers, as the Report acknowledges. The Teachers’ Union is another matter.
Their leader, Patricia Minnan-Wong (who incidentally also appears averse to responding to Corriere e-mailed questions), is meticulous about money it thinks its members are owed.
Speciﬁcally, no teachers at schools with an extended day ILP should be asked to “stick around” for an extra half hour – without pay – while their colleagues in other schools “get to go home a half hour earlier”.
Even if they beneﬁt from an extra thirty-minute break during the day, while the others do not.
Her unwillingness to discuss the matter with the Mr. McGuckin on an amicable basis – no money on the table – led to a grievance. An Arbitrator apparently side with the Union, although the details are not revealed in this public Report.
We are taking about public money, curriculum, teachers and children. And precedents in the next bargaining cycle.
There is an average of 25 teachers in each of the 44 schools with ILP – a total of just above 1000. If they are “re-inbursed” for that one-half hour of misery that they have had to endure for the school year it will come to a tidy sum equal to about two and a half weeks pay. Teachers make over $100,000 after ten years experience.
Mr. McGuckin makes more than three times that amount. If he relinquishes his authority to negotiate delivery of the curriculum to an unnamed Arbitrator, High School teachers who deliver extra-curricular programs (unpaid) should grieve for re-imbursement as well. Instructors of ILP do not make more than $50,000. But it’s not always just about the money; it’s about the vocation.
It appears to be a concept that neither the teacher’s Union nor Ms. Minna-Wong are capable of grasping.
In the interests of transparency, why not release the ﬂurry of complaints that prompted the grievance, or the dollar values at stake?