Stay informed – how teachers are treated matters to you

Provincial Executive unanimously endorses tentative agreement

We reached a tentative agreement with the government and trustees! We are confident this agreement addresses our members’ important concerns and priorities, and protects the quality of education in Ontario. 

So, what happens now?

The OECTA Provincial Handbook describes our three-step process leading up to the member ratification vote on the tentative agreement.

Step One

On Aug 27, the Provincial Executive unanimously ratified the tentative agreement. The Executive also unanimously recommended that the Council of Presidents ratify the tentative agreement.

Step Two 

The Council of Presidents will meet on September 1 to vote on whether to recommend ratification of the tentative agreement to the members.

Step Three 

Should the Council recommend ratification, OECTA members will then have two weeks to review the details before they vote on September 17. OECTA has suspended its work to rule action pending ratification.

OECTA reaches tentative agreement – work to rule suspended

Following its most recent round of bargaining with representatives of the Liberal government and the Catholic School Trustees, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) is pleased to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached. 

“We appreciate the government’s efforts and those of the Catholic school trustees in reaching this tentative agreement,” said Ann Hawkins, OECTA President. “We worked hard to address the concerns of our members and believe this agreement will protect them as well as the quality of education in our schools.”

The details of the settlement are confidential pending ratification by OECTA members, but work to rule has been immediately suspended during the ratification period.

This is the first tentative agreement reached by the Association under the new provincial bargaining legislation.  With a tentative agreement reached, all work to rule action is suspended during the ratification process.

During the summer, OECTA launched its TeachersMatter campaign to keep the public informed of what was at stake during these negotiations: data collection, workload, hiring and wages. To date, OECTA has obtained over 10,000 supporters on its teachersmatter.ca website

Five things you need to know about teacher negotiations

It’s important that parents understand how the current labour negotiations between teachers and the government and trustees could affect their kids.

Diagnostic assessments are not the same as standardized testing

The government wants to increase the amount of diagnostic assessment that happens in Ontario classrooms, and dictate when this testing is done, even if it cuts into valuable student learning time.  These tests are sold to school boards by for-profit companies, and  have little to no value for the vast majority of Ontario students.  Learn more about the criticism of unchecked diagnostic testing.

Giving teachers preparation and planning time improves student learning

The government wants to reduce teacher’s valuable preparation and planning time, by giving boards unrestricted power to administrators to determine how that time will be used.  This kind of micromanagement undermines the autonomy that teachers currently have to utilize the time in a manner that allows their own professional growth and improves learning for their students. Changes like this have had a hugely negative impact in the US and the UK, where cuts to public education and unsustainable increases to teachers’ workloads have caused a crisis in the profession.

We hire teachers according to transparent criteria

Right now, Ontario Catholic schools have clear and fair criteria for hiring in place, ensuring that candidates are selected based on their qualifications, abilities in the classroom and seniority in the system.  But the government now wants to replace the fair-hiring policy with a completely subjective regime, handing back unfettered power to elected trustees to hire whomever they want. Without rules, teachers could be hired through nepotism and the most suitable candidates won’t always find jobs.

Early Childhood Educators are essential for full-day kindergarten

An Early Childhood Educator (ECE) is currently required to be in Full Day Kindergarten classrooms with 16 or more students, supporting the teacher.  But under the government’s proposed changes, this regulation would be altered and an ECE could be re-assigned elsewhere leaving large classes with only one adult, the teacher, periodically throughout the day.

The government shouldn’t pay off its deficit by punishing one profession

Salaries are a part of any contract negotiation, in every industry.  The Liberal government wants teachers to choose between their wages and other support resources that help maintain the quality of Ontario education.  One should not be at the expense of the other. 

OECTA in legal strike position

As last week’s talks between The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) and representatives of the government and Catholic trustees failed to result in a resolution, OECTA served notice to the Ontario Liberal government and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA).

Today, OECTA is in a legal strike position, and Bishop Belleau Catholic School in Moosonee, part of the Northeastern Catholic District School Board, will be the first school implementing work to rule beginning August 20th, 2015. With this announcement, the teachers at Bishop Belleau CS will not participate in activities that fall outside of their contractual duties. Other schools are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks if a deal is not reached.

“We remain hopeful, but it’s important that parents know there are bigger things at stake in these negotiations,” said OECTA President Ann Hawkins. “We all want to avoid a disruption to the school year, but not at any cost.”

Parents are encouraged to join the thousands of other parents who raise their hands in support of a fair deal for teachers. Because teachers matter.  And how they’re treated matters too. 

Three things you should know about diagnostic assessment

During the past few years, there’s been a major push for schools to collect data about all elements of student learning. OECTA believes teachers should be able to use their professional judgement when it comes to the appropriate use of class time, and student data collection. So what do you need to know about diagnostic assessment?

It doesn’t always help kids

Teachers can put up with a lot if it helps kids. But the sad thing about diagnostic assessments is that they don't always help students.

As Steve Nelson, the head of the Calhoun School in Manhattan pointed out, “The assessments are dumped into a massive database, never to be seen again.” In her testimony to a 2012 provincial committee hearing on Bill 115, Dr. Lyn Vaus explained that a diagnostic test might be designed to establish whether students understand something such as “ing” at the end of a word, but will offer no subsequent useful direction to the teacher.

“To have to fill out paperwork which provides this data to the board serves little purpose other than that, in a distant future, someone from the board level can advise the teacher that the students are having difficulty with adding “ing,” and she should do something about that.”

It’s eating up valuable classroom time

In her new book, Schooled: Ordinary, Extraordinary Teaching in an Age of Change, Ann Lutz Fernandez describes the negative effect educational reform efforts are having on US schools and the American teaching profession. She specifically calls out school boards’ “fixation on collecting quantitative data” as something that’s taking away time from learning to assess every element of teaching and learning. 

It's profit driven

These tests are sold to boards by for-profit companies. In the US, this system has created a variety or problems, from unfair lobbying efforts to substandard products cheaply produced.

But Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, a US non-profit that advocates against the improper use of standardized testing including diagnostic assessments, said he blames politicians, not companies, for the amazing growth of the testing industry. “In a capitalist society, if there’s a market, somebody will figure out how to serve it,” he said. “But the corporations reinforce the stupidity of the bad policies of politicians.”

New Radio Ad - Data Collection

“Teachers matter.  And how they are treated matters too,” the key message of new radio campaign announced today by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, set to run on radio stations across Ontario.

The three, 30-second spots are intended to increase public awareness around the changes being proposed by the Ontario Liberal government and Catholic trustees in the current labour negotiations with teachers.  Each spot will look at one of three items being negotiated, including data collection, how teachers are hired, and cuts to education resources, and show the impact they will have on classrooms and students. 

“This new radio campaign is part of our ongoing efforts to keep parents informed about what is at stake in these negotiations” said Ann Hawkins, President of OECTA.

The new public service advertisements are part of OECTA’s Teachers Matter campaign, which launched last week with the website, teachersmatter.ca.  The radio campaign will air on approximately 55 radio stations across Ontario.

“In the first three days of our campaign, more than 6000 people signed up to show their support,” Hawkins said.  “The aim of the radio campaign is to continue to raise awareness of the issues teachers are facing and the long term impact those issues will have on the education system.”

Parents are encouraged to visit TeachersMatter.ca and raise their hands in support of a fair deal for teachers. Because teachers matter. And how they’re treated matters too.

More talks scheduled as OECTA strike action proceeds.

After two days of talks between OECTA and representatives of the government and trustees failing to reach a resolution, OECTA will be in legal strike position on August 17. OECTA members will begin Work to Rule action on their first day of paid work.

“We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached before the majority of our members go back to school,” said OECTA President Ann Hawkins. “But we continue to take a stand against unfair conditions that would have a negative impact on teachers and classrooms.”

More than 6,000 people have voiced their support for teachers during the first three days of the Teachers Matter campaign. Further talks are scheduled for August 20, 21, 24 and 25.

In Ontario, we shouldn't need to be told that Teachers Matter.

Parents have a right to know what’s really at stake in the current contract negotiations between Ontario’s teachers and the Liberal government. But ask most Ontarians about the issues being negotiated, and they’ll most likely either think it’s about salaries and benefits, or draw a blank. And parents just want teachers and the government to make a deal before Back to School begins.

But the issues being discussed at the bargaining table are more than just about salaries. They are about cuts to prep time, increased workload and a shifting emphasis to data collection that will have a very real impact on the quality of education in Ontario.

OECTA President Ann Hawkins outlines in The Huffington Post  how the issues affecting teachers will also affect students, and makes the case as to why Ontarians should understand that teachers matter.

New round of bargaining confirmed

OECTA leadership will sit down with representatives of the Liberal government and Catholic trustees on August 12 and 13, dates confirmed during a special meeting yesterday.

OECTA requested a "no board" report last month during the first round of contract negotiations, after government representatives refused to remove unfair conditions that would have a negative impact on Ontario classrooms.

The new dates come as OECTA launches a public awareness campaign to inform parents about the issues at stake in the current labour negotiations. 

"We would all like to avoid a labour disruption," said OECTA President Ann Hawkins. "But not at any cost to public education."

How do teachers spend their summer vacation? Fighting for you.

When our first round of bargaining with the government and trustees broke down, it was because they wouldn’t remove unfair clauses that would have a major impact on the classroom. In the Huffington Post, OECTA President Ann Hawkins pushed back against editorials that suggested teachers weren’t working hard for a deal, explaining that the government has made troubling demands that would impact Ontario teachers and their students.

While the public enjoys their summer vacations, the Ontario government and school board trustees are attempting to push through measures that will make it significantly harder for teachers to teach. The government shouldn’t be balancing the books through cuts to public education.

Read Ann’s op ed now.