October 26, 2012

A Message from President Hammond to ETFO Members:

Update on Meeting with Minister of Education
Fellow ETFO Members,

General Secretary Gene Lewis and I met with the Minister of Education and her staff on Tuesday, October 23, 2012.  I’d like to share what happened during that meeting with you.

Minister Broten:  Bill 115 is here to stay

The Minister began the meeting by stating the government has no intention of repealing or changing Bill 115. She suggested we put that “issue” aside and talk about a long-term plan to develop a better relationship.  The Minister indicated that, for example, both she and the government want to re-engage ETFO in Ministry of Education consultations and workgroup tables.

I was very frank with the Minister.  I let her know that the “issue” she had just summarily dismissed – Bill 115 – is at the very core of why ETFO and the government have not been able to have meaningful conversations.  Bill 115 threatens the democratic rights of ETFO members.  Bill 115 is the reason why tens of thousands of ETFO members are protesting across the province.  Bill 115 is the reason why ETFO has taken strike votes and has received the highest strike mandates in its history.  I advised the Minister that if she and her government were not prepared to repeal Bill 115, or even enter into meaningful discussions about how to resolve the issues created by the Bill, then ETFO would not be returning to any Ministry workgroups.

I reminded the Minister that ETFO and our members had supported her government since it was elected.  ETFO members played a key role in their re-election in October 2011.  Then the government’s attitude changed during Provincial Discussion Table talks in February 2012.  If the Minister had wanted to engage in truly collaborative and meaningful discussion at that time, things may have gone in a different direction.  Instead, she sent three insolvency lawyers with no understanding of the education sector to do her dirty work.

A Lesson for the Minister about Progress Reports

Minister Broten acknowledged the government knows how angry ETFO members are about Bill 115 but said she was very disappointed about ETFO’s “direction” about the preparation of “report cards” (her words) and the withdrawal of voluntary activities.

The General Secretary and I gave the Minister of Education a detailed lesson about the history of the “Progress Report” and how it differs from report cards, as well as an overview of her own Ministry’s policy document, Growing Success.  We also reviewed the nature of the word “voluntary” with her and noted that ETFO members are making their own decisions about what they do outside of their professional responsibilities, not ETFO.

Letting the Minister Know About the Negative Impact of Bill 115 on ETFO Members

The Minister was reminded her government has taken tens of thousands of dollars out of ETFO members’ pockets and limited their ability to take care of their families.

For the first time, the Minister admitted that what the government has done to ETFO members goes well beyond zero salary increases over two years.  But she also insisted the new sick leave plan was superior to what ETFO members have lost, i.e., 20 sick days with an accumulation of unused days.

You can likely imagine how well we received the Minister’s opinion about the new sick leave plan.  I described the OECTA sick leave provisions as an absolute mess, with school boards having difficulty implementing them in a coherent manner. It was obvious that the Minister had no idea about the real impact of Bill 115 on our members, and so we provided her with information about the desperate situation that three ETFO members now find themselves in due to the elimination of sick leave days they accumulated over 15-30 years.  Thousands of our members are, or will be, facing similar difficulties.

Minister Must Accept Responsibility for Chaos in Public Education

A good deal of time was spent discussing collective bargaining issues. I told the Minister that, like ETFO, many school boards feel they are in a very difficult situation at the bargaining table because of the government’s interference in the collective bargaining process.

The General Secretary and I concluded our conversation with the Minister by letting her know ETFO is always ready to talk with the government and also intends to bargain in good faith with school boards.  However, if bargaining is going to consist of stapling the OECTA MOU to existing collective agreements, then negotiations have little chance of succeeding and strike action is likely; the Minister must accept responsibility for the current climate of chaos and its impact on the public education system.

I will continue to keep you informed of any further discussion with the government.

Thank you for your solidarity, your support, and your continued efforts to oppose Bill 115.

ETFO Advice on Special Education Alternative Program Reporting

The Elementary Progress Report for Grade 1-8 teachers follows the policy guidelines for assessment and reporting under the Ministry of Education’s policy for assessment, evaluation and reporting (Growing Success), for the 2012/13 school year.

This policy also addresses reporting on a student’s alternative program.  

“In a very few instances, where the student’s program is not based on expectations from the Ontario curriculum for Grades 1 to 8, an alternative format may be used to report the student’s progress / achievement….. When using an alternative format, teachers should indicate the student’s progress / achievement relative to the expectations identified in the IEP, and should comment on the student’s strengths and next steps for improvement.”

Growing Success, Page 62

The format for reporting on an alternative program looks different across the province.  For example:

  • some district school boards use the evaluation section of the IEP, while some have created a board template for an alternative program progress report.

When reporting on alternative programs for the fall progress report, the following advice to teachers is provided:

  • If a checklist is required, all boxes should be checked.

Teachers are to use their professional judgment in the completion of a written report.

  • A checkmark in a box indicating the student is Progressing with Difficulty / Progressing Well / Progressing Very Well is required.
  • Any comment box should have a single sentence indicating strengths and next steps for improvement.
  • If a student is experiencing difficulty in their progress towards achieving the expectations in the IEP in an alternative program, an extended comment is appropriate.

At this time in the school year the information provided for parents is based on teacher observation of student growth and progress, comments should be general rather than specific as it is the beginning of the year.

If there is a requirement for teachers to submit their reports to their administrator, the teacher’s professional obligation regarding the content of the report is complete once they have been submitted.

October 23, 2012


Workshop: 5-Minute Fillers – Oct 25, 2012

Again this year, your Professional Learning Committee is offering informal discussion/sharing sessions for Occasional Teachers on the last Thursday of each month, called ‘Staffroom Thursdays’.  The ‘big room’ at the OT office is referred to as the Occasional Teachers’ Staffroom!

Five Minute Fillers

The first session for this year is tomorrow, October 25.  The topic is ‘Five Minute Fillers‘.
Come out and get some ideas to use when you have 5 minutes ‘to spare’ in a classroom!

  • Games, songs, books, etc.
  • Anything that requires little, or no, prep. work!
  • Bring your favourite ideas to share with others.

No registration needed – just drop into the OT office

Where: 130 Highland Rd. North, Kitchener, ON
When: 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

See you there!

PROVINCIAL TAKEOVER BULLETIN #5 – Premier McGuinty resigns and the Legislature is prorogued


Here is the most recent bulletin from our Provincial office.  We will not be sending a hard copy of this bulletin this time.  Please read the information carefully.

Judy Cutts,
WROTL President