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E a s t e r n   U p d a t e - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

iPad Winner

Congratulations to Kristy Angel who was the winner of our local “Win an iPad Web Hunt.” We wish her lots of fun this summer exploring the uses of this wonderful technology.

Summer Contact Information

Staff Reps are asked to collect summer contact information for all teachers at their school and fax it in to the Unit office. The contact information should include both home phone numbers and a personal email address.

Elementary Preparation Time 2011-2012

Elementary Preparation time for the next school year is increasing to 230 minutes per week. As in previous years this time should be arranged in meaningful blocks of time, such as attaching the 30 minutes to another block of prep, or aggregating over two weeks into one 60 minute block. It is imperative that instruction delivered during these blocks is in a reportable strand.

French Teacher and Prep

Teacher Travel Time The grievances launched by OECTA regarding the loss of prep and planning time due to travel time between classes required by the French and/or prep teacher was resolved with a memorandum of agreement that included the following terms:

“Where possible and where there is sufficient classroom space available in the school, a French/preparation teacher (“Replacement Teacher”) responsible for coverage for a teacher taking preparation time shall be provided his/her own classroom.”

“Where possible, schedules should be developed so that the Replacement Teacher’s subsequent class is located in an adjacent classroom and, where that is not possible, a classroom which is in close proximity to the classroom of the teacher taking preparation.

” Please ensure that this agreement is being respected in your school, and if it is not, contact the Unit office to report the problem.

Political Action Update

By now you will be aware that the Progressive Conservative party held its policy convention to determine their platform for the October election. OECTA was invited to attend as an observer, but was subsequently called and barred from the meeting. To date, all requests by OECTA for meetings with the PC party have been refused.

The following is an analysis from Provincial OECTA of the PC platform:

The party made an effort to take health and education off the radar for the campaign by claiming that these two sectors would be funded ($6 billion for health and $2 billion for education over four years), while all other areas of the budget will be cut. Although the platform indicates that they will implement full-day kindergarten it also states that the program “can be improved.” Does that mean by replacing teachers with ECEs? The document doesn’t say how, though we know that in the past Hudak has called the program “a shiny new car” that we “cannot afford.”

If they do plan to keep the current model, it will take at least $1.5 billion to fully implement. That would leave only $500 million over 4 years for all other program areas. The Liberals have committed to a GSN increase of $770 million for the coming year alone and to full-day kindergarten.

The platform talks about “achieving goals within existing education budgets by spending more on student learning and less on ineffective systems and administration.” This sounds eerily similar to the Common Sense Revolution:

"Health care, law enforcement and classroom funding won't be touched, but many other programs will be affected." (pg. 19) We all know how that turned out.

The education platform raises more questions than it answers. It contains broad statements about giving teachers the right to do things that they already can (teach phonics, ban cell phones, etc.) Principals will be given “more flexibility to meet the individual needs of their communities and students,” whatever that might mean. Under a Tory government, parents (and presumably everyone) would be able to view their child’s EQAO results. Does this mean that individual teachers could be held publicly accountable for individual test scores?

In one of several proposals that are distinctly not friendly towards unions, Hudak announced that “we will introduce paycheque protection so union members are not forced to pay fees towards political causes that they do not support.” As expected, public sector wages, benefits and pensions are targeted as being responsible for producing the deficit and Hudak vows to rectify the situation. Arbitration rules would be changed to require that arbitrators take into account ability to pay – just as they did under the previous Harris/Eves regime.

The numbers in the platform just don’t add up. Even the National Post points out that, “Mr. Hudak needs to make clear to Ontarians what program-spending (his) government would cut, and how much would be saved, before we can have faith that he can deliver his agenda… Ontario's Progressive Conservatives will have to answer hard questions about what they will cut to make their platform practical. We hope they see fit to do so soon.”

Should the Progressive Conservative party be elected in October, there is reason for concern that collective bargaining may revert to pre-2003 conditions. This could mean labour unrest such as strikes, lock-outs and attempts to strip contracts. With this possibility in mind, teachers should be prepared.

Unit PD Fund

Teachers who are taking AQ courses or going to conferences during the summer are reminded that they can apply for $200 to the Unit PD fund to help offset the cost of their professional development. Forms are found on the Unit website.

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