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Teachers and extracurricular activities

Teachers in many of Ontario’s School Boards have heeded their union’s advice to take a “pause” from coaching or otherwise being involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports team, in protest of the Ontario government’s recent legislation imposing salary freezes, etc. And, as is always the case in any type of labour disruption in the education sector, the students are the ones who feel it the most.

So what to do?

The teachers are well within their rights to hold back these unpaid services. They are paid to deliver a provincially-mandated curriculum to the students and anything outside this is unpaid labour. So I can’t argue with their frustration over having bargaining rights taken away and their reaction. This is the only legal tool they have.

So if teachers are – at least temporarily – out of the picture, who picks up the slack?

Parents?

Maybe. But those parents who are active in the community and the likely suspects to step up and coach the Junior boys soccer team are already stretched for time. I know. I’m one of them. That is the case in my little corner of Ottawa and I suspect it the same elsewhere. There might be a bit of a community pool to draw from, but it would come nowhere near to filling the gap left by the teachers.

As well, there is the whole security issue around having parents lead these teams without some sort of oversight, as in police checks.

Trustee for zone 3, Donna Blackburn, said she has been inundated with phone calls from parents who were frustrated about the parameters of volunteering and the deadlines for getting involved.

Adams said all volunteer coaches and assistant coaches need to go through a process, including police checks.

“Our No. 1 priority is student safety,” Adams said.

The deadline for winter sports is Oct. 31, she said, and that the board will work with principals to get the information about volunteering out to parents and other interested members of the community.

So, for all practical purposes, parents and other members of the community might help, but only a bit.

A logical longterm solution might be to have the teachers play a supporting role only and hire professional coaches who could manage a few different sports. But that would cost money and neither the Boards nor the province have any dineros to spare these days… unless…. hmmm…

We DO have this wasteful and discriminatory duel education system in Ontario… I wonder if there could be adequate cost-savings realised by MERGING the public and seperate Boards? Hmmmm?

Of course we don’t know the extent of the cost savings because no government has had the balls to do an independent, unbiased analysis of our publicly funded education system. Even if the savings were only $20 or $30 million annually, that would hire a few hundred pro coaches at 60K a pop or so.

Just sayin’…

 

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So the Ontario provincial government…

… is threatening to take away the power of locally-elected school boards if they do not come to the same contract agreements as did the province with the Catholic Board?

In a memo obtained by The Globe and Mail, assistant deputy minister of education Gabriel Sékaly directs the boards to reach a deal with the unions before the start of the 2012-2013 school year and requires them to work within a contract framework established by the Ministry of Education and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association.

 

 

The memo suggests that school boards could be facing a provincial takeover if they do not sign teacher contracts within the next six weeks, consequences a government spokesman would neither confirm nor deny.

Tell ya what, Mr. Premier, how about you start moving toward the abolition of separate school funding before you remove local control over local education. OK?

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McGuinty backs down… again…

It is clear that leadership at Queen’s Park means caving to special interests whenever the going gets tough.

Headlines:

Sex Ed opponents claim victory in Ontario

Liberals hear consumers’ cry, vow to retool eco-fee

Ontario Ombudsman: Province used ‘dubious’ powers for Toronto G20

Caving to religious groups, anti-tax advocates and Stephen Harper – in that order.

And now they have backtracked on their plan to provide single provider before and after care in Ontario’s school system. Now, instead of having on-site before and after care provided through the local School Board, third party operators will now have the opportunity to provide these services.

But Trashy, you say, isn’t this a GOOD thing? I mean, you’re involved with a local not-for-profit daycare, won’t this mean more business for you.

No, not at all. This latest flip flop is the result of the Ontario Liberals caving to a few very large daycare operators. Check out this headline from the Owen Sound Sun Times:

Locals applaud daycare decision

Yay for the locals!

But wait… what provider is quoted in the story?

The Y is heavily involved.

“We’re probably the largest provider in Grey and Bruce of before-and after-school care. We have 18 programs within the Bluewater school board and the Catholic school board and we serve probably in the neighbourhood of 600 to 700 children and families,” Dennis Morrison, centre manager for the Family Y, said.

Big time operator, the YMCA.

And the School Boards? They didn’t like the idea of seamless all-day early learning one bit.

“It was not a business we wanted to go into,” Marnie Coke, the superintendent of elementary education with the Bluewater District School Board, said Thursday.

See, here’s the problem with having before and after care provided separately from the Board:

The proposed amendment announced by the premier institutionalizes the divide between education and care and the split in the child’s day. It undermines the professionalism of Early Childhood Educators who bring the all-important play-based learning to children’s programming, relegating them to part-time workers whether employed in kindergarten classroom or after school child care.  The perennial problem of finding and keeping qualified ECEs who are willing or able to work split shifts will be exacerbated, compromising program quality.

For large institutional providers like the Y, it’s not a big concern since they have an enormous staff pool from which to select. Smaller, not-for-profit Centres have nowhere near as much flexibility and it will be difficult to attract and retain staff with promises of split shifts and few paid hours.

I, and others, have talked about the need for a greater education community. If School Boards are truly concerned about the quality of preparation for the school-years – be it at the child’s home, a for-profit institutional daycare or one of the smaller not-for-profits, then Boards everywhere in Ontario should build a better partnership with all pre-school care providers. Don’t freeze them out – but rather open a dialogue with the broader community. And do it soon! Are you listening, OCDSB?

From Randall Denley:

Kim Hiscott is the executive director of Andrew Fleck Child Care Centres. She says McGuinty’s plan might not be viable because it leaves organizations like hers with unattractive pieces of work at the beginning and end of the school day.

It would be difficult to attract early-childhood educators (ECEs) to work a split shift with less than full-time hours, Hiscott says.

The problem will be made worse by an impending shortage of ECEs, caused by school board hiring.

The grand plan McGuinty originally endorsed called for a seamless day for children with an ECE there for a full day starting about 7:30, then kindergarten classes and another ECE to work until the parents pick the children up, as late as 5:45.

The modified plan will allow boards to offer kindergarten only and foist the unattractive part-time work off on the non-profit centres.

From OISE – a good summary:

The province is responding to the self-interest of a few large child care
operators and to the fears of a small percentage of parents who already have their child care needs met.  Requiring school boards to offer affordable early learning and care was designed to help the 80% of families who have no access to child care.

Dr. Pascal’s plan was sound but the Liberals in Ontario messed up the planning, administration and delivery of this good idea. Now, in typical fashion, they are making an already ad situation even worse.

Under split delivery of before and after care, the following problems will remain:

  • We have a  fragmented patchwork of programs – and this is stressful for children, parents and those in the child care industry;
  • The inefficiencies and higher costs to taxpayers will continue and the childcare fee savings the premier promised parents during the last election will not materialize.
  • Wait lists? Get used to them. Longer ones too!

WHAT DO WE NEED?

We need political leadership and champions for universally accessible, fully integrated early learning.  We need leaders in Queen’s Park who will not cave to self-interest groups less than six months after passing their own legislation. The child care issue is just the next in a long line of caving.

If you agree, let the Premier know:

https://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback/feedback.asp?Lang=EN or call (416) 325-1941

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