Friday, February 17, 2012

Response to the Drummond Report

The recent release of the Drummond Commission report had many recommendations regarding public education; two in particular will have a direct impact on the College of Teachers if implemented:
Recommendation 6-20: The added value of training programs leading to additional qualification should be reviewed, and decisions regarding the granting of qualifications and experience should be made by a body that is independent of teacher federations and school boards.
Recommendation 6-21: The province should be able to exercise legislative and regulatory authority to require that teachers have a minimum number of years of full-time teaching experience before they are allowed to attempt an additional qualification. While they could decide to make contractual arrangements with faculties of education or other service providers, school boards should ultimately have direct oversight of the content of additional qualification courses. The design of such courses should be reviewed in tandem with the new curriculum for the two-year teacher education program in Ontario. Both should be more rigorous and evidence-based, and focused on those aspects of their work that lead to improved student outcomes.
To put it bluntly, these recommendations have nothing to do with teacher qualifications or student outcomes. They are a blatant attempt to circumvent and drastically change teacher salary grids. Drummond is recommending that rather than legitimately addressing teacher salaries through the collective bargaining process, that the government should attempt backdoor regulatory changes to slow down teachers' progress through the salary grid.

Drummond's bias is revealed here, where he is talking about Qualifications and Experience (Q&E) grants which are given to school boards to top up the base salary they're funded for teachers:
The Q&E grant allows teachers to move to the high end of salary ranges relatively early in their careers. Based on the 2011–12 instructional salary matrix issued through the Grants for Student Needs, teachers in the highest qualification category will exceed the provincial benchmark salary amount of $72,879 by their seventh year of teaching. Moreover, about half of teachers are at the top level of the salary range (nearly $95,000 per year), up from about one-third in 2002–03.
The College must vehemently oppose any such changes. Ongoing professional learning is one of the cornerstones of our profession. Denying teachers access to professional learning and putting obstacles in teachers' paths is not in the best interest of students in any way, shape, or form.

Recommendation 6-20 is apparently made in absolute ignorance of the existence of the Ontario College of Teachers, as the College is already the embodiment of that recommendation. Assuming this wasn't a colossal oversight, what Drummond is essentially proposing is that teaching no longer be a self-regulated profession, and his ulterior motives of reducing teacher salaries couldn't be clearer.

Recommendation 6-21 is also apparently made in absolute ignorance of the existing teaching experience prerequisites for specialist qualifications. This recommendation is squarely targeted at significantly extending the number of years it takes a teacher to move to the highest pay category on the salary grid.

Drummond is well aware of the current oversupply of teachers and the poor job market; his specification of “full-time teaching experience” specifically excludes occasional teachers (as does the current Part 3 prerequisite). Given that new teachers will now typically spend years of their careers (or perhaps even their entire careers) as OTs, he is slowing movement on the salary grid even further by preventing any advancement at all until a teacher's career is well underway.

Since the teaching profession is ostensibly self-regulated through the Ontario College of Teachers, I'd venture to say that any move by the government to interfere with the College in this way would likely give the teachers' unions just cause for claiming a violation of the Labour Relations Act.

The College determines for the profession what additional qualifications are needed, and the format for those courses. Additional Qualifications awarded by the College, and their implementation, are completely independent of salary grids. Drummond appears to think that AQs are dreamed up by QECO and the teachers' federations; rather, they are simply used as an independent benchmark for determining placement on salary grids which are negotiated through collective bargaining.

The College has no role in collective bargaining, nor any influence on the value school boards and unions ascribe to Additional Qualifications when they negotiate salary grids. Drummond's recommendations are a direct challenge to teaching being a self-regulated profession; he seeks to sabotage existing collective agreements by hijacking the Ontario College of Teachers.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent analysis Mark! The Drummond report will set back teachers almost 15 years of hard won gains in compensation. As a parent and a professional educator he is only trying to attack a profession and undermine student education and teacher professionalism and self-regulation.