Saturday, February 11, 2012

Voter Forum question: What can be done?

In the Voter Forum, Julia posted this under the heading: What can be done?
In our Board a graduate teacher will take years to gain full time employement, if at all. Potentially excellent teachers give up. What can be done? It is in the public interest to encourage the best and the brightest.
Here's my response:

In my school board, it can take several years just to get accepted onto the occasional teacher list (which is by no means an assurance of a good income). The real solution to making occasional teaching a financially viable option is to ensure sufficient funding for occasional teachers (OTs) to school boards from the government, to bargain reasonable maximum number caps on occasional teacher lists, and to bargain to ensure there are fair call-out systems in place (no favouritism, preferred lists, etc.)

If in a given (fictional example) school board there are 50,000 occasional teaching days available in a year, pick a number you think provides a basic living. Let's say $20,000 minimum, which is hardly a lofty goal.

At roughly $200 per day, that's 100 days per year. Divide 50,000 by 100, and you'll find out how many teachers should be on the occasional teacher list: 500. If there are too many more, you dilute the amount of work everyone gets. Of course, you have to allow for a few more to account for people on LTO assignment and any retirees limited to teaching 50 days. In my example above, you'd want 500 maximum (plus a small cushion) to ensure everyone made $20,000 a year.

Of course, that's assuming that those 50,000 days would be evenly distributed amongst the 500 teachers doing daily work. That's seldom the case. Principals, teachers, senior administration... all participate in picking and choosing favourites, meaning a small cadre may teach 150 days per year, while many are in the under 50 ($10,000) range or 50-100 range ($10-20,000). Fair call-out systems are essential to ensuring everyone can make a living.

Beyond that, there is tons of room for improvement in making school board hiring practices fair, transparent, and accountable.

While the College can advocate for better funding formulas for schools, the other components are collective bargaining issues. You need to get involved with your union, and support the union, because those are exactly the issues your union will be fighting for at the bargaining table when all of our contracts expire August 31st.

As to the teacher oversupply, this is an issue the College has known about for years through it's Transition to Teaching study, yet done very little to address. We definitely need to limit the number of spaces available in teacher's colleges, although we do need to exercise caution that we don't create a future shortage as happened with nurses.

Mark Carter, OCT
Southcentral Region Part-time/Full-time candidate

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