TORONTO - The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) is greatly concerned about proposed changes to the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) contained in Bill 48, the Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act, which threaten to transform the OCT from a self-regulatory body into an arm of the government.
“The government says Bill 48 is about empowering the OCT to test new teachers and revoke teachers’ licenses in certain circumstances, but the real thrust of the legislation is about reforming the OCT itself,” says Liz Stuart, President of OECTA. If passed, the bill would give the government the power to alter the composition of the OCT Governing Council, and to control the appointment and duties of the Chair of the Council. The government would also be able to alter the composition of OCT committees. These changes would enable the government to ensure that government-appointed members of the Council and committees outnumber those elected by teachers. There is no requirement that appointees have any background in education.
“The bill raises a number of questions,” says Stuart. “What problem is the government trying to solve? What kinds of policies and practices is the government expecting a newly comprised OCT to implement? Are similar changes in store for other professional bodies? The government should have been upfront about these issues. Teachers and the public deserve an immediate explanation as to what is really going on.”
The new bill is also another unfortunate indication of the government’s mistrust of teachers. “Evidence from around the world shows that education systems work best when teachers’ professionalism is respected and education policy is developed collaboratively,” says Stuart. “At the very least, teachers should have been consulted as this bill was being developed. OECTA urges the government to work with teachers to continue improving Ontario’s world-renowned publicly funded education system.”
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