PART 3: Early 1945 to 1980
The postwar landscape
The teacher federations survived a recession, a depression, and two world wars. They emerged from the war years with their existence and their memberships guaranteed by the 1944 Teaching Profession Act. The new Act boosted federation membership: overnight FWTAO membership jumped to 12,500 from 5,3001 and that of OPSMTF to 3,400 from about 1,6002 members. OTF and the ﬁve afﬁliates became effective lobby groups with government and formidable advocates for teachers with school boards and the public.
With wartime restrictions lifted, the federations could resume action on their key issues – raising the status of the profession and improving the economic conditions of teachers. Women teachers were also seeking equal pay with their male colleagues.
When school opened in September 1947 Ontario’s elementary schools were short over 1,000 teachers. Classrooms were bursting: students had to share desks and learning materials. Boards scrambled to ﬁnd teachers. Married women, sent home after the war, were called back. The postwar baby boom brought both challenges and opportunities. In 1945-46 there were 436,709 public elementary school students in Ontario. Ten years later there were 643,951, an increase of almost 50 per cent.3
The push for professionalism
The federations believed the teacher shortage provided an opportunity to improve salaries to encourage people to enter or return to teaching. Both FWTAO and OPSMTF worked to enhance teacher professionalism. They encouraged members to improve their qualiﬁcations and to adhere to the code of professional ethics outlined in the Teaching Profession Act. They endorsed higher standards for teacher education and a university degree for all teachers.
In a crushing blow to the federations’ efforts, the government responded by lowering standards for entrance to the profession and issuing letters of permission to people with no or incomplete teaching qualiﬁcations.4 In 1952 the government again lowered standards, to give a temporary certiﬁcate to a grade 12 graduate who completed a six-week summer course.
Faced with an increasing number of members with little or no training, and in an effort to maintain standards, both federations developed their ﬁrst in-service programs. FWTAO organized conferences and workshops, developed recommended reading lists, and encouraged its local associations to offer professional development opportunities.5 OPSMTF, recognizing its members were mostly Intermediate-grade teachers, vice-principals, and principals, offered summer courses in school supervision, administration,and effective practices for Intermediate classrooms.6 From these humble beginnings both federations developed extensive professional development departments.
The fight for equal pay