Elections for a new provincial executive and the unveiling of the next step in ETFO’s Closingthe Gap campaign were highlights of the 2007 Annual Meeting.
Closing the Gap began in February with billboards and ads featuring the work members do. Delegates to the Annual Meeting saw new billboards and print ads that highlighted the fact that the provincial government provides $711 less funding annually for an elementary pupil than is provided for a secondary student.
David Clegg, ETFO’s new president, outlined what “closing the gap” will mean for elementary schools: “My vision for public education in Ontario is one that has proper class sizes throughout all of the elementary years, not just at primary… a dedicated librarian and a guidance counsellor in every elementary school [and] returns music, art, technology and family studies programs. But most of all it’s a school where elementary teachers are given the time and the resources to do the job right.”
Promises to reduce the gap “just won’t do,” Clegg said, noting that the foundation to academic success is laid in the elementary years and is the underpinning for strategies to reduce the high school dropout rate and improve student literacy and numeracy.
In her goodbye speech, outgoing president Emily Noble challenged delegates to work with members and the public and “get it done.” This $711 gap “deﬁes explanation and devalues the work you and I do and ignores the needs of our students,” Noble said. The funding gap will also be ETFO’s focus during the next round of bargaining.
Noble highlighted ETFO’s many accomplishments during the past nine years. Since the federation was founded it has successfully fought the teacher qualifying test and “tamed” the teacher performance appraisal process. She called ETFO’s last campaign, Campaign 200, a “truly deﬁning moment for our union.” That campaign resulted in every teacher collective agreement providing increased preparation time — to 200 minutes a week in 2008 — and limits on teachers’ supervisory duties.
Equally successful, she noted, was the occasional teacher campaign There Is No Substitute… which improved the working conditions of occasional teachers.
Noble received a warm and prolonged standing ovation from delegates in recognition of her years of service to the organization.