The election of a new provincial executive, the introduction of full-day kindergarten, and EQAO testing were the focus of delegates’ attention and concern at ETFO’s 2009 annual meeting.
Elections occur every two years. This year delegates elected a new president, Sam Hammond. As well delegates debated and approved motions directing the federation to
- undertake a campaign that emphasizes the importance of qualified teachers in kindergarten classrooms
- increase public awareness of the negative effect of EQAO testing.
Newly elected president Sam Hammond said it was important to “aggressively advance” ETFO’s position on full-day kindergarten, “so that junior and senior kindergarten students will have ap rogram taught by teachers.” Having qualified teachers in the classroom for the full day is “best for children and their learning,” Hammond said.
Hammond also focused on the “burden EQAO testing places on students and teachers” and on the need to continue working to increase the funding provided for elementary students so that it equals that provided for secondary students.
Teachers are Key to Full-Day Kindergarten
On Monday August 17, just prior to the start of its annual meeting, ETFO released the results of a survey on public perceptions of full-day kindergarten. Later in the week, annual meeting delegates directed the federation to launch a campaign focusing on the importance of having a certified teacher in the kindergarten classroom for the full day.
During the 2007 provincial election campaign Premier Dalton McGuinty promised full-day kindergarten programs, starting in 2010. Once re-elected, the premier named Dr. Charles Pascal as his early learning advisor and charged him with developing a plan to implement the promise. The report that Dr. Pascal released in June did not outline a plan for full-day kindergarten; it called for childcare programs provided in schools to be added to the current half-day kindergarten program.
ETFO’s position is that full-day kindergarten means a certified teacher in the classroom for the full day. Ideally there would also be an early childhood education worker in the classroom to work with the teacher. But for ETFO the presence of a qualified teacher is key.
Parents support this position. Commissioned by ETFO, the respected polling firm Environics surveyed 900 adult Ontarians in June and July, including 323 parents of children under the age of eight. The results were statistically significant, with a margin of error of 3.3 and 5.6 percentage points 19 times out of 20 respectively.
The survey showed that the public supports full-day junior and senior kindergarten programs and, further, that these programs should be staffed by certified teachers.
The accompanying charts provide the survey results.
This survey was not the first to underscore the importance of staffing full-day kindergarten programs with qualified teachers. Nor was it the