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Introducing ETFO's New Voice at OTF (OTF Report)

Rian McLaughlin
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With  a  new  school year  come new roles for many of us, including me. As  your new OTF  table officer, I am very much looking forward to sharing timely and relevant information from OTF and building new connections for you with OTF.

Our umbrella organization  has a 65-year history, but its key principles and objectives remain much  the  same  today as  they  were  when  it was established in  1944. Providing a  forum for Ontario's teacher federations to  share common issues  and seek  consensus on moving forward together is   the  essence  and  strength  of  OTF. However, the  way OTF   works has  evolved over time. Indeed, the new focus centres on how to define OTF  and its role in the 21st century.

An extensive review of the Teaching Profession Act, its regulations, and OTF’s bylaws  and policies is  currently being undertaken. This much-needed exercise involves teachers from  all  across the province –   your  40  OTF   governors –   engaged in a   debate that I  am  confident will  bring about a   vibrant  and  modern  organization. As   your legislated, professional advocate and your pension  partner, OTF   is  actively engaged on  many fronts: protecting  and promoting  our profession, advocating for  public  education, and  building long-term  financial security for members of the pension plan. What’s new is  that we must find meaningful ways  of  ensuring  that  you  know what’s new at OTF!

A recent example of OTF’s advocacy  has been in    relation  to   the   new   professional designation  that is  being foisted upon teachers. Many of us  have reviewed the September  2009 issue of  the  Ontario College of   Teachers  magazine, Professionally Speaking, and  noticed the  huge fanfare over the rollout of the Ontario Certified Teacher  (OCT) designation,  which will be affixed to our credentials  in a user-pay fashion. Over the past year, OTF  and the four affiliated teacher federations (ETFO, OSSTF,  OECTA,  AEFO) have been working in concert to dissuade the  College from taking this initiative. We have significant  concerns about the costs associated with administering the program  with your fees and have found no compelling  reason to support its  introduction  or encourage  its  adoption.  The designation  is  unlikely to add any value to our professional  status. The College has not provided  full disclosure about how obtaining  a professional  designation  works in other fields, and we  are skeptical of  the  College’s ultimate motivations when teachers have not sought such a system. Even the Minister of Education is lukewarm about this initiative. I encourage  you to read OTF Communiqué,  September  2,  2009, vol. 15,  no.  1,  for  more information. OTF  distributes  the Communiqué  regularly through schools and posts all issues on its new website, otffeo.on.ca.

The complete redesign of the OTF  website, sporting  OTF’s new branding, has significantly added to the quality  and  accessibility of information teachers need. You will find an extensive array of professional  learning opportunities, pension information,  and highlights of the great work that OTF has facilitated  for teachers and students here  in Ontario and beyond.   OTF has a new face –  come have a look!