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