Member concerns about EQAO testing dominated ETFO’s 2010 annual meeting. President Sam Hammond called on the government to temporarily halt province-wide testing and reduce the resulting number of Ministry initiatives. Teachers need the time to provide a balanced education for every student, Hammond said, adding that money spent on EQAO and the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat could be better spent.
More than 600 delegates and alternates attending the meeting viewed a new ETFO video in which teachers and parents speak out about the negative impact of the province wide testing. As well, ETFO released the results of focus group testing conducted by Environics Research Group.
Hammond pointed out that the research, and a previous survey conducted by Environics late last fall, showed that ETFO members believe EQAO testing does little to improve learning. The emphasis on test scores narrows the focus of the education teachers are able to provide, leaving less time for other subject areas. EQAO testing particularly disadvantages children with special needs. Delegates mandated ETFO to launch a further campaign to inform parents and the public about the negative impacts these initiatives have on our students and our classrooms.
The elections at the 2009 annual meeting resulted in a vacancy in the position of first vice-president. Last fall, the ETFO executive appointed Susan Swackhammer to fill the position. In turn, Maureen Weinberger was appointed to fill the position of vice-president female. In accordance with ETFO’s constitution, elections were held this year and both Swackhammer and Weinberger were elected to the positions they held during the past year.
Prior to the annual meeting, the executive appointed Monica Rusnak (Ontario North East Teacher Local) to fill a vacancy created when Mark Hachmer joined the ETFO staff.
More member involvement
In his closing address, President Sam Hammond reiterated his commitment to represent all members across Ontario and “to build a transparent, accountable, and collaborative culture” in the federation. “Together with your local leaders and members of the provincial executive we have done that over the past year,” he stated.
Delegates to the annual meeting built on that approach by approving resolutions that will increase member involvement. They voted to add two more members to the ETFO Budget Committee and to create an opportunity for chairs of ETFO committees to meet with the executive. They also asked the executive to make it possible for members to be more actively involved in determining bargaining priorities.
A moratorium on EQAO testing is not part of the government’s plan, Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky told delegates to the annual meeting. EQAO testing provides an accurate and objective assessment of student achievement and of the school system, which “parents want,” and which “allows us to drive resources into classrooms,” the minister added.
Nevertheless, she acknowledged that province-wide testing was just one measure of student achievement and underlined the importance of parents talking to teachers when they want to find out how their children are doing in school. Ontario’s education system is known throughout Canada and the world for its excellence, Dombrowsky said. She added that the new Early Learning Program is a unique initiative that underscores the government’s commitment to publicly funded education and student success.
Andrea Horwath, leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario, supported ETFO’s criticism of EQAO, which she said ”throws a monkey wrench” into real teaching and real learning. Horwath noted that Ontario celebrates diversity as one of its core values. “So why is it we apply cookie cutter methods to our public education?” she asked. She called for random sampling and a broader definition of student success to include aptitudes in areas other than literacy and numeracy.
Horwath also criticized the Ontario government for its decision to cut corporate taxes instead of investing in health care, education, and public transit. She said the government had cut corporate taxes but is now asking front-line public sector workers to accept a wage freeze.
All schools received a copy of the EQAO video in September. The brochure “Talk to your child’s teacher” is available for members to distribute to parents and the community. The March 2010 issue of Voice outlined in detail teachers’ concerns with EQAO testing.
All resources are available on our website, etfo.ca.
Continuing Support for Aboriginal Literacy Programs
Five years ago then-Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman asked delegates to ETFO’s annual meeting to support his newly created Aboriginal literacy initiatives for northern communities: summer literacy camps, annual book drives, and the book club, Club Amik. This year, David Onley, the current Ontario lieutenant governor, asked delegates to continue their support. Delegates did so overwhelmingly, approving a $45,000 contribution for each of the next five years.
In his address to the annual meeting, Lieutenant Governor Onley explained that one reason he is continuing the support for these initiatives is that he is an advocate for accessibility.
“Accessibility is that which enables people to achieve their full potential,” he said. “I believe that young Aboriginal people with low literacy levels and no computer skills are challenged as surely as people with disabilities here in southern Ontario when it comes to making their way in the world.”
Lieutenant Governor Onley is expanding the “enormously successful” programs with the establishment of a computer literacy program that will begin this fall: “The success of these programs will give young people skills that will allow them to decide whether to go into the world or stay in their communities while still connected to greater community outside their boundaries.” In addition to providing young people with opportunities and their schools and communities with resources, the programs demonstrate to northern Aboriginal residents that “Ontarians do care about their communities.”
- There were 37 Summer Reading Camps in 29 communities.
- 2300 young people took part.
- They read almost 11,000 books, about five books per child.
- The “Literacy through Digital Photography” module was expanded and a “Literacy through Art” module was offered for the first time.
- Club Amik, a book club for children, involved 6,000 children from kindergarten to grade 6.
- The Lieutenant Governor’s book drive delivered 50,000 new books.
GRAND CHIEF STAN BEARDY
Stan Beardy, the Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, thanked ETFO for its support of the lieutenant governor’s literacy initiatives.
“Supporting these initiatives helps to address the gross discrepancy in education,” he said. They “open doors” and “offer hope” to First Nations students.
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is made up of 49 fly-in communities in Ontario’s far north. These communities have “a strong vision for education” but face many challenges, Beardy told annual meeting delegates. First Nations leaders have to make “choices no other government is forced to consider,” he said, the choice between a quality education and culturally appropriate one. “We are often asked why we don’t send our children to provincial schools,” but doing so would mean sending them away from home and not providing an education “rooted in their own culture, traditions, and language.”
Fewer than 10 of the communities he represents are able to offer their students both elementary and secondary education. That means children as young as 13 have to leave home to go to high school. The lack of funding by the federal government is a major cause of the problem, he said. Schools lack many of the facilities southerners consider essential to providing an adequate education.
Beardy described some successful alternatives that communities have developed including an Internet-based high school, adult education provided by radio, and a curriculum, approved by the Ministry of Education, for teaching First Nations languages, traditions, and culture.
Inadequate funding for Aboriginal education is a long-standing issue. So is the fact that children have to leave home to be educated. In the last century First Nations children were forced to go to residential schools. As Bernice Greene's story, on page 16, makes clear, these schools were also severely underfunded.
- To protect the collective bargaining rights of all members
- To defend publicly funded public education
- To serve the needs of the membership
- To provide for the professional development of members
- To promote social justice in the areas of anti-poverty, non-violence, and equity
- To support international assistance and co-operation
- To promote the care and protection of the environment
- To actively engage members in the federation
- To promote and protect the health and safety of members.
ETFO members recognized for their contributions
Honorary Life Members
ETFO’s highest form of recognition, honorary life memberships, are awarded to retired members who have given outstanding service to the federation. Among the recipients this year are three former provincial presidents of the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO), the organization that represented women teachers before the formation of ETFO – Sheryl Hoshizaki, Maret Sädem Thompson, and Margaret Dempsey.
The 2010 award winners (from left) are: Bill Martin, long time ETFO staff member and former president of the Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation (a predecessor organization to ETFO) and OTF; Sheryl Hoshizaki; Barb Burkett, Ontario North East Teacher Local, former ETFO vice-president; Cathy (Smith) Hare, former Peel Teacher Local president; Wendy Van Straten, former York Region Teacher Local president; Margaret Dempsey; Lynda McDougall, Upper Grand Teacher Local, former ETFO executive member; Maret Sädem Thompson.
Martin Long, president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) Local, received the 2010 President’s Award. Long has been involved in the federation since he became a steward in 1977. He was elected ETT president in 2002 and served six years on the provincial executive. “Martin reminded us of our responsibility to the many diverse members of our federation and the students they teach,” said President Sam Hammond in presenting the award. “He promoted our active involvement in the broader labour movement.”
Hammond noted that Long has championed many causes in his local, the federation, and the community. “He will always be remembered as the one who pushed for an inquiry into the death of Dudley George, a First Nations activist who died at Ipperwash.”
Betty Knight, Peel
Humanitarian Award, ETFO Member
To mark her fiftieth birthday, Betty Knight decided to work with CAUSE Canada. She raised funds to renovate and expand a primary school in Sierra Leone. At her own expense she has twice taken learning and resource materials to the school, now known as the Knight School. She has trained staff and also students who assist them.
Humanitarian Award, Non-ETFO Member
Sue Diotte was nominated by ETFO members who are part of the Renfrew County ESP Local to recognize her work with high school students at Arnprior Secondary School. In 2001, after her 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, died in a car accident, Diotte set up the “Yellow Butterfly Fund” in her memory. It provides scholarships and computer equipment for students. Diotte also works with a variety of community and school organizations.
Amy McLaren, Grand Erie
Innovative Projects on Behalf of Children Living in Poverty
Amy McLaren helped found World Teacher Aid, which supports students and teachers in developing countries. In 2008, seeing an opportunity to connect this cause to curriculum, McLaren created “Write to Give” for students in grades 1 to 4. They work collaboratively to write and illustrate short stories that are then compiled into books. The books are sold to raise funds for World Teacher Aid and are used as reading materials for students abroad.
Women’s Municipal Campaign School Committee
Women Working in Social Activism on Behalf of Women and Children – WP
The Municipal Campaign School Committee of Waterloo has twice organized a campaign school for women wanting to break into municipal politics. In 2006, the first school attracted over 150 women, eight of whom ran successfully in the subsequent municipal election. This year 145 women attended the second school.
Carole Edgar, Peel Occasional Teacher Local
Occasional Teacher of the Year
Carole Edgar's work as an occasional teacher focuses on students with special needs. When Intermediate-level developmentally delayed students were moved to a secondary school, she fought for the right to continue to work with them, as she is qualified to teach up to grade 10. An OT for 30 years, Edgar worked for a year at INDEC, Peel’s program for independent education for students with challenges.
Krystyna Kazilis, York Region
New Teacher of the Year
As a first-year special education resource teacher, Krystyna Kazilis forged links with local professionals and agencies, including the Children’s Treatment Network (CTN). As a result she has been able to give teachers and parents the information they need to give students the appropriate help and direction.
Colin Wackett, York Region
Health and Safety Activist
Colin Wackett has served on numerous federation, board, and provincial health and safety committees. He has worked to ensure that teachers’ concerns are reflected in the board’s new health and safety procedures and policies. He has developed online health and safety information tools for members and has helped set up training.
ETFO staff members Jim White and Vivian McCaffrey were named Fellows of the OntarioTeachers’ Federation for 2010
Linda Baker, Rian McLaughlin, Nancy Purich, Barb Wallace,
Hamilton-Wentworth Occasional Teacher Local
Angie Bolt, Superior Greenstone
Christopher Dinsdale, York Region
Kim Haynes, Laurel Merriam, Carol Peterson, Betty-Anne Smith, Kim Strong, Kawartha Pine Ridge
Women Who Develop Special Projects in Science and Technology
Sue Irwin, Hamilton-Wentworth
Writer WP (unpublished)
Jacqueline Kelly, Niagara
Cecile Leach, Halton Occasional Teacher Local
Anthony Bruce Stodart, Elementary Teachers of Toronto
Newsletter Editor (multi-sheet)
Philip May, Rainbow
Arts and Culture
Anshu Paliwal, Peel Occasional Teacher Local
Local Website of the Year
Todd Rimmington, Niagara
Newsletter Editor (single-sheet)
WP indicates awards funded by ETFO’s Women’s Program. Unless otherwise indicated, recipients are members of teacher locals.
A list of ETFO scholarship and bursary recipients is available at etfo.ca > Being a Member > Member Services > Awards and Scholarships.
ETFO’s Awards Program
Information about deadlines, application forms, and awards criteria is available from
- Mark Fallis at provincial office; firstname.lastname@example.org
- our website – etfo.ca > Being a Member > Member Services > Awards and Scholarships.
Watch for the awards flyer on the ETFO bulletin board at your school.
ETFO Members recognized by Premier’s Awards for Teaching Excellence
Bryce Honsinger, Niagara Teacher Local, was honoured as Teacher of the Year A grade 5/6 teacher at Applewood Public School, he was a contributor to the ETFO resource Racism Hurts.
Michelle Jerzyk, Halton Teacher Local, was named New Teacher of the Year. She is a teacher at Sam Sherratt Public School, where her classes routinely have the highest participation rate in the Right To Play initiative.
Joyce Public School Team, Toronto Teachers and support staff at Joyce Public School were named the School Team of the Year. The ETFO mem- bers on the team are Sonia Callea, Brian Chandrapal, Rhea Perreira-Foyle, My-Linh Hang, Christopher Lee, Leon Lenchner, Farah Rahemtula, Shiva Sotoudeh, Michelle Holland-Spencer, Michele John Zentena. Joyce PS serves a highly diverse student population. The team has developed a series of literacy projects that emphasize digital technology and use the personal experiences and first languages of students and their parents.
Susan Read, Trillium Lakelands Teacher Local, has been named Volunteer of the Year for her seven-year involvement with the Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association.
Carla Pietersen, a long time ETFO/ FWTAO member, received the CTF Volunteer Recognition Award for her many years of involvement in international co-operation programs and her role as a trustee of the CTF Trust Fund.