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.