The Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) offer to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) looks very generous in terms of preparation time. However, what the OPSBA giveth with one hand, it taketh away in the other. It is offering teachers an extra 50 minutes of prep. time every week. However, teachers will be require to be in the classroom supervising students an extra 20 minutes per day or 100 minutes per week. For the teachers, that is a loss of 50 minutes of time per week.
If teachers are required to be in the classroom 15 minutes before class instruction starts in the morning and 5 minutes before afternoon instruction, I'm guessing that the OPSBA wants to put student outwear removal (jackets, boots, etc.), O Canada, and announcements before the formal instructional day. Currently, the school bell rings. Students take off their jackets, stand for O Canada, and listen to the announcements. This whole procedure takes about ten to 15 minutes which takes away from instructional and learning time. The same thing happens in the afternoon for about five minutes, but without O Canada and the announcements. In the morning, instead of students waiting for the bell to ring before they enter the school, they will be invited to come in fifteen minutes before formal instruction starts. T minus five or ten minutes, O Canada and the announcments will occur. Formal instruction will start soon after. The boards gain student instructional time without the financial costs. The 12% pay increase that the boards had offered looked like a bonanza for the teachers. However, with 50 minutes per week extra that teachers need to be with the students, the pay increase seems less substantial.
Another benefit for the boards is that teachers can be moved from early morning to lunchtime supervision. This means that the boards do not have to hire as many lunchtime assistants who come into the school for one hour per day and earn their $10.00. Ten dollars does not seem like much. However, multiply that my thousands of lunch assistants by 190 to 198 days, that is a lot of money saved.
Why would the English Catholic, French Catholic and public, and secondary teachers' unions agree to similar agreements offered by their school boards? Apparently, I have heard that they have clauses in their agreements that if another union gets a better agreement, then they will get the same. Essentially, ETFO is being the surrogate union for all non-public elementary teachers. ETFO will get all the blame if anything goes bad while the all the other teachers' unions and their teachers will get the rewards. I would rather see public elementary teachers work under their existing but expired contract rather than work under the OPSBA's proposal.
[Section]10. The Parties agree that preparation time for a full-time teacher currently eligible for preparation time shall be increased as follows:
September 1, 2008 200 minutes per cycle of five instructional days
September 1, 2009 210 minutes per cycle of five instructional days
September 1, 2010 220 minutes per cycle of five instructional days
September 1, 2011 230 minutes per cycle of five instructional days
August 31, 2012 250 minutes per cycle of five instructional days
[In section 14.]
As required under Regulation 298, unless otherwise assigned by the Principal, teachers shall be in their classroom or other location where their students congregate for purposes of instruction 15 minutes before the beginning of morning classes and 5 minutes before the beginning of afternoon classes. During this time the teacher shall be engaged in teacher-related duties and shall be readily accessible to students. This time shall not count as scheduled supervision time for the purposes of calculating the 80-minute cap."