Thursday, December 11, 2008

OPSBA, ETFO, and O Canada

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.

Via Toronto Star: the OPBSA proposal to ETFO:

[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."


Anonymous said...

No, OPSBA pretty much only taketh away. The extra prep. time is not really prep. time as it would be time the teachers were forced to work on yet another NEW initiative of the board instead of getting things done for their own classroom. You're right, however, about avoiding the cost for extra supervision. You're wrong in assuming starting opening exercises can happen before the bell. That would be impossible as some students don't arrive until the bell and can't be told to do so.

Unknown said...

Not only does OPSBA take away, but when you compare the difference between elementary teachers' contracts and secondary teachers' contracts, it's scary! I outlined only 4 in a recent post.
Under OPSBA's proposals, grade seven and eight teachers could be expected to work from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. without a break to pee or have a coffee. Before people start sneering, remember that this is on your feet, completely responsible for the safety and well-being of the children you are teaching or supervising, constantly in motion, teaching, helping, consoling, reprimanding, always choosing your words and actions judiciously lest you offend or be suspected of offending anyone. This is, of course after preparing for the morning.
Remember that premenopausal women with periods may need to visit the washroom frequently, that aging backs and bladders, arthritic feet, diabetic and migraine prone bodies may need brief breaks to get through the day. How many professionals live this way on a daily basis?

Skinny Dipper said...

I stand corrected that O'Canada would start before the bell. I do believe that they would start immediately after the bell since the students would already be in the classroom.

Thanks, Diane for your comment. I cannot imagine what a woman has to go through during the school day. I do know that in the newer schools, there are co-ed single occupany washrooms in the staffrooms. In the older schools, there may be two multiple occupancy washrooms for men and women where the doors open into the school hallway. Women waiting to use the washroom got so bad in one school that the the school converted the men's washroom into a co-ed one with a lock placed on the inside so that only one man or woman can use the co-ed washroom at a time. This did help the women, but made life a little more difficult for me.

Aside from washroom use, there have been days where I have worked constantly in the morning without a break. This includes performing a 30 minute recess duty and immediately teaching until lunchtime. I shouldn't forget handing out pizzas on Pizza Day. Sometimes, I like to start with "Jonathan Zimmerman" instead of "Albert Angus" when handing out the zaas. With a modified schedule, morning classes consists of 2/3 of the school day.

Anonymous said...

With regard to this supervision "thing"...
I sympathize completely Diane, and with the crazy schedule that arises when you AM have recess duty, and then you have to pile on top of it another 15 minutes of "on call" time to have students in your room before the bell. On those days, it is hard to get up from the table after lunch 'cause you're so tired. It seems ludicrous.

However, ETFO seems to want to bang its head against the wall. The education act, as quoted in this post, says:
"A teacher shall-
d) unless otherwise assigned by the principal, be present in the classroom or teaching area and ensure that the classroom or teaching area is ready for the reception of pupils at least fifteen minutes before the commencement of classes in the school in the morning and, where applicable, five minutes before the commencement of classes in the school in the afternoon;

...legislation is changed by our elected representatives in the process of government, not by collective bargaining. We look foolish to pretend otherwise.

That's my only point.