Opening Statement



Wednesday, 11 November 2015

TCDSB at 35% -A Failing Grade!

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Wheeeee! TCDSB academic standards + teacher respect take a tumble!!!

Our latest school board trustee gaffe comes from Toronto. We learn that the TCDSB secondary teachers received a startling board communique; their mid-semester or partial term reports shouldn't contain a mark less than 35%!  OECTA TSU President Dave Szollosy points out that’s contrary to the intent of the MOE’s “Growing Success” document. When "minimum marks" are concerned, it states;
“Individual boards will work collaboratively with their school communities to determine the lower limit of the range of percentage marks below 50 per cent that teachers may record on the report cards of students in Grades 9 to 12. It is important that a consistent approach is adopted among all the schools of a board.”
No, the TCDSB isn't working "collaboratively with their school community". They've excluded the OECTA TSU teachers whom must assign the 35% grade! The Catholic trustees' top down, unilateral decision also violates their Collective Agreement! "Consultation" is a seemingly alien term to the board. Once again, they haven't made a proper effort! It's nothing new! Regretfully, we also recall the TCDSB’s astonishing failure to consult with all 7 of it’s member unions before the drastic program and job cuts last spring, as they inexplicably jumped the gun to "fix" a sudden, surprise budgeting error and miscalculation or two. [LINK][LINK]

TSU sounds totally fed up and are quite rightfully filing a grievance. Dave Szollosy expresses concern that the TCDSB has questionably pulled rank again, rather than confer with and show some respect for the teachers professional judgement in assigning marks for the students. As Dave explains;
“We are extremely disappointed that the Board has decided to dictate policy without respecting teacher professional judgement for curriculum integrity.”
In their divine wisdom, the Catholic trustees are not only pulling another power trip over the teachers. They are also quite arguably dumbing down the integrity of the board's academic standards, by now freely awarding 35% to students who haven’t even done the work or shown up regularly for class!

As teachers know, at school, like in life, we learn from both success and failure. A fair and credible marking system should be a common expectation for truly concerned educators, parents and students alike. It provides reliable feedback to help measure both a student's abilities and needs in order to help them make real progress. 

Is there even more to this then meets they eye? It's interesting that 35% has also been the minimum mark needed to attend summer school at the TCDSB for a quick, make up course. Anything less and a student needs to, God forbid, repeat the whole class again during the regular, full time, school calendar year! Teacher professionals hardly want to be the bearer of bad news -far from it! However, a bad grade shows that long term effort, participation and commitment are strongly needed to meet with long term success when dealing with hard work! The new minimum mark of 35% isn't a consolation prize that the school board should be handing out so freely!



So what's next? You thought 25% was too low to start with? If the TCDSB is now handing out marks like candy, can it be very long before everybody is just guaranteed their lowest mark will be 50%? Or even 75%? Then why not just give everyone a 100%? The tragic demise of the once highly revered academic standards of excellence at this Catholic board truly boggle the mind!

TSU is quite right to file a grievance but does the TCDSB even care? It's a sad day when consultation, collaboration and respect for both teacher professional judgement and academic standards are clearly not serious concerns at the TCDSB anymore, as witnessed by this latest debacle! 

Regretfully, TSU teachers are now forced into a very difficult situation. It's certainly not of their own choosing, in more ways than one. It must be devastating to see such blatant disregard for your professional integrity. Also, as OCT [Ontario College of Teacher] members they face a horrible legal risk that could destroy their career! For as President Szollosy reminds the unit members;
"It would be very prudent for teachers to communicate with parents and students to inform them of what the actual mark the student has earned to this point.  This would at least protect teachers from being accused of misrepresenting the important mark information on an official ministry document while not being vulnerable to accusations of insubordination."
In short, OECTA TSU teachers are damned if they do and damned if they don't hand out to the students a mark of at least 35%! It doesn't matter whether they follow this latest misguided board decree, or refuse to go along with it on principle! Either way, they could end up in really, big trouble! 

That is very regretful. It shows disrespect for the TSU teachers' professional judgement and the TCDSB's board wide academic integrity alike. The TCDSB is a school board that once cherished and was respected for it's high standards. It has tragically now earned a failing grade for itself, due to the trustees lack of due process and diligence! 

Let's hope the rest of Ontario's teachers, parents and students don't soon find their own school board also mimicking the TCDSB's ill advised power play. A lack of proper consultation, a disrespect for teacher professional judgement and padded student marks are not the way forward our province's world class school system should be tempted to go!

COMMENTS:

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Etfo's contract http://www.etfocb.ca/pdf/HIGHLIGHTS-Tentative-Agreement-Nov-4-2015.pdf

Anonymous said...

Halton Catholic teachers are being asked by a ministry initiative to collect data about students asking for each student's height and each student's weight.

No form note explaining this to parents, nothing.

What does a student's weight have to do with teaching?

Is student weight going on the report card next?

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised by anything this joke we call a Ministry of Education does anymore. Can't wait to retire. My youngest child is now attending private school also!!

Anonymous said...

I will retire next June and that's exciting. I would not recommend this career anymore. When looking at the ETFO contract which 86% of the sheep, I mean members okayed, it appears as though we gave more to the government in every area. We didn't even get a COLA. Police, firefighters, hydro workers, principals all got hefty increases. Three days ago our government magically came up with 500 million dollars for school infrastructure improvements. I pine for the days of militancy in the 1990's. Could you have ever imagined that our benefits would now be managed by our government and our non transparent union. All sheep should be ready to pay more out of pocket for health and dental. Baaaaa!

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