Ontario teachers were sent reeling again last week! Ontario Minister of Education [MOE] Liz Sandals seems to be engaged in a little teacher bashing once again in our mainstream media. She publicly accused the teachers of misusing sick days. It was an especially low blow. It comes as many teacher units across the province are still struggling under the MOE's "new and improved" CB Act to reach fair and meaningful local contract agreements with their often intransigent boards. News story @ Intelligencer
So insulting and demeaning were the MOES comments to our province's teachers that ETFO and OSSTF have formally requested an apology from her. As noted, in my Teacher Free Speech April News + Views [BLOG], OECTA, the Catholic teacher union, was not named among the complainants. More @ Globe
But wait! The plot thickens! We've since learnt that MOE Sandal's inflammatory, anti-teacher remarks were based upon a "secret report" from the mysterious "School Boards Co-operative Inc" [SBCI] which she still hasn't seen fit to release. Moreover, it seems Liz hadn't even read the "secret report" before she used it!
A recent Globe + Mail news article, reporting what little is known, obtained OECTA President Ann Hawkin's letter. It has been publicly circulating on the internet and is reprinted for your erudition below. It explains that MOE Sandals has apologized to the Catholic teachers for her sick day statements and elaborates on the sticky question's of the SBCI's "secret report". The text is below. The news report's @ Globe
As you are no doubt aware, last week Education Minister Liz Sandals commented on a Globe and Mail article, which cited a report by School Boards’ Co-operative Inc. (SBCI), about a perceived increase in teacher absenteeism. Like many of you, I found the Minister’s comments to be inappropriate. Ontario teachers are dedicated professionals, and the Minister’s insinuation that teachers are abusing sick leave provisions is unfounded. The comments demonstrated a lack of respect; certainly, the Minister is aware of the tireless efforts of OECTA members, who consistently work to ensure they provide the highest quality education to Ontario students.
In response, I spoke with the Minister to raise the serious concerns shared by all OECTA members. The Minister acknowledged that her comments were insensitive, and she expressed to me her sincere regret. The Minister also assured me that she does not believe teachers are abusing the sick leave policy in any way.
The Minister agreed that the SBCI report, and the way it has been reported, is misleading. The Minister also expressed frustration that SBCI has refused to provide the Minister’s office with any data or methodological information that would allow the Ministry to assess the report’s claims. Without SBCI releasing the data and explaining its methodology, there is no way to verify that absences due to sick leave have increased. Regardless, it is both speculative and inflammatory to say that any possible increase is due to changes to sick leave provisions.
I remain concerned that companies such as SBCI, which market attendance management programs and have a vested interest in making teacher absences an issue, have been allowed to frame the public debate. This is especially problematic while collective bargaining is ongoing. I am also disappointed that the Minister and public were so quick to accept the idea that Ontario teachers would abuse sick leave provisions.
While I am thankful that the Minister has acknowledged her mistake, I will continue to promote the integrity of Catholic teachers, and press for more rigorous oversight of the activities of companies such as SBCI.
Ann Hawkins/ President
So .... What did you think of OSSTF's "Charter"?
One winces at the MOE's ongoing teacher union divide and conquer strategy! Who's in the OLP's good books now? Suppose an apology to the province's public school teachers at ETFO + OSSTF will follow .....?
MOE back door apologies between government and our leadership elites, who then share it as they see fit with the teacher membership, to me, is like back room deals. For an open, transparent, member focused union movement -it's very suspect and it sucks!
Government directed teacher bashing, based upon "secret reports", is highly inappropriate, unprofessional, hostile and counter to good governance. The MOE is long overdue for a Cabinet Minister shuffle. Education Minister Liz Sandals should publicly apologize DIRECTLY to ALL of the province's TEACHERS and step down immediately. But what's more likely? To save face, watch Premier Wynne tactfully shuffle Liz's deck chair on the OLP Titanic elsewhere in the much anticipated larger cabinet overhaul ahead!
On Teacher Free Speech + Grass Root Renewal @ Here!
On OSSTF's Charter of Public Education in Ontario @ Here!
On OECTA: Manufacturing Consent @ Here!
On Why You Need A Good Teacher Union @ There!