Whether the acronym is ECE, which stands for “Early Childhood Educator” or ELE “Early Learning Educator,” those individuals who are trained to teach children under the age of five are going to be the glue that holds the new Ontario early learning program (ELP) or full-day JK/SK program together.
So, it is interesting that up until the ELP was approved by the Ontario McGuinty government, ETFO went out of its way to suggest that only teachers with elementary qualifications (ETFO’s current member group) should be in charge of the full-day JK/SK in order to facilitate the transition to regular school.
In fact, that was the rationale the government gave when it announced that its new full day ELP would be staff by “qualified” teachers all day long, with ECE qualified individuals providing back-up for part of the day — but always under the jurisdiction of the teacher.
So, it is puzzling now that ETFO has mounted a serious campaign to suggest they would be the best union to represent ECE staff, particularly since CUPE currently covers most, if not all, public sector childcare workers.
In other words, I have major concerns about the same union representing both qualified elementary school teachers and ECE staff. I mean, clearly when push comes to shove, would not ETFO favour its first priority and mandate, and that is the interests of elementary school teachers? If so, there is the potential for a serious conflict of interest for those who are early childhood specialists.
Surely something for those with ECE qualifications to think about.