McGuinty govt policies created conditions for College of Teachers secrecy

We learned recently, in an explosive Toronto Star article by Kevin Donovan, (H/T newswatchcanada.ca) that the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) is allowing the bad behaviour of some teachers to remain a secret from parents and the general public — even when those teachers have pleaded guilty to sexual and physical abuse. Clearly, that is the opposite of the public accountability and disclosure that the OCT was supposed to guarantee.

The result of such secrecy is, of course, that the only people who benefit are the teachers accused and later disciplined. Meaning, that the safety and comfort of the students, and the rights of parents, seem to count for nothing.  And, as a former teacher and teacher educator, I have to tell you, hearing things like this is very disappointing.


How could the lack of public trust happen?

So, how could something like this type of dysfunction happen to an organization that is responsible for the licensing and disciplinary action of the teaching profession, as well as standards of teaching practice? Well, I suspect, it happened very gradually and likely not with the intention of breaking the public trust.  But, break the trust they have — in spades!

Changes to the OCT Council Began in 2004:

First, we need put the blame right at the core of the McGuinty government. Sure, the Cabinet and bureaucrats might not have known about specific College policies and day-to-day operations, but they had to have known about the secrecy and keeping names anonymous because that information is published regularly in the OCT magazine, “Professionally Speaking,” as well as on the OCT website. Meaning that the McGuinty government, from 2003-2007, can be held totally responsible for the non-publishing of names, or in some cases, even about the hearings, because they had to have known what was going on.

For example, if you look at the link to the OCT disciplinary summaries on their website that do not identify the name of the teacher, scroll the page. You will find that prior to 2003/04 there were only a few unidentified summaries a year. However, starting in 2005, the anonymous entries increased significantly — the exact dates that coincide with the amendment the first McGuinty government made to the Ontario College of Teachers Act in 2004. Coincidence?

The timeline for the change began with then Education Minister Gerard Kennedy released a paper titled “Revitalizing the Ontario College of Teachers.” Following that, the OCT Council set up an Ad Hoc Committee whose recommendations eventually brought about amendments to the Ontario College of Teachers Act. Those amendments resulted in several more teachers being elected.  Seventeen out of 31 had been elected prior to the amendments compared to 23 out of 37 now. Meaning, the first McGuinty government voted for the amendments allowing the teachers on the OCT governing council to have a clear majority.

Elements of OCT Self-governance:

Now, self-governance by itself does not account for the secrecy and lack of public accountability we can read about in the Star article.  I mean there is nothing essentially wrong with teachers supervising their profession. However, what is wrong is the fact that the teachers’ unions are very much pulling the strings at the governing council disciplinary hearing level and, as is public knowledge, too often those very same unions support bad teachers. And, from what Donovan writes, they don’t mind using intimidation to keep disciplinary hearing members in line. 

In fact, teacher union involvement started right back in the beginning in 1996/97, when the first annual election took place for the OCT governing council. Teachers had to be nominated to run for the then few self-governing positions. I know, because my husband was nominated as one of the regional candidates. 

However, shortly before those first mail-in ballots were submitted, the teachers’ unions sent out a “list” of pre-approved candidates that they asked teachers to vote for as a slate. Of course, no one forced anyone to vote for the names on the list. And, no doubt the unions would simply say that the names were only suggestions.  But, unfortunately, the outcome was exactly as the unions hoped because every single name from the union slate got elected that year, and for many years after. In fact, I have no doubt, a similar annual OCT Council candidates election “list”continues to this day.

Teacher union involvement the problem:

Anyway, my point is that the union involvement, no matter how indirectly, is a conflict of interest and opens the door to allegations of corruption! I mean, how can a so-called independent body judge its own peers? Well, there might be some who would argue that is the way it should be, professionals judging professionals. That might be true if the unions were not pulling the strings and pulling the strings, they certainly are.

For example, the Star writer says that “most teachers on disciplinary panels were previously members of a local bargaining unit of a teachers’ union.” Meaning, that there is a direct connection between the unions and the OCT and discipline.

Is it any wonder, then, that the very same unions are running multi-million dollar campaigns to get the McGuinty Liberals re-elected? They like the status quo.

Anyway, read the Star article in full. This story needs to get out to every single Ontario household. It should also be a wake up call for those teachers still practising that are not union activists.

C/P at Jack’s Newswatch.

Endnote 1: Here is a follow-up article by the Star’s Donovan about how Jacques Tremblay, a teacher who precides over the OCT disciplinary committee, wrote an alleged soft porn book for teens called “The Sexteens and the Fake Goddess.” Unbelievable!  Yet, all Tremblay says is that his writing is separate from his job and his OCT duties. Well hello? When you are teacher, everything you do reflects on your role. Unbelievable! (H/T newswatchcanada.ca)

Endnote 2: Well, it seems that Mr. Tremblay has resigned from his position as Chair of the OCT Disciplinary Committee and as a member of the governing Council — so as not to affect public confidence in the OCT. Well, it is a bit late for that already given Donovan’s expose. (H/T Blue Like You).

Endnote 3: Even Chris Selley of the National Post has something to say on this topic.

33 thoughts on “McGuinty govt policies created conditions for College of Teachers secrecy

  1. Here is exactly how the McGuinty gov’t “changed” the OCOT. I believe this might also have been a portion of the points for the paper they used to seek input from the public.

    Also, Dave Cooke for NDP Minister of Education who in the Royal Commission recommendations I believe, actually recommended a professional body like the OCOT be set up in Ontario made it clear that there would be a good representation of ordinary citizens on the board.

    I remember that even Cooke was against what McGuinty did.

    http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/partnership/revitalizing.htm

    this is a chart by ETFO – bottom right of first page identifies that McGuinty gave teachers the majority on OCOT

    http://www.ocetf.ca/media/39939/track_records_of_three_parties.pdf

    Might also be a good idea for the PC war room to research this but, I seem to recall that McGuinty, when in opposition was against the OCOT.

    Also, groups like People for Education were very much behind the move McGuinty made and were quite vocal about it then.

    Like

  2. Thanks for the links Catherine. My article was already long so I didn’t add that it was the Harris government who implemented what had been a Royal Commission on Learning recommendation — the NDP commission overseen by Dave Cooke. For those who want a look at the original 1996 legislation, here it is.

    Like

  3. Catherine — Funny that I cannot get either of your links at 7:56am to work. Could be that the files were removed this morning.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Winners & losers in McGuinty’s Ontario | Blue Like You

  5. You’re right Sandy. The MInistry page had conveniently disappeared. Cowards and desperation at work.

    The other link still works. Here’s what the chart has to say about what McGuinty did according to the ocetf

    “- Reformed the Ontario
    College of Teachers by giving
    classroom teachers majority
    representation on the
    governing council”

    Like

  6. McGuinty can run from the truth, but he can’t hide it. – I was a member of our board’s SEAC when all of this was going down and this report was presented and includes McGuinty’s “plans” for the OCOT that remain to this day. Busted!

    http://www.ldao.ca/documents/SEAC/Student%20Performance%20Bill%20passes%20Jun%2006.pdf

    “The Ontario College of Teachers as a True Professional Body
    The McGuinty government believes it is time to revitalize and
    depoliticize the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) as a true professional
    body. Teachers deserve the privilege of self-regulation. The benefits of a
    successful College to Ontario students should be obvious: highly skilled,
    motivated teachers who are held in high regard by the public at large.
    The amendments to the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996, change the
    governance structure of the OCT to depoliticize the College and, along with
    complementary amendments to the College regulations, have a majority of
    classroom teachers on its council. In return for teachers having the privilege
    and responsibility of self-regulation, we are strengthening the College’s duty
    to serve the public interest.
    Changes resulting from the amendments to the Act and the regulations
    include:
    – Adding six elected teacher positions to the OCT’s Council –
    normalizing the College by having self-regulation by the
    professionals it represents
    – Ensuring that all teacher representatives on the Council are working
    classroom teachers
    – Establishing provisions that would prohibit Council membership for
    representatives of specific organizations
    – Creating a new Public Interest Committee of non-OCT members to
    advise the College Council on matters relating to the Council’s duty
    to serve the public interest
    – Every Council member having a duty to serve and protect the public
    interest, and before taking up office, swear an oath
    – Reducing the maximum number of years that a member can serve on
    Council from ten to seven consecutive years, increasing turnover and
    bringing new and different ideas and perspectives
    – Ensuring an open, fair and transparent elections process that will
    increase voter participation and encourage teachers to play an
    active part in the governance and regulation of their profession
    – Affirming the College’s duty to ensure its registration process is
    fair and transparent.
    These measures are among the strongest conflict of interest provisions of
    any professional college in Ontario and none of them existed under the
    previous government.
    Under the previous government, the College of Teachers was unduly
    politicized – with negative results. In the last College election, a mere four
    per cent of teachers bothered to cast a vote, the second consecutive decline
    in voter turnout, indicating a profound loss of confidence by teachers
    themselves in the College.
    These amendments support the government’s “Excellence for All” commitment
    to “turn the Ontario College of Teachers into a professional body that sets the highest standards for the profession and earns the respect of teachers and parents.”

    Like

  7. Also see Hansard for the public accounting of the public consultations held on the Bill that would see the changes to the OCOT – if you scroll down you will read about some opposition to the changes but you’ll also clearly see that those who stand to benefit MOST from the changes – teachers, teacher unions and pet parent groups favour McGuinty’s changes.

    http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/committee-proceedings/committee_transcripts_details.do?locale=en&BillID=389&ParlCommID=7430&Date=2006-05-08&Business=Bill+78%2C+Education+Statute+Law+Amendment+Act+%28Student+Performance%29%2C+2006&DocumentID=20384#P221_47970

    Like

  8. Thanks Catherine for all these links. I am amazed that they didn’t end up in the spam filter. Glad they didn’t because I have been out.

    Like

  9. Busted is right. I have also tweeted Tim Hudak on this. I am not sure he can say much this close to an election. It is perhaps enough that he announced yesterday, that if the PCs get a majority, one of the first things they will do is freeze all Ontario public sector wages. That will give him a lot of votes I expect. However, remember 1995 to 1999 and Greece now. Take away the goodies and the screaming starts. Well, Ontarians are going to have to get some back bone and ignore the screaming. Because if there is no screaming, the silence and appeasement can be very expensive.

    Like

  10. So the Ministry page disappeared. Well, I will explain how pingbacks work and readers can make up their own minds. I clearly saw the Ontario government page Catherine posted earlier today. However, when I went back a short time later it was gone. Now, what proves to me is that gremlins are working on a Saturday in the MOE because as soon as a URL is posted here, the end link gets an e-mail acknowledging a “pingback” has been received. Which means, the Ontario gov’t didn’t want my readers, or anyone else for that matter, to see what I was writing about. Now that involves even more secrecy doesn’t it? What do the Liberals have to fear from the truth?

    Like

  11. Pingback: Sandy: Another McGuinty gov’t folly & why they need the boot | Jack's Newswatch

  12. Of course teachers are the majority on the college. It is the College of Teachers. Doctors are the majority on the OCPS, lawyers are the majority on the LSUC.

    There are no more wayward teachers than any other profession.

    Like

  13. Of course the teachers have a slate of candidates for the election. They have a slate for trustee and provincial elections as well. Totally democratic.

    Like

  14. Yes, I know they have a slate for trustees but the entire population of an area gets to vote. With the College, only those get elected. Teachers talk about peer pressure to their students and then they go and vote secretly exactly as they were instructed. Pitiful.

    Like

  15. One othe rthing Doug, teachers are doing a lot of talking these days about bullying. Yet, they allow the bullying and intimidation by union officials and school union “stewards” to shut up those teachers who are brave enough to speak up. In act, the Donovan article makes it very clear what happened to one fellow. They virtually destroyed him because he dared to tell the truth. Solidarity is fine when it is based on conviction rather than the fear of shunning or worse. And, you and I know exactly what I am talking about.

    Like

  16. Doug — You say “totally demoractic!” Well, not in my book. Not when the rank and file are told who to vote for. Sounds more like Russia’s style of democracy. Here’s your choice. Vote for them.

    Like

  17. Wishful thinking Doug — The problem with the College’s Council is the teacher members were all pre-approved by their unions. Plus, there are union activists on disciplinary boards. And, given there are so many unidentified after their hearings, means the rot goes from the bottom up. Lawyers don’t have the same process. Doctors too are often unaccountable as we all know. The very fact that you don’t see anything wrong with what is going on there tells me more about your union involvement than your concern for kids. Like sheep to the slaughter. When the unions say jump, you say “how high?” You sound just like those union protestors in Greece. That is not representative of the old federations I was totally involved with — as FW school rep for years. I knew once they amalgated with OPS into ETFO, the aggressive militancy would result and unfortunately I was right.

    Like

  18. Democratic in the sense of elections means it is “within the rules” same as Working Families Coalition it is “within the rules” as they have been laid out and examined.

    Mr Hudak does not like some of it. Maybe he can change it if he is premier but “telling teachers they cannot be the majority on the ‘College of Teachers'” creates nothing but contempt among teachers for the college. They would vote 90% to disband it tomorrow as it is.

    It is not the College of Other People to discipline teachers it is the “College of Teachers”

    Like

  19. Doug — You still don’t get it. The teachers have proven they are unable to manage themselves without union involvement. Make the vote open, no slate and then we can talk. In the meantime, I would like to know what the percentage is of those teachers who actually vote in the annual OCT elections — because my bet it is very low. After the first go-around, neither my husband or I bothered to nomkinate anyone or vote because we know it was pointless.

    Follow the link on the OCT site, as I suggested in my update. The increase in unnamed teachers started to increase just as soon as the numbers of the rank and file on the Council. The College is dysfunctional at best, corrupt at worst.

    Like

  20. This is like telling the 3 parties in Ontario, “who needs parties, just run as individuals”

    The provincial political leaders where very disturbed by the fact that the federations just kept heaping scorn on the OTC, why expensive building @Church and Yonge, why expensive receptions, and so on. They asked what the federations needed in order to accept the OCT. The answer was “control of it” with a teacher majority.

    If it were up to me I would restrict it to classroom only teachers in the publically funded systems, to private, no supers or principals.

    Like

  21. Doug —

    Unions are not political parties even if they think they are. They have a vested interest. Nothing wrong with that but they need to be able to look at their mandate and it doesn’t include public oversight.

    There is an old saying. The proof is in the making of the pudding or something to that effect. Teachers having a majority have proven they can’t do oversight of their profession in a way that is in the public interest.

    So, what I am suggesting is that the unions should stay completely out of the licensing and disciplinary process.

    Re voting for Council members, it take one heck of a lot of votes to win. I know because my husband was once nominated. So, let the candidates run campaigns, put up websites or whatever. I also agree that no supers or principals need be included, unless they still teach part of the time in the classroom. What I would like to see in the make-up of the Council is the balance that used to be there. Because, even before the amendment to the legislation, teachers outnumbered the appointees, not counting the private, super, etc.

    As far as private reps, I think one elected member should be there if their school contributes to the pension board AND their teachers are licenced by the College.

    In other words, control should be with the College itself, not the federations/unions. I mean there is a clear conflict of interest there. I remember when I was an FW school rep, I was involved in developing PD days. I could see a conflict of interest then but it was manageable. But, definitely not in the situation. It is clearly incestuous.

    Like

  22. Catherine — Read todays follow-up by the Star’s Donovan here. Unbelievable and the man in question heads the disciplinary committee. I’m going to add the link as an another update.

    Like

  23. No, unions are not political parties but they do take ownership of the party they can most manipulate to give them anything they demand no questions asked. In fact the present Federal majority government should introduce legislation preventing it, making it illegal to support any political party. More outrageous is the unions taking money from their membership coffers to pass on to a particular party of Boss Hog’s choice.

    Like

  24. Agree LIz J. I was going to put up a post today and decided not to. Ontario voters are going to have to live with their choice, no matter what that is. My hope still, at this late hour so to speak, is that the PCs will come up the middle and get a majority. How small that majority is doesn’t matter, just that it is a majority. Like you, I simply can’t understand how anyone can vote again for McGuinty knowing how his government is destroying Ontario. And, another NDP gov’t is unfathomable given how jobs and investment would flee the province with corporate tax increases and unfriendly policies towards business.

    My family and I have already voted so I would strongly encourage every other Ontarian who stops by today to do the same tomorrow.

    Many in the Ontario media and pollsters have much to answer for given their interference in all the recent election campaigns.

    Like

  25. Pingback: Day before E-Day | Blue Like You

  26. Well, well, well. I just checked out BLY and Jacques Tremblay, the Chair of the OCT Discipline Committee who wrote the controversial teen book resigned from his post today so as not to affect confidence in the OCT. What confidence? Check it out here. I’ll also be adding the link to my post with a H/T to Joanne.

    Like

  27. Thanks Sandy.

    I have to ask how much Ontarians are willing to stomach before they finally say “Enough!”.

    I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

    I don’t see any checks & balances in the school system; especially in Toronto.

    Like

  28. Yes indeed we’ll find out tomorrow Joanne. I still am holding out for a slight majority given how wrong the media and pollsters were about Rob Ford’s election. We’ll know in 24 hours. Then, like you, I plan to take some time off from blogging.

    Like

  29. While my post today is not about the College of Teachers, it is about government policy indirectly. Why is it that elementary and secondary teachers and their unions say they can’t do a regular report card in October or give students real grades, when universities have first year mid terms — and students are failing and dropping out. Meaning,universities are having to come with strategies and programs that are the direct result of public system failures. See that post here.

    Like

Comments are closed.