Ontario's elementary teachers ramping up job action
Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond. (ERNEST DOROSZUK, Toronto Sun)
Training for the new sex-education curriculum and autism therapy are on the union’s naughty list as the province’s public elementary teachers get set to escalate job action.
A Bargaining Bulletin issued to members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Monday says that effective June 1, teachers will not participate in a number of tasks, in addition to those duties already withdrawn during the current work-to-rule campaign.
Teachers are being told not to participate in new curriculum training, including the controversial new sex-ed program that is to be launched in all schools this fall.
Training and workshops for Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), a program provided to children with autism, have also been put on ETFO’s no-go list.
The move comes as collective bargaining with the major teacher unions continues to flounder.
Education Minister Liz Sandals said ETFO claims that its work-to-rule campaign is against school boards and the provincial government.
“This is hurting children,” Sandals said Tuesday. “And I really am quite appalled that they would refuse to participate in promotion meetings, the sort of meetings where you talk about arranging what support a child that’s leaving your classroom ... a special needs child, what support are they going to need. This is really hitting at kids.”
Sandals rejected the idea of pausing the implementation of the new sex-ed curriculum even though not all teachers will have received training on it.
The ministry has completed regional and board level training on the curriculum and will put supportive documents online for teachers, she said.
Sandals downplayed concerns that the province is heading for a full strike in its Catholic and public elementary and secondary school boards in the fall.
“We have three months to bargain, we have three months to find solutions,” she said.
ETFO president Sam Hammond would not confirm the enhanced job action.
“I can indicate that there has been no movement at all on the part of the government and OPSBA (the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association) to contact ETFO or to recommence bargaining,” Hammond said. “Despite the fact that our ETFO collective agreements expired nine months ago, OPSBA and the Liberal government do not seem interested in reaching a reasonable and fair collective agreement with ETFO.”
ETFO advised its members to not complete any paperwork to the ministry for special grants or funding with the exception of applications on behalf of students with special needs.
Teachers are also told not to participate in preparation or completion of Grade 8 to Grade 9 Transition Reports, any grade to grade transition meetings or in-school meetings, or professional learning activities on the end-of-the-year PA Day.
“Instead, teachers and OTs (occasional teachers) will use this time for their own self-directed activities within the classroom/school,” the bulletin dated May 25 says.
No field trips should be booked for the 2015-16 instructional year, the memo says.
Elementary teachers are still participating in extracurricular programs and providing student marks for report cards, although ETFO told members not to provide comments.