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FROM THE GENERAL SECRETARY S


ETFO WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR THE PUBLIC EDUCATION STUDENTS DESERVE


ince the fall, ETFO has been working to respond to govern- ment consultations on edu- cation. At the same time, we have been planning our own mobilization and engagement


efforts, working in solidarity with parents and other allies, and doing the important day-to-day work of the federation – work- shops, conferences and services to members. ETFO has been outspoken about the impor- tance of maintaining the current model for Full-Day Kindergarten that includes a teacher and early childhood educator and recognizes the unique contributions each makes to the classroom. We have continued to advocate for increasing investment in public education and maintaining caps on class size. Educators, along with other experts in the fi eld, identify small classes as the most important factor in an educator’s ability to work effectively with students and meet their diverse needs. ETFO has responded to the many Ministry


of Education consultations that have occurred over the past six months. Most recently, we re- sponded to the government’s proposals to re- move class size caps in elementary classrooms and to modify Regulation 274. Regulation 274 provides a fair, consistent


and transparent hiring process for long-term occasional (LTO) and permanent teaching positions. The regulation ensures a fair and predictable pathway to long-term and per- manent employment in Ontario’s public school boards for qualifi ed teachers. Regula- tion 274 is an effective deterrent to favourit- ism in the hiring process for teachers. Learn more about Regulation 274 at etfo.ca. In addition to the consultation submis-


sions, ETFO set up an online action to protect smaller class sizes at BuildingBetterSchools. ca. Almost 80,000 people (parents, educators and other community members) responded by writing to their MPPs and the Minister of Education to oppose the removal of caps on class size and the increase in class size aver- ages. Parents especially know the positive impact of small classes; many are organiz- ing in their own communities. BuildingBet- terSchools.ca also engaged members of the public in a Hands Off FDK campaign, which gathered more than 500 stories from parents


6 ETFO VOICE | SPRING 2019


and educators about why the current struc- ture of the Kindergarten classroom works best for Ontario students. As we continue to develop our public campaign, we will share these stories. ETFO has been a leader in ad- vocating for education and other issues and we continue to see incredible public support. At the end of February, ETFO launched


our public campaign. Our new 30-second TV ad is built around the song “I Believe the Children Are Our Future.” The ad is both an anthem and a testament capturing the dedi- cation and hope that public elementary edu- cators bring to their classrooms every day. As we watch children engaged in different types of learning, the tag line, “Don’t make them pay for government cuts,” provides a force- ful reminder of why Ontario needs to invest in public education. Viewers are then asked to take action at BuildingBetterSchools.ca. ETFO’s billboard and transit shelter ads con- tinue the theme of investing in the future of Ontario children. An ad with the headline “Protect Full-Day Kindergarten. Protect our future” and accompanying classroom photo underscores the importance of Ontario’s Full-Day Kindergarten model. A second ad


boldly advocates for public education with the headline “When we invest in public edu- cation, we invest in our future.” All ads tie the campaign back to ETFO’s BuildingBetter- Schools.ca and to digital platforms. ETFO’s digital advertising campaign will reach mil- lions of Ontarians in the coming months. As we move into the spring and our prepa-


rations for bargaining, we have begun member engagement and mobilization initiatives. The goal is for ETFO locals and stewards to con- nect with our 83,000 ETFO members directly. For members, this is an opportunity to get in- volved, to share experiences and points of view and to fi nd ways to engage and participate. Historically, ETFO has been a leader in


defending and advancing Ontario’s public education system. ETFO has made signifi cant gains for our members and our students, and contributed to advancing rights for all Ontari- ans. In light of the current government’s agen- da, we will inevitably have to continue to fi ght to help the government realize that Ontario’s public education system needs investment not cuts. As education professionals, we know that students deserve no less.


– Sharon O’Halloran


PHOTO BY KATHRYN GAITENS


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