Premier Kathleen Wynne has stuck to her promise of tackling the sore issue of teacher employment in Ontario. A bone of contention for many (including myself): the province has continually allowed around 3,000 surplus graduates to complete teacher education every year since at least 2009, but likely much longer.
Now, the Premier is proposing not only doubling the amount of time it will take to become a teacher (as put forward by her predecessor), but also dramatically reducing or halving the number of places in Faculties of Education in Ontario.
While I'm happy the Premier is taking action on this, I do not support her current plan.
Firstly, the new 2-year Bachelor of Education degree will no doubt create a two-tiered system of teachers in the province, those who trained for a one-year degree, and those with the 2-year degree.
With 15,000 surplus teachers seeking meaningful employment in their field, I am nervous about which tier Boards will favour. And of course I have to ask: Will 2-year teachers earn more money? Will 1-year teachers eventually be forced into a second year of teacher training? These issues have not yet been addressed by the Premier.
Second, the cost of becoming a teacher has now doubled. Would-be teachers are about to face a massive alteration of their budgets. Students with student loans have tacked on another few years of repayment, and students without loans may now need to consider financing.
The incidental costs of teacher training will also double: travel costs to practicum placements high on the list of new expenses, particularly as the Premier has said she will double the classroom placement component of a Bachelor of Education degree.
Lastly, the Premier has not tackled the other root causes of the teacher surplus, namely class sizes that have steadily increased as Boards do their level best to reduce HR costs. A true re-imagining of the current system for qualifying teachers needs to also include some signs that schools will be better placed to reduce their class sizes and fund the new teaching positions that would emerge as a result.