Great Teachers, Great Schools challenges task force’s report
Despite having serious concerns about Education Minister Jeff Johnson’s Task Force for Teaching Excellence, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, on June 15, submitted and simultaneously released a response to the report’s recommendations.
The submission and its directions are directed to teachers, parents and other supporters of public education. The submission is intended to develop constructive alternatives to the recommendations of the task force that will enhance teacher professionalism and build public confidence in Alberta’s education system.
In the ATA’s response, Association President Mark Ramsankar said: “Alberta’s teachers are committed to excellence and are essential to Alberta’s world class standing in education. Despite our concerns about the task force, we want to let teachers, parents and other supporters of public education know about the profession’s view of teaching excellence. Great Teachers, Great Schools provides a clear way forward for supporting teachers in providing quality learning for students.”
The ATA’s response challenges incomplete and incorrect information that has been advanced by Johnson and his task force following its release.
On the ATA’s dual union and professional functions
The task force has no actual evidence of a conflict of interest; the task force relies on the cheap shot of “perceived conflict.”
The task force did not understand the operation of the professional conduct process or professional practice review and so its prescriptions are unworkable.
On the ATA’s handling of competency
The task force notes that no teaching certificate has been cancelled due to incompetence in the past 10 years in an attempt to justify returning the process to the minister of education. However, for five of these years, the minister controlled the process.
Superintendents are responsible for initiating practice review and have not done so.
On five-year cyclical evaluations
The task force suggests that nothing is happening to assure continuous practice improvement.
To suggest that teachers are not monitored is a blatant misrepresentation of the current policy.
Teacher practice is supervised and evaluations are done when a teacher is new or at any time when there are concerns about a teacher’s practice.
Teachers have an ongoing professional duty to review and improve their own practice.
The ATA’s response proposes a number of alternative strategies that should be implemented to achieve the original objectives for supporting teacher excellence, including the implementation of modified or original task force recommendations related to teaching standards, mentorship and teacher supports. The ATA also proposes revisions to professional growth processes, continuing education requirements, and support for administrators in teacher supervision and enhanced public awareness of professional conduct and competence processes, including expanded access to information.
“Our response calls on government to focus on improving teaching and learning in true collaboration with the profession,” said Ramsankar. “The minister should have started this process last year by engaging the teaching profession, but he did not do that. Our submission outlines directions where the minister can work with the profession into the future.”
A backgrounder of highlights from the Association’s response and the full text of Great Teachers, Great Schools, the ATA’s response to the recommendations of the Task Force for Teaching Excellence, can be accessed using the link http://bit.ly/ATAresponse. ❚