Dr. Dawn C. Wallin

March 26, 2014 5:01 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER NINE: Teachers and the Teaching Profession


PROLOGUE

A small group of teachers stopped for a moment in the board office parking lot on their way out from that evening’s professional development symposium, which had been sponsored jointly by their school board and the local chapter of the teachers’ federation. “Okay, Sue, you’re not far from my place. I’ll drop you off,” said Larry, a chemistry and physics teacher at Foothills Collegiate. “See the rest of you tomorrow.” As the two of them headed for Larry’s station wagon, the rest of the group—André, Lisa, and Anya—climbed into Garret’s van and fastened their seat belts as they joined the line of cars filing out of the parking lot.

“Well,” Garret asked, “What did you think? I thought he was pretty good.” Garret was the half-time vice principal at Foothills Collegiate, where Larry, André, and Anya taught, and where Sue and Lisa were currently completing their student-teaching placement. The evening’s speaker had been a superintendent visiting from out of the province. In his talk, entitled “The Extended Professional Teacher,” he had described the way in which his district had attempted systematically to stimulate and support professional growth among its teachers.

“Yeah, I really appreciated what he had to say,” added Carol. “I wrote down his definition of the extended professional: ‘a capacity for autonomous professional development through systematic self-study, through the study of the work of other teachers, and through the testing of ideas by classroom research procedures.’ But to hear how they were actually doing it—with teacher research teams conducting their own action research on key issues like student retention or violence in school, and with teachers actually sitting in on each other’s classes and sharing their experience and expertise with each other—I mean, most of us talk about doing that kind of stuff, but to have a superintendent who not only encourages it but actually provides resources to make it happen, that’s really exciting.”

“I think what he said about making critical links to the existing research was important too,” added André, “so we’re not just throwing around our own opinions but also testing them against the research, and also testing the research against our own experience. I think his district would be a neat place to work—a place where they give you the time and opportunity to sit down and talk about important educational issues. What did he call it? ‘Critical professional discourse,’ I think. We need that sort of opportunity here if we’re going to keep growing as teachers over the length of our careers.”

“Well,” said Garret, “you know we’ve tried to do that with the student-teacher project. I know it’s only a beginning, but we do meet on a regular basis about that, and it does link us to the university as partners in designing and supervising students’ practice teaching experiences. But I agree it is pretty much a one-of-a-kind activity. In our district, it’s really up to teachers to take care of their own professional development. Perhaps we should develop some school-based initiatives of our own. I think the principal might go for it, and I’m sure the staff would.”

Meanwhile, as they drove away from the board office, Larry and Sue were having a quite different conversation. “He should have called his presentation ‘The Over-Extended Professional,’” Larry commented. “I don’t know why I came in the first place. I should be home dealing with the pile of marking I have to get back to my chemistry class tomorrow. I’ll be up half the night now. I mean, it sounds all right in theory maybe, but if we’re going to be seen as professionals I say what we need to do is to get serious about what it is that we do: teach kids in classrooms. If we pay attention to that, keep up on our own subject and on our teaching and make sure that the kids in our classes are learning what we’re supposed to be teaching them, then I don’t see how you can have time for ‘action research’ or whatever. I get quite angry at the number of days that some teachers spend away from their classes on curriculum committees or doing workshops and the like. Sometimes that’s what I call unprofessional. I don’t think we all have to be philosophers and researchers to be professional—we just have to be given the supports to do our job and then left alone to get on with it. I work damned hard, and my kids always get among the best science results in the province. That’s how I’m professional, and I think that’s how we should judge the profession.”

The professional status of public school teachers in Canada has long been a topic of debate, and some sensitivity, among teachers and teacher organizations. Canadian teachers usually vigorously assert the legitimacy of their claim to be regarded as professionals, and the desirability of enhanced professionalism is often taken for granted. However, occupational groups do not attain professional status simply by self-proclamation. Governments have historically resisted efforts to afford teachers professional autonomy, and, within the academic literature on professions, teaching—along with activities such as social work and nursing—is more likely to be classified as a “semi-profession.”
In recent years, as Goodson and Hargreaves (1996) note, the issue of teacher professionalization in Canada and elsewhere has taken “an intriguing twist” (p. 1), as governments, bureaucracies, and big business have begun to vigorously sponsor at least aspects of this project. Somewhat paradoxically, we see governments promoting such initiatives as occupational self-regulation and the establishment of a professional standards of practice that seem to support the goals of teacher professionalization while simultaneously implementing changes that work in the opposite direction, such as the centralization of curriculum, assessment, decision making and the capping of teachers’ salaries.
One way of interpreting these apparent contradictions is to see aspects of teachers’ work “becoming reprofessionalized in ways that involve broader tasks, greater complexity, more sophisticated judgement, and collective decision-making among colleagues, while other parts are becoming deprofessionalized in terms of pragmatic training, reduced discretion over goals and increased dependence on detailed learning outcomes prescribed by others” (Goodson & Hargreaves, 1996, p. 3).

In the first part of this chapter, we examine the concept of professionalism and its utility in understanding and describing the work of teachers. From this examination, we will develop a position, already foreshadowed in earlier chapters of this book, for thinking about teaching as a unique kind of profession. The second half of the chapter considers the implications of this professional identity for the practice of public-school teachers and the structuring of relations in public school, and also discusses the roles of teachers’ professional associations in Canada.

WHAT IS A PROFESSION?
In everyday life, the terms “profession” and “professional” have a very broad range of meanings; in the academic literature usage, however, they have traditionally been more narrowly defined. Despite this, there is still some variation in the ways in which these terms are derived and used. Their meanings are most often developed through an examination of the characteristics of so-called true professions (e.g., medicine and law). From this examination emerges an ideal type or model consisting of a series of characteristics that serve to separate professions from other occupations. Three examples of the more widely accepted definitions of profession are included in Table 9.1. While each has its own unique emphasis and language, these definitions share the following broad characteristics:

1.   A profession possesses a unique body of knowledge that is obtained by its members over a long period of formal training. Professionals are continually adding to this knowledge throughout their careers.
2.   A profession is an essential service that is held in high regard by society at large; as such, its members are usually afforded high status in the society.
3.   A profession is afforded a high degree of personal autonomy and is self-regulating. Professional bodies possess a code of ethics and regulate both entry into the profession and the behaviour of their members. Individual members exercise independent judgment in carrying out their work, and depend on their peers rather than their superiors for advice and direction.

Such lists of characteristics have the conceptual status of an ideal type: no occupation fully embodies each of these characteristics, and different occupations vary over time and from place to place in the extent to which they meet each of the defining characteristics. Given this perspective, the ideal type does more than enable us to determine whether teaching (or any other occupation) makes it into the elite ranks of the professions; as an analytical tool, it allows us to examine the ways in which teaching approximates each of these attributes so that we can better understand the nature of public schools and the organization of teaching. Accordingly, the next section examines how the above characteristics of professions have been viewed in relation to teaching.


Table 9.1 Definitions of “Profession”

HALL

RICH

HOY AND MISKEL

A. STRUCTURAL/ OCCUPATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS

•     a high degree of general and systematized knowledge;

•     technical competence gained through long training;

•     a full-time occupation;

•     a long period of specialized, intellectual training;

•     a set of professional ideals, including a service ideal, impersonality, and impartiality;

•     substantial, university-based training;

•     intellectual practice;

•     autonomy in professional decision making; and

•     professional associations; and

•     a unique social service;

•     self-imposed control based on knowledge standards and peer review.

•     a code of ethics

•     controls standards of entry and exclusion;

 

B. ATTITUDINAL/ INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS

•     enforces a professional code of ethics; and

 

•     belief in service to the a public;

•     grants a broad range of autonomy to members.

 

•     belief in self-regulation and colleague control;

 

 

•     a sense of calling to the field; and

 

 

•     a belief in individual, professional autonomy.

 

 

Sources:

Hall, R. (1986). Professionalization and bureaucratization. American Sociological Review, 33(1), 92–93.

Rich, J. (1984). Professional ethics in education. Springfield, Il: C. Thomas.

Hoy, W., & Miskel, C. (1987). Educational administration (3rd ed., pp. 148–50). New York: Random House.


IS TEACHING A PROFESSION?
The drive for recognition as a profession by Canadian teachers has often involved attempts to demonstrate a close approximation to the ideal type and more specifically to try to replicate those characteristics seen to be exhibited by high-status professions. This argument for professional status is referred to by Soder (1990) as a similitude argument.

A Unique Body of Knowledge
Whether or not teaching possesses a clearly defined, highly developed, unique body of specialized knowledge that is demonstrably linked to professional proficiency has been a subject of some debate. In recent years, a substantial amount of educational research has been developed to inform professional practice. There have also been efforts to systematize this knowledge into a coherent body that could be defined as teachers’ professional knowledge, and that could then serve as a basis for the preparation and certification of teachers (Rodrigue, 2004; Shulman, 1987; Travers, 1986). It would be difficult to argue that this process has achieved the status of some other professions. Osborne (1992) notes that most teachers still say that they learned most of what they needed on the job, and that most hold a relatively low opinion of their professional training. On the other hand, some researchers believe that there is a formal knowledge base to guide educational practice. For example, it could be argued that the Standards of Practice developed by the British Columbia College of Teachers, the Ontario College of Teachers, and the Alberta Teachers’ Association (among others) can constitute a claim toward naming a distinct body of knowledge for the teaching profession. The debate is illustrated in Box 9.1.

An Essential Service
Given the long-standing compulsory nature of schooling, it is not difficult to make the argument that public schools constitute an essential service. In Canada, public opinion has generally placed a high value on schooling and the work of teachers, and although schooling has come under increased public and media scrutiny, public confidence remains high.

Longitudinal surveys of Canadian public attitudes toward education have been carried out by the Canadian Education Association (CEA) and by David Livingstone at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. In a 1990 national survey conducted by the CEA (Williams & Millinoff, 1990) people were asked to assign a grade to their community school: 80 percent gave an A, B, or C grade, and only 3.8 percent assigned an F grade. In the same survey, 85 percent of respondents awarded teachers an A, B, or C grade for their effectiveness as teachers, and similar grades were awarded to teachers in terms of their responsiveness to parents’ concerns. Writing in 1995, Livingstone and Hart report that “there is no evidence of a downturn of grades in recent years” (p. 23). Guppy and Davies (1999), however, do suggest that Canadians’ confidence in schools, along with other institutions, has been declining over time.

BOX 9.1 The Debate over the Knowledge Base for Teaching

It is quite clear that there is no body of agreed knowledge about teaching. The number of things that are both clearly known to be true and clearly relevant to educational practice is, it seems, small. Moreover, it is not even obvious that such knowledge as we have or could have about good teaching is very important for teachers to know. A science of pedagogy might turn out to have the same connection to teaching as physics does to riding a bicycle. Physics can explain how it is possible to ride a bike and why certain techniques work and others do not. A knowledge of physics, however, is not merely unnecessary in learning to ride a bicycle, it is not even very helpful. Perhaps something like this is what is meant by saying that teaching is an art. Such a view need not require that no science of pedagogy is possible. It may simply indicate that knowing it is not very important to teaching.

source: from haller, e., and k. strike. introduction to educational administration. published by allyn and bacon, boston, ma. copyright (c) by pearson education. by permission of the publisher.

Shulman, (1986), describes pedagogical content knowledge as “the knowledge that teachers possess of how best to teach certain content.” Schon, (1983), defines professional knowledge as “reflection in action”—thinking through one’s actions as one is producing them in the thick of one’s professional situation (p. 54). Clandinin and Connelly, (1995), and Elbaz, (1983), speak of personal practical knowledge. This practical knowledge is subject matter related. Teachers’ practical knowledge has been further characterized and defined as “being personal (e.g., Connelly & Clandinin, 1985), situated (e.g., Putnam & Borko, 1997), based on reflection on experience (e.g., Grimmett & MacKinnon, 1992), mainly tacit (e.g., Korthagen, 1993) and content-related (e.g., Grossman, 1989; cf. Meijer et. al., 2002).” McMeninan et al., (2000), add curriculum knowledge, knowledge of learners and their characteristics, knowledge of educational contexts, knowledge of educational ends, purposes and values to the list.

Source: Rodrigue, A. (2004). A conversation about professional accountability: Redefining professionalism. Canadian Teachers' Federation national conference, Ottawa, Ontario, p. 3. Reprinted with permission.


However, Goodson (2003) cautions teachers against accepting a purely practical definition of professional knowledge. In his view, what is needed is an active notion of teachers’ professional knowledge that focuses on a teacher’s life and work, incorporating reflection and ideas of the teacher as a “public intellectual.”

Self-Regulation
Until quite recently, Canadian teachers have not had responsibility for regulating the profession and have not been able to exercise control over the standards of entry into teaching or the professional conduct of teachers. Rather, it was the minister of education who retained sole authority for issuing teaching certificates and who alone could revoke them for incompetence or misconduct.
Whether or not teachers should be given this sort of self-regulating authority has long been an important source of debate, as illustrated in the different views expressed in Box 9.2.

BOX 9.2 Should Teaching Be Self-Regulating?

A Professional Bill—Now! by Judy Bradley
Why should Manitoba teachers get a professional bill now? Evolution—that’s why. What does evolution have to do with a professional bill? A great deal. Education, more specifically teaching, in Canada has been evolving for well over 100 years. One of the most significant changes occurred in the education of teachers when it was transferred from the normal school to the university. Coupled with this transfer were the rise and development of teacher organizations focusing on economic welfare and professional development.

Teachers are now better qualified than ever before. … They possess the knowledge, theory and methodology essential for a quality education system. The evolution of teacher education has produced teachers who are more than just givers of knowledge. But teachers have not been fully liberated and do not have the freedom to make professional decisions in their classrooms.
Schools are evolving and have reached the early stages of systems management. This kind of management allows for individuals affected by decisions within a system—in this case, teachers in the education system—to be part of the decision-making. The move towards this type of management has not yet reached Manitoba teachers, however. They still have no say in deciding who shall be granted a teaching certificate and whose certificate will be revoked in Manitoba; such decisions ultimately are made at the political will of the minister of education.

It is time for teachers to evolve into a full-fledged profession. Teachers, not politicians, must control certification, discipline and professional development of teachers. Teachers must be granted the same status as other professionals.
(Judy Bradley was the 1991–92 Manitoba Teachers’ Society President.)

GIVE UP THE CHASE by Ken Osborne
Professional autonomy is not likely to win for teachers the professional status enjoyed by doctors and lawyers. The question is much more complex and demands action on many fronts, not least in terms of teacher preparation and training, both in- and pre-service.

Nor is it obvious that education as a whole will automatically benefit from teachers’ achieving self-government. A happy and contented teaching force can make for happy and contented classrooms, and, therefore, education can benefit. However, happiness and contentment will not necessarily flow from self-government. They depend much more on … mundane considerations, mostly deriving from working conditions determined by class size, administrative policies, preparation time and other factors.

Here the [Manitoba Teachers’] Society could usefully concentrate its energies. It should give up the chase for professional status and move in the opposite direction. Become not a profession but a union. Regain the right to strike. University professors belong to a full-fledged union. Why not teachers?

Moving away from the pursuit of professional status would also accomplish another objective. It would acknowledge that education is and must be a public institution. It should not be exclusively controlled by teachers. Teacher training and eligibility for entry into teaching, for example, are legitimate questions of public policy. They should not be controlled by any one group. What is good for teachers is not automatically good for education, and vice versa. The same is true for the medical and legal professions. For example, a rational health policy—advocating more community clinics, paraprofessionals, preventive medicine and the like—has been difficult to attain because of the self-interest of doctors.

Education must be open to much greater community involvement than it now is. Teachers must be willing to share power, not monopolize it. They will be better able to protect their legitimate interests by becoming not a profession but a union.

(Ken Osborne is a professor emeritus in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.)

Source: An extended version of both of these positions appeared in The Manitoba Teacher (1992, march), 70(3), 16–17. Reprinted with permission.



In 1987, British Columbia became the first Canadian province to make its teachers self-regulating when the Teacher Profession Act (1987) established the British Columbia College of Teachers. This act in essence assigned to the British Columbia College of Teachers sole responsibility for governing the profession’s standards of entry, discipline, and professional development, and in doing so distinguished these from other interests pursued by the traditional teachers’ association, such as collective bargaining and the welfare of teachers.* Since then other provinces have shown an interest in this model, and in 1996 Ontario moved to create a similar self-regulating body with the passage of the College of Teachers Act (1996). The Ontario College is governed by a Governing Council of 31 people, the majority (17) of whom are elected by members of the College and must be qualified teachers, with the remainder (14) appointed by the Minister of Education to represent the broader public interest. The College is charged by the act to set standards for teacher education and teacher practice, and to concern itself with issues of professional self-regulation as well as public accountability (Ontario College of Teachers, 1996). As with the British Columbia model, these functions, shown in Box 9.3, are intended to be clearly separated from the collective bargaining and welfare activities of the teachers’ federations in Ontario.
*Under a subsequent amendment to the act, professional development has reverted to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.

BOX 9.3 The Ontario College of Teachers: Roles and Responsibilities

MANDATE
The Ontario College of Teachers was established to regulate and govern the province’s teaching profession. The College, established in 1996, has responsibility for developing standards of teaching practice, regulating teacher certification and professional development, and accrediting teacher education programs.

STANDARDS OF PRACTICE
The document Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession was approved by the Council of the Ontario College of Teachers in 1999. The standards are based upon core statements in five areas:
•     Commitment to students and student learning
•     Professional knowledge
•     Teaching practice
•     Leadership and community
•     Ongoing professional learning
For each area key elements are included that illustrate and elaborate upon the core statement.

PROFESSIONAL LEARNING
The Ontario College of Teachers is responsible for the accreditation of pre-service education programs at faculties of education in Ontario universities. It also accredits forms of in-service professional development, including the province’s Additional Qualifications Courses, the Principal’s Qualification Program, and the Supervisory Officer’s Qualification Program. The College also has the authority to:
•     Regulate teaching qualifications
•     Set membership criteria, enroll members, and create a provincial register of teachers
•     Investigate complaints involving members and allegations of professional misconduct, and take appropriate disciplinary action

Source: The Ontario College of Teachers website <http://www.oct.on.ca>.



This sort of analysis of teaching on the grounds of expert knowledge, essential service, and self-regulation serves to illustrate the ideal and subjective nature of the concept of professionalism discussed earlier. There are no objective scales for these dimensions, nor is there any real way of aggregating degrees of professionalism across the different dimensions. Measuring these characteristics remains largely subjective—the ways in which different occupations are generally viewed by the public—and it is this sort of perspective, one that employs the similitude argument, that is used to assign teaching the status of semi-professional.

AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF TEACHING AS A PROFESSION
For several authors, the differences between the practice of occupations such as medicine and law and those of teaching (particularly public-school teaching) suggest the inappropriateness of efforts to define and pursue teacher professionalism according to the standards established for other occupations. Fenstermacher (1990) notes three critical differences between the practice of teaching and that of medicine: “the mystification of knowledge,” “social distance,” and “reciprocity of effort.” According to Fenstermacher, teaching requires that teachers impart their knowledge not only to their students but also, as was discussed in Chapter 8, to parents. This requirement stands in marked contrast to the traditional efforts of most professions to lock away their specialized knowledge even when it is of the most elementary nature. Impersonality, another characteristic of professional practice, similarly makes little sense with teaching. Students are not “cases” with very specific needs to diagnose and meet, and to treat them in such a fashion contradicts what we know about good teaching. In order to learn, students must engage in the learning process—they must expend effort. This sustained “reciprocity of effort” is another factor that distinguishes teaching from other professions.

One could go on elaborating differences, but the point is that these differences do not constitute grounds for downplaying the professional status of public-school teaching. What they do require is that we recast the concept of professionalism as it is applied to the nature of public schools and the organization of teaching. In the introduction to their book Teachers’ Professional Lives, Goodson and Hargreaves (1996) review four alternative versions of teacher professionalism which they refer to as “flexible professionalism,” “practical professionalism,” “extended professionalism,” and “complex professionalism,” and propose a fifth version, “postmodern professionalism.” This fifth version they see as driven, primarily, not by interests of self-serving status enhancement or of technical competence and personal, practical reflection, but by a moral and sociopolitical vision of teaching as serving the educative goals of caring communities and vigorous social democracies. For them teacher professionalism in the contemporary, complex, postmodern age should mean:

•     increased opportunity and responsibility to exercise discretionary judgment over the issues of teaching, curriculum and care that affect one’s students;
•     opportunities and expectations to engage with the moral and social purposes and values of what teachers teach, along with major curriculum and assessment matters in which these purposes are embedded;
•     a commitment to working with colleagues in collaborative cultures of help and support as a way of using shared expertise to solve the ongoing problems of professional practice, rather than engaging in joint work as a motivational device to implement the external mandates of others;
•     occupational heterogeneity rather than self-protective autonomy, where teachers work authoritatively yet openly and collaboratively with other partners in a wider community (especially parents and students themselves), who have a significant stake in the students’ learning;
•     a commitment to active care not just anodyne service for students. Professionalism must in this sense acknowledge and embrace the emotional as well as the cognitive dimensions of teaching, and also recognize the skills and dispositions that are essential to committed and effective caring;
•     a self-directed search and struggle for continuous learning related to one’s own expertise and standards of practice, rather than compliance with the enervating obligations of endless change demanded by others (often under the guise of continuous learning or improvement);
•     the creation and recognition of high task complexity, with levels of status and reward appropriate to such complexity (Goodson & Hargreaves, 1996, pp. 20–21).

Such a view corresponds with Rodrigue’s (2004) ideas, supported by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, that teacher professionalism includes knowledge, education, autonomy, activism, altruism, and collegiality.

CODES OF ETHICS
There is an obvious relationship between what it means to be a member of a profession and what it means to act professionally. As in other professions, the latter is addressed in teaching by a code of professional practice that is laid out by most, but not all, provincial teachers’ associations in Canada. While each provincial association has its own code, there is a considerable degree of similarity among provinces (see Box 9.4, page 284, for an example of a code of professional conduct). Just as the characteristics of a profession cannot capture the complexities of what it means to be a profession, so too a code of ethics represents only a skeletal outline of what it means to be a professional.

The Purposes and Functions of Codes of Ethics
As a guide to professional conduct, an enforced code of ethics serves several functions. First, it provides some assurance to its clients that they can expect to be treated in accordance with established standards of practice and acceptable moral conduct. Second, it offers the general public some confidence that the profession is serving a public interest worthy of trust and support. Third, it offers a set of uniform rules and standards that define for its members acceptable professional behaviour, and that provide a basis for properly regulating their conduct (Rich, 1984, pp. 6–7).

BOX 9.4 The Alberta Teachers’ Association Code of Professional Conduct

The Code of Professional Conduct stipulates minimum standards of professional conduct of teachers but is not an exhaustive list of such standards. Unless exempted by legislation, any member of The Alberta Teachers’ Association who is alleged to have violated the standards of the profession, including the provisions of the Code, may be subject to a charge of unprofessional conduct under the Discipline Bylaws of the Association.

IN RELATION TO PUPILS
1.   The teacher teaches in a manner that respects the dignity and rights of all persons without prejudice as to race, religious beliefs, colour, sex, sexual orientation, physical characteristics, age, ancestry or place of origin.
2.   (1) The teacher is responsible for diagnosing educational needs, prescribing and implementing instructional programs and evaluating progress of pupils.
(2) The teacher may not delegate these responsibilities to any person who is not a teacher.
3.   The teacher may delegate specific and limited aspects of instructional activity to noncertificated personnel, provided that the teacher supervises and directs such activity.
4.   The teacher treats pupils with dignity and respect and is considerate of their circumstances.
5.   The teacher may not divulge information about a pupil received in confidence or in the course of professional duties except as required by law or where, in the judgment of the teacher, to do so is in the best interest of the pupil.
6.   The teacher may not accept pay for tutoring a pupil in any subjects in which the teacher is responsible for giving classroom instruction to that pupil.
7.   The teacher may not take advantage of a professional position to profit from the sale of goods or services to or for pupils in the teacher’s charge.

IN RELATION TO SCHOOL AUTHORITIES
8.   The teacher protests the assignment of duties for which the teacher is not qualified or conditions which make it difficult to render professional service.
9.   The teacher fulfills contractual obligations to the employer until released by mutual consent or according to law.
10. The teacher provides as much notice as possible of a decision to terminate employment.
11. The teacher adheres to agreements negotiated on the teacher’s behalf by the Association.

IN RELATION TO COLLEAGUES
12. The teacher does not undermine the confidence of pupils in other teachers.
13. The teacher criticizes the professional competence or professional reputation of another teacher only in confidence to proper officials and after the other teacher has been informed of the criticism, subject only to Section 23 of the Teaching Profession Act.*
14. The teacher, when making a report on the professional performance of another teacher, does so in good faith and, prior to submitting the report, provides the teacher with a copy of the report, subject only to Section 23 of the Teaching Profession Act.*
15. The teacher does not take, because of animosity or for personal advantage, any steps to secure the dismissal of another teacher.
16. The teacher recognizes the duty to protest through proper channels administrative policies and practices which the teacher cannot in conscience accept; and further recognizes that if administration by consent fails, the administrator must adopt a position of authority.
17. The teacher as an administrator provides opportunities for staff members to express their opinions and to bring forth suggestions regarding the administration of the school.

IN RELATION TO THE PROFESSION
18. The teacher acts in a manner which maintains the honour and dignity of the profession.
19. The teacher does not engage in activities which adversely affect the quality of the teacher’s professional service.
20. The teacher submits to the Association disputes arising from professional relationships with other teachers which cannot be resolved by personal discussion.
21. The teacher makes representations on behalf of the Association or members thereof only when authorized to do so.
22. The teacher accepts that service to the Association is a professional responsibility.
*items 13 and 14 do not pertain to reporting to the association on the possible unprofessional conduct of another member. section 23(3) of the teaching profession act requires members to report forthwith to the executive secretary on the unprofessional conduct of another member.

Source: The Alberta Teachers’ Association. Reproduced with permission.


The organization of the Alberta Teachers’ Association code into categories that outline the responsibilities of teachers to pupils, school authorities, colleagues, and to the profession is similar to that found in most codes. Codes of ethics tend to combine general statements of overriding ideals and principles (e.g., “a teacher’s first responsibility is to the pupils in his or her charge”) and quite specific procedures and rules of professional conduct (e.g., reporting suspected child abuse). Provincial teachers’ organizations are responsible for enforcing their codes, and for dealing with cases of unprofessional conduct. While most do not have the authority to withdraw a member’s teaching certificate or to remove teachers from their teaching positions, they may reprimand their members, expel them from the organization, and, in the most serious of infractions, recommend to the minister of education that their certification be revoked.

Teachers and Pupils
The prime responsibility of teachers is the educational well-being of their students. To accomplish this task, the professional teacher creates, along with other educators, an appropriate learning environment for each student that takes into account individual interests, needs, and abilities. This commitment to each student is spelled out in the Alberta Teachers’ Association code: “The teacher teaches in a manner that respects the dignity and rights of all persons without prejudice as to race, religious beliefs, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical characteristics, disability, marital status, family status, age, ancestry, place of origin, place of residence, socioeconomic background or linguistic background.”

Professional competence is often recognized by the expectation (1) that teachers will participate in a career-long process of professional development; and (2), in the words of the Alberta Teachers’ Association code, that “[t]he teacher protests the assignment of duties for which the teacher is not qualified or conditions which make it difficult to render professional service.” Some codes, such as that of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, include the teacher’s responsibility to report suspected cases of child abuse to the appropriate authorities.

Teachers and Colleagues
Professional status requires teachers to respect the expertise of their colleagues, to refrain from acting in ways that undermine professional authority, and to deal with collegial disputes in a professional manner. This means that teachers are expected to follow clearly defined procedures if they wish to criticize the professional activity of a colleague, or if they oppose decisions duly agreed upon by other teachers. Failure to do so could lead to disciplinary action by the appropriate teachers’ association.

Whether such regulation of a teacher’s criticism of a colleague could be deemed a violation of the teacher’s freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Charter was a question addressed in a British Columbia court case (Cromer v. British Columbia Teachers’ Federation). Cromer, a teacher and parent with a child attending a school in the school district in which she worked, attended a parent advisory committee at which concerns were expressed about the sex-education program in which her child was enrolled. At the meeting, she became involved in a heated exchange with her child’s teacher in which she made a number of derogatory personal criticisms of the teacher. The teacher complained to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation that this violated its code of ethics, and the BCTF initiated disciplinary proceedings. Cromer maintained that the charge violated her freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Charter. However, at trial and on appeal the code of ethics was upheld. The Court of Appeal judge commented:
The code of ethics is designed to avoid disharmony among teaching colleagues, and to promote professional standards, all in the interests of creating an environment where the children being taught will receive the best educational opportunity possible. The code of ethics does not preclude criticism by one teacher of another; it sets out a procedure for making criticism that is intended to increase the beneficial effects of the criticism and minimize the harmful effects.

Because the criticisms were addressed personally to the teacher and not at the specific subject matter under consideration, the judge concluded:

In my opinion, the “freedom of expression” guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is capable of overriding cl. 5 of the code of ethics of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation. To determine whether it does so in any particular case depends on a weighing and balancing of the interests involved, as has always been the case with “freedom of expression” questions. In this case, I do not consider that Mrs. Cromer’s interests in saying what she is alleged to have said were sufficient to override the interests underlying cl. 5 of the code of ethics.

In another case in which an Alberta teacher made critical comments in the context of her role as a parent at a meet-the-teacher night with her own children’s teacher, the court again ruled that the teacher, while acting as a private individual, was still bound by her professional code of conduct (Teachers’ unprofessional conduct, May 2001).

The Teacher and Authority
As employees in a bureaucratic organization who also see themselves as professionals, teachers often face conflicts between what the organization wishes them to do and what they regard as being the best decision. For example, a teacher may disagree with a particular school policy, may feel that a student has been treated unfairly, or may feel that a curriculum change is not in the best interests of students. Teachers in these situations face difficult dilemmas. To what extent should they publicly express their views? In school climates that are not built on trust and professionalism, a teacher who voices an opinion that is unpopular, either with colleagues or with the school administrator, runs the risk of being penalized in a variety of ways. He or she may receive a less positive evaluation, may be given a less desirable teaching assignment, or may have a harder time getting resources and support for a favourite course or project. Administrators are in a position to impose such sanctions without ever making it evident that a teacher is being penalized, but good leaders would never stoop to such tactics. In fact, teachers may often overestimate the likelihood of their being penalized for expressing their ideas.

On the other hand, it is part of one’s responsibility as a professional to voice one’s views and concerns in an open and constructive manner. The Alberta Teachers’ Association code deals explicitly with this by stating: “The teacher as an administrator provides opportunities for staff members to express their opinions and to bring forth suggestions regarding the administration of the school.” Surely administrators would want to know if people had serious concerns about their proposals. It cannot be desirable for people to keep quiet in public and grumble in private about decisions. Being a professional carries with it the responsibility to act in the best interests of one’s profession, even when there may be a personal cost involved. All of these points suggest that teachers should take a stand on important issues.
It might also be appropriate to reflect on the parallels between teachers and students. If teachers are reluctant, despite the protections of their adult status and their membership in a professional organization, to speak out about their concerns, then much more so are students, who have none of these protections and who are much more vulnerable to coercion and retribution for expressing unpopular opinions. (Chapter 4 raised the issue of the school as a democratic community in which it would be desirable to provide vehicles for everyone to express opinions in an open but constructive way.)

As in so many areas, no clear and unambiguous answer to this dilemma is possible. Teachers have to decide what steps seem warranted. Depending on the situation, discretion may or may not be the better part of valour. On occasion, a teacher might consider collective rather than individual action, since acting with colleagues provides both a stronger statement and a measure of protection from reprisal. Such decisions are essentially matters of conscience, which is another way of saying there is no formula for resolving them.

The Private Lives of Teachers
The expectations of teachers as professionals do not stop at the entrance to the school. What teachers do in their lives out of school cannot necessarily be deemed irrelevant to their work in the classroom, as clearly illustrated in the highly publicized case of New Brunswick teacher Malcolm Ross. In 1996, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that his publication of anti-Semitic books and pamphlets during his off-duty time contributed to a discriminatory and “poisoned” school environment and required that the school board remove him from any teaching position (Ross v. New Brunswick S D, 1996).

There has long been a public expectation in Canada that teachers lead morally exemplary lives. Some codes of ethics have chosen to avoid statements about teachers’ private lives. Others articulate a requirement that teachers uphold the professional reputation of their work. For example, the Alberta Teachers’ Association code requires that “[t]he teacher acts in a manner which maintains the honour and dignity of the profession” and “does not engage in activities which adversely affect the quality of [his or her] professional service.”

Not so long ago, teachers could be (and frequently were) dismissed for entering a bar or a pool hall, presumably for fear that they would set a bad example for the students in their care. Although standards have changed today, teachers’ private lives are still sometimes relevant to their employment. Issues of teachers’ out-of-school conduct can and do arise in many different contexts. The general standard accepted in law is that private behaviour “not impair one’s fitness to teach” (Hurlbert & Hurlbert, 1992, p. 186), but this does not necessarily resolve all the problems. Often the determination of what constitutes fitness to teach is based on the moral standards of the community of which the teacher is a part. For example, in another well-known court case, two teachers’ passion for photography outside of the classroom led to their suspension without pay for four weeks (Shewan & Shewan v. Abbotsford, 1987). Mr. Shewan submitted a semi-nude photograph of Mrs. Shewan to a “men’s” magazine in which it was published as part of an amateur photography feature. The issue that became central to the case was the fact that the photo had been accessed by students. In determining the judgment, the following position was clearly stated by the court:
Teachers must not only be competent, but they are expected to lead by example. Any loss of confidence or respect will impair the system, and have an adverse effect upon those who participate in or rely upon it. That is why a teacher must maintain a standard of behaviour which most other citizens need not observe because they do not have such public responsibilities to fulfil. (1987)

Essentially, court rulings suggest that teacher lifestyles may be cause for sanction if the lifestyle is judged by community standards as impairing the teacher’s ability to teach effectively.

Canadians vary widely in the standard of behaviour that they find proper or acceptable, which can create problems for teachers. Even the case of crime is not clear-cut. A teacher convicted of a crime could be dismissed from his or her job on the grounds that a criminal cannot be a suitable teacher. So could a teacher convicted of possessing illegal drugs (Zucker, 1988). But people might well differ over what sorts of crimes merit such punishment. Physical or sexual assault might seem to indicate unsuitability for teaching (though here too the particular circumstances might be relevant), but would a conviction for shoplifting also merit dismissal? What about driving offences?

Issues of sexual behaviour are particularly sensitive. One can no longer be dismissed from teaching in Canada on the basis of sexual orientation. On the other hand, Catholic school boards in Canada have dismissed teachers who were divorced, or who otherwise violated Catholic religious teaching, and these dismissals have been upheld by the courts.
Also delicate are issues of relationships between teachers and students. What constitutes an appropriate relationship between a teacher and a student outside the classroom has been determined on a case-by-case basis. For obvious moral and professional reasons, sexual relationships between teachers and students have been deemed inappropriate. Yet, a Canadian court upheld the continued employment of a teacher who was living with her former elementary student because they were then no longer in a teacher–student relationship, and the student had reached the age of the majority (Hurlbert & Hurlbert, 1992, p. 190).

The conflict between the public’s expectations of teachers and teachers’ right to lead private lives of their own choosing makes it likely that other such cases will end up before the courts.

TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATIONS
Provincial teachers’ associations exist in all of Canada’s provinces and territories. In most cases, a single association represents the public school teachers of the province or territory; only New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario have more than one association. (See Table 9.2 for a list of associations.)


Table 9.2 Provincial Teachers’ Associations in Canada

PROVINCE OR TERRITORY

ASSOCIATION

WEBSITE

Yukon

Yukon Teachers’ Association

www.yta.yk.ca

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association

www.nwtta.nt.ca

Nunavut

Federation of Nunavut Teachers

www.fnt.nu.ca

British Columbia

B.C. Teachers’ Federation

www.bctf.bc.ca

Alberta

Alberta Teachers’ Association

www.teachers.ab.ca

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

www.stf.sk.ca

Manitoba

Manitoba Teachers’ Society

www.mbteach.org

Ontario

Ontario Teachers’ Federation

www.otffeo.on.ca

 

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario

www.etfo.on.ca

 

Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation

www.osstf.on.ca

 

Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association

www.oecta.on.ca.

 

L'Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens

http://franco.ca/aefo/index.html

Quebec

Provincial Association of Protestant Teachers

n/a

 

Provincial Association of Catholic Teachers

n/a

 

Centrale de l’enseignement du Québec

n/a

 

Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers

www.qpat-apeq.qc.ca

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Teachers’ Federation

www.nbtf-fenb.nb.ca

 

New Brunswick Teachers’ Association

www.nbta.ca

 

L’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants francophone du Nouveau-Brunswick

www.aefnb.nb.ca

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Teachers Union

www.nstu.ca

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation

www.peitf.com

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association

www.nlta.nf.ca


These associations perform a wide range of activities related to the well-being of their membership in particular, and to the provision and improvement of public schooling in general (Lawton, Bedard, MacLellan, & Li, 1999). Among the functions of teachers’ associations are: (1) professional development activities for their membership, in the form of seminars, conferences, and workshops; (2) member welfare supports, such as counselling on personal-health issues; (3) legal and professional advice to members on such matters as contractual rights and employee relationships; and (4) lobbying and consultation activities with governments and other educational stakeholders to promote both the interests of their members and the health of the public school system. Collective bargaining on behalf of their membership has also become a major function of teachers’ associations.

Most principals and vice principals in Canada belong to teachers’ organizations. Although they may have their own subgroup within these organizations (e.g., the Manitoba Council of School Leaders), they have traditionally seen themselves primarily as teachers who share common professional interests with their colleagues. However, this relationship is not without its ambiguities, since principals are also expected to be management representatives in their schools.

In Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia, principals are prevented by law from being members of teachers’ organizations. In these provinces, school administrators have their own provincial organizations. In Quebec, this organization has been long established, while in British Columbia the split from the teachers’ federation occurred in 1987 as part of the legislation that established the British Columbia College of Teachers (Robinson & Wallin, 1989).
Recently, there has been much political debate over whether administrators should remain “in scope” or “out of scope” of teachers’ organizations. Those in favour of inclusion argue that most administrators are teachers and are affected by many of the same issues as teachers, and should therefore be entitled to the same protections. Those who argue for exclusion are concerned with the nature of principals’ role as managers of work and evaluators of teachers: when conflicts arise, they very often pit administrators against teachers (for example, in dismissal proceedings). The question then is, Which “teacher member” does the association protect?

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
A major function of teachers’ associations has been the negotiation of collective agreements with the employer that outline the conditions of employment for their members. A collective agreement is a legal agreement between a group of workers or employees, who have organized themselves into a union or bargaining unit, and their employer. The bargaining unit must be formally organized according to relevant provincial labour laws. It then elects or otherwise chooses a team or committee to represent its members in negotiating a contract with the employer.

Although collective bargaining by teachers takes place in all the provinces, the procedure assumes various forms and is covered by different legislative provisions. All but three provinces have enacted collective bargaining legislation that is specific to teachers. Bargaining in New Brunswick is regulated by general public-sector bargaining legislation; in Alberta and British Columbia, it is regulated by general labour legislation. Provinces such as Manitoba and Ontario utilize a combination of general labour legislation and specific education provisions to regulate bargaining.
As Table 9.3 shows, collective bargaining also varies across provinces in terms of the level at which bargaining actually occurs. In some cases, all negotiations occur centrally, and agreements affect all teachers in the province; in others, bargaining is a purely local activity between school boards and the local bargaining unit. A third version sees some items addressed locally and others centrally.

Salaries and benefits represent a major component of all collective agreements, although by no means the only one. Procedures for laying off teachers are also included in collective agreements. Teacher layoffs have occurred, particularly in districts with significant declines in enrollment. In such cases, contracts usually provide that laid-off teachers have the first rights to any vacancies that may arise. Collective agreements may have very complicated provisions regarding the basis for layoffs and recalls, particularly concerning the extent to which seniority will apply in determining who will lose jobs, and the procedures to be followed. There may also be some modifications of seniority arrangements to accommodate specialists in particular subjects.

Working conditions provide a third area of concern in collective agreements. A wide range of matters may be specified, including maximum limits on a teacher’s teaching time, maximum class sizes, and minimum amounts of preparation time during the day or week. Some collective agreements also contain clauses that spell out teachers’ supervisory responsibilities.

Finally, collective agreements may contain clauses having to do with the union, the employer, and the bargaining process. Most agreements, for example, recognize the particular teachers’ association as the sole bargaining agent for teachers, and require teachers either to belong to the association or to pay fees to it even if they do not belong. Agreements also have provisions for settling disputes that may arise while the agreement is in force. If a member of the bargaining unit feels that the agreement has been violated, the association may file a grievance. The collective agreement lays out the steps that must be followed to resolve the grievance, with the final step usually being binding arbitration by a third party. The arbitration process can be very expensive, however, because of the cost of lawyers for each side, so there is an incentive for both the union and the employers to settle grievances without arbitration.


Table 9.3 Collective Bargaining Arrangements

LOCAL AGREEMENTS

MIXED AGREEMENTS

CENTRAL AGREEMENTS

Alberta

British Columbia

New Brunswick

Manitoba

Saskatchewan

Prince Edward Island

Ontario

Quebec

Newfoundland

 

Nova Scotia

Northwest Territories

 

British Columbia

Yukon Territory


Collective-Bargaining Procedures
Provinces have legislated different processes for collective bargaining between teachers and employers. Collective agreements are negotiated to be valid for a specified period of time (typically one to three years), at the end of which they must be renegotiated. While many items may stay the same from one contract to the next, others are subject to negotiation and change. Teachers’ associations normally try to improve salaries and benefits in each round of bargaining, while school boards and provincial governments try to limit salary increases and maintain control of working condition issues outside the collective agreement, so as to have more freedom to arrange things as they see fit in light of public pressures and interests.

When the two sides in the bargaining process appear unable to come to an agreement in contract talks, collective-bargaining legislation usually provides for a number of outside interventions to facilitate an agreement (see Table 9.4). These may include fact finding, mediation or conciliation, arbitration, binding arbitration, and final offer selection. The first two of these are voluntary. Fact finding is a process in which a neutral third party studies each side’s position and issues a report outlining his or her view of the issues involved. This report is for information only. Mediation (sometimes called conciliation) involves having a third party meet with the two sides, either separately or together, to try to help them work out a solution. The parties do not have to listen to the mediator, but sometimes an outside person can cut through the bad feelings and suspicions separating the two sides.

In contrast, arbitration involves a process whereby the two sides select a third person (or persons) to settle the dispute for them. The arbitrator listens to both sides and then makes a decision as to what should be in the contract. Both sides, if they agree to arbitration in the first place, must accept the arbitrator’s decision, no matter what it is. Final offer selection is a form of arbitration in which the arbitrator must pick the position of one side or the other in its entirety. The idea behind final offer selection, which remains a controversial practice, is that each side must put forward as reasonable a package as it can; if it is unreasonable, the arbitrator will select the other side’s proposals entirely.

Collective bargaining can also involve the use of sanctions by either side. Teachers can engage in what is called work to rule, which means that teachers will withdraw all those services, such as coaching or other extracurricular activities, that are not required in the collective agreement. Employers are entitled to lock out teachers or other bargaining groups, which simply means that they close the schools and stop paying salaries until the dispute is settled. Finally, employees can withdraw their services (strike) in an attempt to force their employer to come to an acceptable agreement with them. In spelling out the ways in which a contract is to be arrived at, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba have laid out procedures that specifically exclude the right of teachers to strike. In Nova Scotia and Quebec, strikes can occur only at the provincial level of bargaining. In Saskatchewan, bargaining provides two routes—one that involves binding arbitration, and one that involves the possibility of a strike. In the other provinces, strike or work-to-rule action and lockouts are retained as legitimate collective-bargaining possibilities.


Table 9.4 Stages in Dispute Resolution

province

conciliation institution(s) involved

mediation institution(s) involved

arbitration institution(s) involved

arbitration (voluntary or compulsory)

strikes (legal or illegal)

Newfoundland

1. Conciliation officer

 

Arbitration board

Voluntary

Legal

Prince Edward Island

2. Conciliation officer

 

Arbitration board

Compulsory

Illegal

Nova Scotia

1. Conciliation officer

Mediation officer

Arbitration board

Voluntary at provincial level

Legal at provincial level

 

2. Conciliation board

 

 

Compulsory at local level

Illegal at local level

New Brunswick

1. Conciliation officer or a commissioner

 

Arbitration tribunal

Voluntary

Legal

 

2. Conciliation board1

 

 

 

 

Quebec

Conciliation officer reclauses negotiated at the local or regional level

Mediator or board of mediation or public interest group reclauses negotiated at provincial level, except salaries and salary scales

Mediator–arbitrator reclauses negotiated at the local or regional level

Compulsory at the local/regional level (mediator–arbitrator)

Legal at provincial level except re salaries/salary scales for second and third years of three-year collective agreement

 

 

 

 

 

Illegal at local and regional level

Ontario

Fact-finder

Mediator

1. Single arbitrator

Voluntary

Legal

 

 

 

2. Arbitration board

 

 

Manitoba

Conciliation officer

 

Single arbitrator

Compulsory

Illegal

Saskatchewan

Conciliation board

1. Mediator

Arbitration board

Compulsory if mediation–arbitration option selected*

Legal at provincial and local levels if conciliation–strike option selected, but illegal if mediation–arbitration option selected*

 

 

2. Mediation team

 

Voluntary if conciliation-strike option selected

 

Alberta

Disputes inquiry board

Mediator

Single arbitrator or arbitration board

Voluntary

Legal

British Columbia

1. Fact-finder

Mediation officer

1. Single arbitrator

Voluntary

Legal

 

2. Public-interest inquiry board

 

2. Arbitration board

 

 

 

 

 

3. Mediator–arbitrator

 

 

 

 

 

4. Final offer selector

 

 

 

 

 

5. Special mediator**

 

 

*by september 21 for collective agreements expiring on december 31 (i.e., 101 days prior to the expiry date), the parties must select whether mediation–arbitration or conciliation–strike option will be invoked to resolve an impasse.

**where the commissioner of the industrial relations council is directed to resolve a dispute by the legislative assembly or the lieutenant-governor-in-council, one of the options available to him/her is the appointment of a special mediator. note that the pertinent sections of bill 19 (i.e., 137.97, 137.98, and 137.99) have not, as yet, been proclaimed into law.

1if a commissioner has not been appointed, a conciliation board may be appointed.

Source: Adapted from Canadian Teachers’ Federation. (1992, February). Economic Service Bulletin. Reproduced with permission.

 


Even though most provinces do allow teachers to strike as part of the collective-bargaining process, strike action by teachers remains a controversial issue that tends to generate fierce discussion within the profession. For some teachers, strike action and its impact on children’s education remains incompatible with their vision of teaching as a profession committed first and foremost to the well-being of their students. Conversely, others argue that it is precisely because they are committed to the well-being of their students that they must use all options available to them to ensure effective working conditions and salaries that will attract and retain the most talented graduates. In recent years several provincial governments have dealt with teacher strikes by passing legislation forcing teachers back to work and imposing some form of settlement. Despite the controversy, as long as teachers constitute an employee group whose wages and working conditions are set through collective bargaining, strikes are likely to continue as part of the bargaining process.

CONCLUSION
The purpose of discussing the professional status of teaching in Canada is not to establish a prescribed list of professional characteristics against which teaching must be ranked or to which it must aspire. Nor is it to make a self-interested case for teachers to be accorded greater status as professionals by society. Public-school teaching shares certain characteristics with other professions and differs markedly in other ways. An examination of these similarities and differences can offer insights into the unique characteristics of teaching as an essential and basically moral public service (professional or otherwise), and into the expectations and demands those characteristics make of teachers.
Codes of conduct adopted by teachers’ organizations provide a framework for defining appropriate behaviour for teachers, but as the prologue to this chapter suggested, there may be quite different ways for a teacher to act as a professional. And no matter what steps teachers themselves take, their status is in large measure shaped by others, especially provincial governments, whose actions they cannot control. In defining and pursuing avenues of professionalism, teachers’ organizations, whether they are regarded as professional associations or as unions, provide across Canada a strong and important structure for representing teachers’ interests and for promoting public education in Canada.

Key Terms
Arbitration p. 293
Conciliation p. 293
Final offer selection p. 293
Lock out p. 296
Mediation p. 293
Similitude argument p. 277
Strike p. 296
Work to rule p. 293

Exercises
1.   Consider the four definitions of a profession given in Table 9.1. Which definition do you prefer? Why? How well does teaching fit your chosen definition?

2.   Review the code of ethics for teachers in your province. Do you see any problems or inconsistencies in the code? If so, what are they and how might they be resolved?

3.   Interview one or two teachers about important ethical conflicts they have faced. (You will need to ensure that these discussions occur in a way that protects the confidentiality of all those involved.) How did the teachers resolve the conflicts they faced? Can you think of other ways they might have acted?

4.   A fellow teacher is using teaching practices you consider inappropriate, even unethical. What might you do? Assuming that you refer the matter to your principal, what if he or she refuses to take any action?

5.   School principals and vice principals usually strive to develop strong collegial ties with the teachers on their staff. Yet school boards expect them to represent the board’s management interests within their schools. Given these competing pressures, should principals and vice principals be allowed to be members of provincial teachers’ organizations, or should they have their own autonomous professional organizations?

6.   In the teaching profession, salaries are determined primarily by years of postsecondary education and experience, while layoffs are determined by who has least seniority. How else might these decisions be made? What are the merits or drawbacks of these alternatives?

7.   Discuss the conditions under which it may or may not be appropriate for a teacher to develop a personal friendship with a student. How do these constraints affect the practice of teaching?

8.   Write or telephone your provincial teachers’ association and ask for information on the range of activities and services it sponsors. How many staff are employed by the association? What is its annual budget?

9.   Write a description of the collective-bargaining process in your province. Who is involved? What steps occur? What mechanisms exist to resolve disputes?

10. Obtain a collective agreement for teachers in your province. What are the main provisions in the agreement? Are there any provisions you find surprising?

11. Compare a teachers’ collective agreement with a collective agreement from another workplace (e.g., a factory). In what respects—and why—do the agreements differ?

Further Reading
•     Goodlad, Soder, and Sirotnik (1990), Connell (1985), and Goodson and Hargreaves (1996) offer very useful examinations of teachers’ work and the question of assigning them professional status.
•     Rodrigue’s (2004) document outlines a perspective of teacher professionalism supported by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. Goodson’s (2003) book, entitled Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives, questions a purely practical definition of teacher professionalism. It advocates for an active notion of teachers’ professional knowledge that focuses on a teacher’s life and work, incorporating reflection and ideas of the teacher as a “public intellectual.”
•     Hoyle’s and John’s (1995) book, Professional Knowledge and Professional Practice deals with teaching as a profession, and the Manitoba Law Reform Commission’s (2004) work, Regulating Professions and Occupations provides a good discussion of professions and their claims to be self-regulating.
•     The Canadian Teachers’ Federation is an important source of material on the activities of teachers’ organizations across Canada. Within each province and territory, teachers’ organizations also provide reports and other materials, while information on bargaining procedures is usually found in provincial legislation.