TORONTO, Ont. – Education Minister Laurel Broten criticized a move by Ontario elementary teachers to minimize comments on students’ report cards, but the teachers’ union maintained it is not violating policy.
Union leaders have advised their members to write the bare minimum on fall progress reports — such as a sentence versus a paragraph to protest the province’s controversial wage-freeze bill.
“Today’s directive to teachers is another disappointing step that Ontario families and students should not have to endure,” Broten said.
“Teachers have every right to express their concerns with the government but not by taking actions that put at risk the success of our students.”
She urged the union to rescind its advice to teachers.
“Ontario parents deserve to know how their children are doing at school this fall — not to have their learning progress put in the middle of a dispute that doesn’t involve them,” she said.
“I ask teachers to please keep the kids out of their debate.”
Broten said she has invited ETFO president Sam Hammond to a meeting early next week in an effort to move forward together.
Hammond said he is looking forward to meeting with the minister in a statement.
“ETFO has always been willing to sit down with the Minister and engage in a fair discussion process.”
“However the government’s ‘take it or leave it’ approach since February has precluded any meaningful discussion.”
He added that the advice to teachers abides by the Ministry of Education policy documents.
“We’ve also made it very clear in our advice to members that where students are having difficulties, teachers provide more detailed information to parents through the progress report.”
Hammond said teachers are providing what is necessary in progress reports and through parent-teacher interviews.
“Contrary to the minister’s statement today, ETFO provided advice — not a directive — to members about the fall progress reports,” he said. “We’ve also made it very clear that where students are having difficulties, teachers provide more detailed information to parents.”