This “PARENTS' GUIDE” is intended to help you fill out the board’s “DRAFT PROFESSIONALISM POLICY FEEDBACK”, located at the end of the most recent board minutes. CLICK HERE to read the survey.
If you are a member of the Halton District School Board community, please search your email for the email with the link to the online survey and fill it out by March 12, 2023.
If the actual survey that you received differs from the DRAFT, then there might be a need for PAFE to alter the advice offered below. If you find that this advice does not match the actual survey, PLEASE take a screenshot of the actual survey and send to it us at [email protected] We will adjust the advice, if necessary.
THREE MAIN SECTIONS
Other than basic introductory and concluding material, the DRAFT survey has three main sections: 1) Objectives and 2) Guiding Principles 3) Questions regarding the EFFECTIVENESS of the DRAFT PROFESSIONALISM POLICY.
For the section on “Objectives” the survey should first provide you a three-paragraph statement on “Objectives,” followed by four (4) descriptive statements about the “objectives”, and each statement should give you seven (7) possible options: “strongly agree, agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, disagree, strongly disagree and unsure.”
PAFE ADVICE, and rationale: In PAFE’S view, all four statements deserve a vote of “STRONGLY DISAGREE” in the “Objectives” section.
Why? The “statements” all pertain to them being “clear” or “reasonable” or having some other such merit. Respectfully, the “Objectives” FAIL in the final paragraph, which states that the “purpose of this Policy is to consolidate and affirm existing expectations regarding staff professionalism, including dress and decorum…”. In PAFE’s view, the “purpose” of any new Halton District School Board policy on “Professionalism” should be to completely REJECT the existing policy, a policy that tolerated, and tolerates, and permits, the sort of apparel and behaviour that we saw at Oakville Trafalgar High School
Further, while the “Objectives” rightly mention students’ “right to learn in a safe, inclusive and accepting environment,” there is no definition of what “safe” means, or should mean. In PAFE’s view, any definition of safe, or safety when it comes to the students’ classroom experience, needs to include, among other things, the idea of safety from being sexualized by the behaviour of their teachers.
PAFE ADVICE: If the final survey allows for comments/ additional feedback regarding the “Objectives” of the Policy, we advise the following:
- Please do not mention anyone’s proper name in your comments.
- Please say this policy, as currently written, is “unacceptable”, and it is unacceptable because it explicitly commits to a position to “consolidate and affirm existing expectations regarding staff professionalism, including dress and decorum.” The current and “existing expectations” are the problem, and these existing expectations have been a complete failure. We need a policy that will set higher expectations, expectations that will clearly prohibit the type of behaviour exhibited by the shop teacher in 2022.
- Please also point out that, while the proposed policy rightly states that students have the right to learn in a “safe” environment, the very term “safety” is not defined in the draft document. The term “safety” should be defined in such a way as to include protection from sexualization at the hands of teachers of the sort that we have seen on display in the Oakville school in 2022.“GUIDING PRINCIPLES” section.
The section on “Guiding Principles” will provide several paragraphs, each citing an important public document, such as decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Ontario College of Teachers, regulations made under the Ontario College of Teachers Act, and the HDSB Code of Conduct.
The key paragraph is the one referring to Ontario “Reg. 437/97 made under the Ontario College of Teachers Act 1996” which defines teacher ‘professional misconduct” as including “an act or omission that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional” or “conduct unbecoming a member.”
PAFE ADVICE, and rationale: In PAFE’S view, all five statements deserve a vote of “STRONGLY DISAGREE” in the “Guiding Principles” section.
Why? All of the statements boast of the “Guiding Principles” having a certain clarity or sufficiency, but considering that the “Guiding Principles” do not make any provision that would consider the sort of apparel/behaviour that was on display at Trafalgar Road High School in 2022 to be “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional” or “conduct unbecoming a member.” The Guiding Principles are, accordingly, too vague and insufficient.
If the final survey allows for comments/ additional feedback regarding the “Guiding Principles” of the Policy, we advise saying that the policy needs to clarify that teacher behaviour which sexualizes children is included in behaviour that is considered unprofessional and unbecoming.
The final section asks you to “rate how effective do you feel the policy will be in the achieving the following objectives”. The draft survey contained ten (10) “statements” regarding “effectiveness”. In PAFE’s view, the “statements” fall into two categories:
- Statements that deserve an answer of “UNSURE” because the statement asserts that the policy, which is, by its own admission, designed to affirm the current DISASTROUS policy will be effective in continuing the status quo. In a way, this policy will surely be “effective” in continuing the status quo, but this hardly deserves an affirming “effective” response.
- Statements that are clearly and ambiguously of the “NO EFFECTIVENESS” variety. Example: “It demonstrates respect for public education and each student’s right to learn in a safe, inclusive and accepting environment”. For reasons mentioned above, the vague draft policy will do NOTHING to help the safety of students. Here is another example: “It promotes a positive school climate”. Again, no. “NO EFFECTIVENESS”.
ADVICE: The easiest and perhaps clearest way to make a statement is to vote “NO EFFECTIVENESS” to all of the statements. If you don’t want to do that, then vote “UNSURE” to all of the statements.
And that’s it!
Slowly, but surely, we are turning the ship around! But we can’t stop now. There is too much at stake for the children of the Halton District School Board!
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