We asked readers whether they thought Ontario's move to halve the number of teacher-college grads and extend the time it takes to get a teaching degree to two years is a good idea. We received many responses from students in teachers college (or those considering applying), current teachers and others. Here is a sampling of the responses:
As a teacher candidate enrolled in a five-year concurrent education program with fears of finding a job upon graduation, I am happy to hear that competition will be reduced. However, I am concerned about doubling the length of time it takes to complete the program. The only way this would be worth it is if it provides far more practicum time, and does a better job of weeding out the incompetent teachers. A six-year concurrent education program would be ridiculous, as we are already beaten ad nauseum with the same busy-work and easy material over and over again.
Scott Harbin, Toronto
As an undergrad student, I find it ludicrous that the government is doubling the time it takes to get a degree in this field; it's another year of not being able to work in our field, and another year of debt. It's a complete cash grab on the part of the government, and fails to take into account jobs available outside Ontario.
Benjii Kreviazuk, Ottawa
I have my college diploma in early childhood education, and my degree in early childhood studies, and I don't see how one year for teachers college is long enough. Unless you already have a background in child development, educational theory, teaching practices, practical experience, behavioral guidance, special needs, assessment, and working with communities and families, how is one eight-month degree enough to give you all of this and more?
Daniel Gosson, Ottawa
As someone who moved to Ontario from Nova Scotia to get away from a two-year degree, I disagree. I was ready to teach; I knew it's what I wanted. My undergraduate experiences prepared me for the classroom, I had already clocked in several rehearsal, course, and volunteer hours and knew what a lesson plan was. As a full-time teacher who has witnessed quite a few student teachers in action, this is not always the case, as one could have little classroom experience and still get in to teachers college. I'm not sure raising tuition (by extending the program) is the best way to weed out the people who aren't meant to be there, perhaps a more stringent admissions process is in order? This money grab will only set future excellent educators even further behind as they struggle to begin and establish careers, which is difficult enough as it is.
Julie Malcolm, London, Ont.
Now teachers will have to complete six years of study. Better to make the teacher training program concurrent with undergraduate studies but provide in the field training full time for one year thereafter.
James Reynolds, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
We need better quality control coming out of faculties of education, and an effective method for weeding out bad teachers early in their careers. A two-year B. Ed will not accomplish these goals.
Bruce Lepage, Cobourg, Ont.
I believe so, having been a graduate of teachers college. It provides more time for practicum as well as more in-depth courses. Most of my learning was done during practicum and as a supply teacher.
Jenny Lee, Kingston
As a teacher my best learning came from being in the classroom and making mistakes. Teachers college should only be one year with more classroom experience as part of the curriculum. Teaching is a profession that relies on mentoring and the experience of other teachers to help new teachers learn. Seems like the two-year plan is a money grab for universities that are currently educating far more teachers than there are teaching jobs.
Deborah Haines, Toronto
Not only will it reduce the number of teachers looking for jobs, it will discourage those considering going into teaching for the wrong reasons. Those who are not deterred by the extended program are the ones you want teaching your kids; it's worth it to them.
Natalie Giorgio, Burlington, Ont.
I have a better question. Why are we still allowing students to obtain teaching qualifications out of the country? Why are foreign school allowed to offer teacher education here? Isn't this part of the problem? If the goal is to address the surplus by adding a year and reducing enrolment in Ontario, shouldn't the first step be the end of cross-border training?
Michelle Anderson, Campbellville, Ont.
What does this mean for qualified teachers that are not currently employed by the school boards? Will we be less desirable and should be take lots of courses to make ourselves stay in the job race?
Julie Noel, Cobourg, Ont.
It's the only choice they really have, outside of shutting teachers colleges down for a few years. A balance needs to be found between the number of teaching jobs available and the number of teachers waiting to be hired. They also need to consider forcing retirements and making it harder to be certified if you've gone outside of Ontario for your teacher education.
Kelly Santandrea, Burlington, Ont.
If the two years include significant placements for practice teaching in a variety of schools, this can be of benefit. Careful planning to make the two-year course meaningful would be important. However, it is not a good plan to reduce to number of teachers being trained. If this is the main reason, there are surely better ways of doing this. The cost of education is significant. Many potential good teachers may be screened out because of costs for the education.
Carol Powadiuk, Bayfield, Ont.
I think it is a very realistic approach to the situation. A lot of people want to be teachers simply for the idea of having summers off. I think a longer course structure may help getting teachers that chose a career as opposed to a job.
Steve Knight, Newmarket, Ont.