“ETFO represents approximately 83,000 members, including public elementary teachers, occasional teachers, education support personnel, professional support personnel and designated early childhood educators. ETFO provides protective and professional services for members and promotes equity and social justice within the education system and the broader society. ETFO is a social justice and equity-seeking organization” (ETFO, 2023).
Did I need to introduce ETFO to you? I don’t think so, but I wanted to ensure I shared that with you in case you did not know. ETFO advocates for equitable educational practices and equitable justice for all public elementary educators to position these educators as the changemakers we need in the education system.
Conferring on July 1, 1998, “ETFO continued the work of two federations that had worked to promote and protect the interests of public school educators for 80 years. ETFO’s two predecessors were the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) and the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation (OPSTF).” There was much in the works, and much at stake during the time of this transition, but “elementary teachers proved once again they were up to the challenge” (Ritcher, 2006).
I urge you to take some time to get to know ETFO’s history, mainly to understand the consistency of ETFO as a social justice advocate and equity-seeking organization that has remained steadfast through the ages. Becoming familiar with ETFO’s history will provide a deeper understanding of ‘The Plan’ that ETFO has launched as a guide for revitalizing public elementary education.
As stated in It’s Elementary (2018), the following are five frames by which you can understand the position in the fight for social justice and equity for public elementary school educators.
1) Federations work steadfastly to promote and protect the interests of their members.
2) Federations were, and continue to be, leaders in advocating for the rights of teachers and the broader society.
3) Funding for elementary education has been an issue since the 1800s.
4) Legal or collective agreement rights are never entirely secure; the union and its members have had to be vigilant in keeping elementary education issues in the public eye and on the government agenda.
5) The union’s strength depends on its ability to build member trust and solidarity for its work” (ETFO, 2018).
These have been ETFO’s guiding principles since its inception. This is the work ETFO continues to do, Building Better Schools by creating and fostering opportunities for culturally responsive growth and development within the Elementary Public school system for educators and learners.
Let us take the time to look closely at the 9-pronged plan for building better schools.
- Addressing Anti-Black Racism
- A funding formula that works for kids
- A single secular school system for Ontario
- A stronger voice for your educators and their union
- Enriching student learning
- Inclusive classrooms
- Smaller classes for everyone
- Support for students with special needs
- Testing rooted in learning
As educators who desire equitable learning environments for all students, let us all take the time to ‘Join the Campaign’ and “protect our public education system so we can build better schools for everyone.”
Take a moment to reflect:
- How does this challenge you to get involved with your union?
- What attitudes, beliefs, or ideas do you need to change or adopt to bolster this needed plan?
- What challenges do you think might arise as this plan unfolds?
- How can you support ETFO (your union) in surmounting these challenges?
- What skills/attributes can you contribute to your local or provincial office?
As Sharon O’Halloran (Deputy General Secretary, ETFO) said in the ETFO Voice, winter 2022 edition, “Our Victories Prove We Are Stronger When We Work Together.”
Building Better Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.buildingbetterschools.ca/