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Check out Monday, April 19,2010 headline in the Globe & Mail. “Ontario schools waste millions keeping retirees on the job. Struggling school boards spend $16.7 last year paying pensioners for supply work at a higher scale instead of hiring new teachers.”

The University of Western Ontario, Althouse College, had eight thousand applications in 2008. You had to have a minimum of a three year Bachelor Degree to be eligible to apply. Eight hundred students graduated in June 2009

The numbers are staggering across the province. Every year there are 16,000 applicants to Ontario Education programs. Of those 8,000 are accepted. As much as there is a teacher surplus in the province there’s no shortage of people who want to be teachers.

I called Frank McIntyre, Manager of Human Resources for the Ontario College of Teachers to discover the truth/consequences of obtaining related employment for the grads.

Many education graduates found lean picking when they searched for their first Ontario teaching jobs. Only two in five (41%) of the grads found regular employment by the Spring of 2009

The stats are not in for 2009 yet but Frank’s prognosis is worse for this years grads. The gap between graduating and retiring teachers is at a record high. About 7,000 new Elementary/Secondary graduates are left out of the teaching profession every year. New teachers have to compete for jobs with large number of surplus teachers because of declining enrollments we have in Ontario.

With the decline in the graduate employment numbers you could assume that the colleges of education are cutting back on their student numbers. Wrong, They have kept the same compliment of student/professor class size.

The problem is further complicated with off-shore faculties of education. The government has allowed the College of Teachers to accredit US colleges allowing them to generate even more teachers. You can’t blame the students for trying to get their credentials anywhere possible.
The teachers who are under contract to the Boards of Education are not so keen on going into retirement when they reach the magic 85 factor ;years of service along with age will get you a full pension. In 2009 there were 12,434 newly certified teachers and only 5,325 retirements. Do the math and we have a difference of 7,109 new teachers looking for a teaching position.

Teachers who retire can in their first three years of retirement opt to substitute teach for ninety-five days a year. They still receive full pension benefits, with absolutely no penalty to their pensions. No UI, Teacher’s Pension Plan deductions. Last year there was a shortfall in the Pension Plan projections with the public responsible to make up the difference. Simple math, there is one contract teacher compared to 2.1 teachers who are receiving pension benefits. Hard for a new graduating student to get on the supply list.

In 2009 32% of graduates were hired on as a first year teacher. 38% were underemployed in their first year of teaching and 22% were not in a regular job by the third year after graduating.

French/Technical teachers are still in demand but there are dismal prospects for the rest of our young graduates of the Colleges of Education.

We all lose when we allow retired teachers to double-dip. The retirees who substitute teach for 10 days or more can earn $400.00 per day which is often more then they received when working full time. The rookies earn the basic salary of $201.00 per day supply teaching.

The young smart hard working recent graduates from our Teacher’s Colleges are forced to find employment in South East Asia. Many simply give up and leave their chosen profession before they get their chance to make a difference. They speak with their feet when they leave London behind after we have spent our hard earned taxes to educate them.

My solution is to change the system to allow retired teachers to work for a maximum of twenty days a year for Ontario public boards of education.

Students. parents you now have the facts on the future prospects of earning a living in teaching. Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware before you set your heart on teaching in Ontario. Please read the warning signs, ‘NO HELP WANTED’.

Please call your MLA and express your view.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com