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Ontario teachers settle labour complaint; early reading screening tool not mandated

TORONTO — Two Ontario teachers’ unions say they have settled unfair labour practice complaints against the government, with the province agreeing not to mandate an early reading screening tool for the upcoming school year.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association accused the government two weeks ago of failing to bargain in good faith by issuing the new requirement since it is a topic of discussion in negotiations.

The four major teachers’ unions have been in bargaining for a new contract with the government for more than a year and three say they are planning strike votes this fall.

A new policy announced by Education Minister Stephen Lecce earlier this year would have required teachers to use an early reading screening tool in senior kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2.

A joint statement Wednesday from ETFO and OECTA says while they firmly believe that every child has the right to learn to read, their contracts include language on the ability of teachers to exercise their professional judgement when choosing and conducting diagnostic tests to meet student needs.

They say they reached settlements Tuesday in which the government confirms the early reading screening tool won’t be mandatory for the 2023-24 school year and that educators will continue to “use their expertise to identify and address students’ unique individual needs.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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