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Lakehead preventing prospective teachers from working: student

'When the Ontario College of Teachers, the union and the board want to hire me and my school is saying no, it’s crazy to me,' says frustrated Lakehead student
Ethan Angi says Lakehead University won't allow him and other students in the bachelor of education program to obtain emergency-based jobs until they complete a third placement, while most universities require just two placements.

A local student is furious with Lakehead University after refusing to certify its bachelor of education students for the Ontario College of Teachers’ emergency certification.

Ethan Angi, who is from Oro-Medonte, says Lakehead is one of just three universities in Ontario refusing to allow students to work in the classroom through the emergency certification.

He says teaching students from other universities are being certified to become emergency-based teachers after just two completed placements while Lakehead is demanding students wait until three placements are completed, despite meeting the requirements set by the Ontario College of Teachers.

“The teacher shortage has gotten so bad that certain boards are calling parents to come and teach with no teaching experience,” Angi said. “If I had chosen to go to Trent, Nipissing or Laurentian, I’d be a certified teacher right now.”

Angi, 36, says the Simcoe Country District School Board has offered him a job, but he is not able to accept it until he earns his emergency certification.

“I’ve pleaded with the dean to at least treat it like a case-by-case basis,” he said. “When the Ontario College of Teachers, the union and the board want to hire me and my school is saying no, it’s crazy to me.”

Angi is calling on Lakehead to follow suit with most other Ontario universities and allow students to teach on an emergency basis after two placements.

“(Lakehead) sent us an email saying that if we have family obligations, work a lot of hours, or have other priorities, you are not going to succeed in our program,” he said. “At the same time, they aren’t letting us work flexible jobs with more money to allow us to pay for their tuition.”

A "culture of fear" has been created on campus, Angi says. He accuses Lakehead administrators of bullying students by limiting their opportunities.

In an emailed statement to OrilliaMatters, Wayne Melville, Lakehead’s dean of the faculty of education, says upon the announcement of the regulation changes governing the temporary teacher certificate (TTC), the Ministry of Education made it clear faculties of education "retained absolute authority in setting eligibility criteria for applicants" for the certificate.

“Based on the criteria and guidelines communicated by the Ontario College of Teachers, the faculty of education at Lakehead University made the decision to not recommend Year 1 teacher candidates (students in the second semester of a four-semester program) for the TTC,” he said.

Melville says the well-being of teacher candidates with limited experience taking on the role of professional teacher, the safety and learning of students in the classroom, and the level of support available on site to teacher candidates assuming full-time teaching responsibilities were a few of the factors that guided the decision.

He says Lakehead is focused on “ensuring students successfully complete their teacher education programs and head into the classroom with a strong theoretical foundation and practical experience versus the ability to pursue a short-term paid position.”