Over recent months there have been some high profile stories in the media that concern Ontario’s schools, and even specifically schools in the 905 region. Some attracted a lot of media attention, and some attracted the sort of attention from far right groups that makes our stomach sink. 

But here’s the thing. Speak to a teacher, and it’s unlikely that the issues that have been prominent in the media are remotely what they see as the important challenges currently being faced in Ontario’s schools. Instead it is their feeling of a worsening risk from violence in the classroom, and a lack of tools and supports to handle students with sometimes very serious behavioural problems that we have found dominates their experience. This extends to a feeling that teachers are sometimes undermined by school administrators and board staff in their attempts to maintain basic order and a safe classroom, and that there is a wide culture of discouraging staff from making official reports of serious incidents.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, or EFTO, has made violence in schools one of its key priorities over the last half decade. We are therefore delighted today to be joined by Karen Brown, President of EFTO, to discuss this story in depth.

Karen began her career as a special education teacher with the Toronto District School Board in 1993. She has worked extensively in the area of autism and children’s mental health. Karen is passionate about the early years, and also holds a diploma in early childhood education. Since 2009, Karen has been a member of the ETFO provincial Executive, becoming president in 2021. She is committed to promoting equity, and social justice. 

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Nicholas Paul: sound editing.

The Quadrafonics: fantastic opening and closing tunes!