Teachers will now be hired based on merit and diversity not seniority moving forward, says Ontario education minister.
Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s education minister announced Thursday that the province will revoke Regulation 274, a hiring practice based on seniority. “Moving forward, merit will lead hiring within our schools,” Lecce said during a news conference in Vaughan, Ontario. “Teacher hiring now in our schools will be dictated by merit, diversity, and the unique needs of schools and communities within our province over seniority.”
Lecce did not explain how the issues of merit and diversity would be handled exactly.
“This is about giving principals more flexibility to hire the very best teaching staff,” Lecce said.
The need for social distancing, smaller class sizes, and demand spikes for online learning has pushed schools to go on hiring sprees for more teachers. But schools have struggled to hire teachers quickly enough because of the “very restrictive elements imposed by Regulation 274” that prefers “seniority over skills, abilities, diversity and lived experiences of teachers,” said Lecce.
“When our principals need to hire an educator, they are constrained by an outdated process when they need to get qualified teachers into the class right now,” Lecce said.
“It’s crucial now more than ever as thousands of educators continue to be hired and to keep our schools safe we need to give our principals the latitude to get it done.”
Lecce also said that the change will also give younger educators equal opportunity to progress in their careers. Upon the revocation of Regulation 274 effective on Oct. 29, the Ontario education ministry will implement an interim policy/program memorandum in November so that principals can hire teachers through “fair and transparent processes,” said the ministry in a statement.
The move by the education ministry was welcomed by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA). The OPSBA posted a statement by its president Cathy Abraham on Twitter describing the repeal of 274 as “good news for school boards, students, and their communities.”
However, the ministry also receives criticism from The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.
“It is disappointing that the Minister of Education is utilizing the COVID crisis as an opportunity to attack the #onted fair hiring process and push through changes that will allow for nepotism in hiring,” wrote the federation.