Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced that the government is revoking Clause 274 in the Education Act, a clause that forced school board to hire substitute teachers based on seniority rather than qualifications. A Government news released reads, “for nearly a decade, teachers in this province have been hired through a convoluted system that preferred seniority over skills, abilities, diversity and lived experiences of teachers. In a time where teacher hiring is necessary to ensure students get the best education possible, these changes will further enable principals to swiftly hire the best candidate so they can focus on improving the quality of education and helping our students be the best that they can be.
The release says the government consulted with school principal and their associations in 20 and that the Ontario Principals’ Council, cited several concerns with the regulation, including the inability to hire the best teacher for the position, and supported the revocation of the regulation.
The province’s cancelling of the hiring rule comes into effect October 29, and will stay in place until school boards develop their own teacher hiring policies consistent with guidelines to be issued in November.
The government release stated, “For too many years, our newer and younger educators have been left behind, and they deserve equal opportunity for progression. By putting students first, we will empower school principals to hire the best teacher for each and every classroom, and not the teacher who has simply been in the school board the longest.”
Making the announcement today Lecce said it was important for students to see themselves reflected in their schools, citing the example of a young black student Lecce spoke to who said that in his entire elementary and high school career he had only seen one black teacher. Teacher hiring will now be based on merit, diversity and the unique needs of communities in our province over seniority.
“This is about giving school principals the authority to hire the very best teaching staff. It is crucial now as thousands of teachers continue to be hired. We have an obligation to revert the system to where the best teacher leads the way, “ the minister said.
He said the current regulations also impede the ability of principals to make hires immediately at a time when many teachers are off work dur to COVID.