Pentagon Diversity Push Not Reflected In New Hires

The province is scrapping teacher seniority hiring rules, saying they prevent the best applicants from getting jobs and are a roadblock during a pandemic as schools try to quickly add new staff.

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Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday that teachers should be hired on merit and announced an end to the controversial Regulation 274.

The regulation makes seniority a part of the hiring process. The five qualified candidates who have the most seniority must be interviewed for any available long-term or full-time positions. That rule was watered down slightly for English Catholic teachers, who in the last contract agreed that 35 per cent of new hires are exempt from the seniority rules.

“Every young person in Ontario deserves to have the best, most qualified teacher at the front of their class,” Lecce said at a press conference.

Lecce said the regulation hampers schools from hiring a diverse staff that reflects the school and community.

For example, in the Peel region, half of the students are racialized, but fewer than 25 per cent of school staff are, he said.

Schools “are not seeing the representation of qualified teachers from many backgrounds that define our province’s rich diversity,” said Lecce. “The classrooms simply do not reflect our province, and that is a problem.

“We also know that when schools reflect the community around them, there are immediate and long-term positive impacts on those students. Better achievement. More consistent attendance, higher graduation (rates) and post-secondary education as well.”

The change will also allow principals to hire teachers more quickly, said Lecce. The process of interviewing five candidates slows things down, he said.

School boards have added about 2,000 teachers this year to help reduce class sizes.

The issue of seniority in hiring has long been a contentious one between the government and teachers’ unions.

Unions have opposed changes, saying the current process is more transparent and that only qualified candidates get an interview.

The hiring rules were implemented in 2012 after complaints by Catholic teachers about alleged favouritism by principals when hiring teachers.

The union representing English elementary teachers criticized Thursday’s announcement, saying Regulation 274 “brings fairness to hiring & diversity objectives.

“It is disappointing that the Minister of Education is utilizing the COVID crisis as an opportunity to attack the (Ontario education) fair hiring process and push through changes that will allow for nepotism in hiring,” the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario tweeted.

The union representing English high school teachers said there was no evidence the regulation caused a lack of diversity in hiring.

“While Lecce has couched this repeal of the regulation as an effort to pursue diversity in hiring, our fear is that it is likely to result in the opposite as nepotism comes roaring back to life,” the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said in a statement. “In the absence of a transparent and fair hiring system, biases can continue unchecked.”

The announcement comes as many school boards are having trouble finding enough occasional teachers to fill in for staff who are sick or in self-isolation.

A survey of boards in September found that 76 per cent reported a shortage of occasional teachers, said Lecce. “It’s worse today.”

He said it’s unacceptable that some boards have resorted to using people who are not qualified teachers to supervise classes.

The associations representing Ontario English school boards and principals both applauded the move to throw out Regulation 274.

The regulation also hampered the ability of teachers to move between school boards and principals and vice-principals to return to teaching, said the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.

The principals’ group said its members want to take into account factors such as the teacher applicant’s subject matter expertise, classroom management skills and knowledge of the community.

jmiller@postmedia.com 

twitter.com/JacquieAMiller

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/ontario-will-end-teacher-hiring-rules-based-on-seniority-says-education-minister/ar-BB1a3TvN

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