Montreal, August 11, 2017 – The proposal from the Quebec Liberal youth wing to create a professional order for teachers has the merit of reviving debate on education, but deeper reforms are needed to enhance the role of teachers and to promote excellence in Quebec schools.
“We should welcome the young Liberals’ desire to bring change to the education system and to enhance the teaching profession, but creating a professional order is not the best solution. We need to go further than that,” says Germain Belzile, Senior Associate Researcher at the MEI. “An order will not bring greater autonomy to schools, greater choice to parents or merit-based pay. These are simple changes that would boost the profession while advancing our children’s academic achievement,” he adds.
Performance pay, for example, encourages excellence among teachers and helps improve the quality of the school system. It is perfectly normal for the best teachers to be better paid than their lower-achieving colleagues. We should note that it is extremely difficult to fire an incompetent teacher in Quebec: of the 58,000 permanent teachers in the public sector, only seven were fired for incompetence between 2010 and 2015.
“We should also give teachers and principals more power to select course content and teaching methods while rewarding or sanctioning them based on results,” Mr. Belzile suggests. “Teachers with greater autonomy in their work are happier and therefore more effective. Autonomy in teaching helps enrich what is provided and offers alternative models to students, who have varied abilities and interests and who learn in different ways.”
Promoting competition between schools and giving parents greater choice should be a key focus of any school system reform.
“We also need to question the relevance of school boards and to welcome the possibility of decentralizing school management,” Mr. Belzile adds. “Not only could we avoid certain administrative costs, but reducing bureaucracy would also help schools adjust more easily to their clientele and innovative in educational services.”
“These reform ideas have been applied successfully in various countries, as several of our publications on this topic have pointed out,” concludes Michel Kelly-Gagnon, MEI President and CEO. “They would be far more effective than a professional order in helping teachers, parents and, above all, children.”
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