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Education: A lack of flexibility in human resource management benefits incompetent teachers

  • Out of 111,000 Quebec teachers, four were fired for incompetence over the past five years.

Montreal, August 24, 2023 – Greater flexibility in the hiring and firing of teachers would substantially improve the quality of education in Quebec, notes a Montreal Economic Institute study released this morning.

“The harmful effect of a bad teacher on the development of students is such that it can’t be tolerated,” explains Vincent Geloso, senior economist at the MEI and author of the study. “Unfortunately, Quebec students are paying the price for teachers who remain on the job despite their lack of ability.”

Over the past five years, four teachers out of a total of 111,000 were fired for incompetence in Quebec school boards, according to data obtained by the MEI. This represents 0.0036 per cent of the province’s teachers.

Another MEI study from 2016 found similar results, having counted just seven Quebec teachers fired for incompetence between 2010 and 2015.

Last spring, the case of an elementary school teacher in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac terrorizing her students by shouting at them in class caught the public’s attention in Quebec.

The authors recommend decentralizing the management of teaching personnel, giving school administrators more power over hiring and firing.

In order to introduce some competition, the study also recommends allowing parents to choose their children’s school, rather than the current system which assigns spots by postal code. In such a system, the money would follow the student, rewarding school administrations based on quality of education.

“By leaving school choice to government instead of letting parents decide, Quebec’s school system does not encourage excellence in education,” concludes Mr. Geloso. “We need to give power back to parents and school administrators, rather than government bureaucrats, so that the best teachers will be rewarded.”

The MEI study is available here.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank with offices in Montreal and Calgary. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship. 

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