HALIFAX, NS: Certifying teachers and regulating the teaching profession has emerged as a critical policy issue. A research paper published today by AIMS shows that the current system in Nova Scotia and several other Canadian provinces is characterized by an absence of adequate regulatory oversight and feeble enforcement of teaching standards. The study calls for the creation of a new independent Teacher Regulation Branch to uphold professional standards and ensure the validity and quality of professional degree and additional qualification programs inside and outside of Canada.
The report’s title is “Maintaining Spotless Records: Professional Standards, Teacher Misconduct and the Teaching Profession.” The authors are Paul W. Bennett, the founding director of Schoolhouse Consulting and an Adjunct Professor of Education at Saint Mary’s University and Karen Mitchell, who served as a Member of the Governing Council of the Ontario College of Teachers from 1997-2005. The new paper asks the provocative question “whatever happened to teaching standards?”
The authors show that in Nova Scotia and several other Canadian provinces, establishing and maintaining professional standards has, in practice, been delegated to provincial teachers’ unions and federations. This often results in loose and ineffective standards that ensure “spotless records” for nearly all teachers. “The teaching profession is facing a crisis of confidence, and the situation now calls for a major reform of teacher certification and regulation,” said Dr. Bennett.
Utilizing Nova Scotia as an example, the AIMS policy paper makes the case for adopting a more robust provincial policy regime to ensure the highest teaching standards as well as to ‘weed-out’ so-underperforming teachers and so-called “bad apples” who pose risks to students. Bennett and Mitchell call on Nova Scotia to follow the lead of British Columbia by establishing a new, more independent Teacher Regulation Branch with a clear mandate to raise professional teaching standards, rebuild public trust, properly vet teacher education programs, and safeguard students in the schools.
Paul W. Bennett
Director, Schoolhouse Consulting
Director of Research and Programmes, Atlantic Institute for Market Studies