Residents back teachers on sick-out
Residents have given top marks to teachers who staged a mass sick-out.
Members of the public told The Royal Gazette the Bermuda Government should give teachers what they need to do their jobs, tackle long-running concerns about the state of the island’s schools and stop wasting money on administration.
The Bermuda Union of Teachers took action on Monday after it claimed the Ministry of Education had not listened to its complaints about a new standards-based grading system, training for teachers, staffing levels, technology problems, and health and safety fears.
The Gazette took to the streets in Hamilton to assess the level of support for the teachers’ industrial action.
Josie Richardson, 56, said: “Even though it’s unfortunate, they have to take a stand sometimes in order to let the senior management and Government know that they’re serious. I do support the teachers.
“I think it’s very important that the teachers have the tools that they need in order to do their jobs and they can’t do their jobs effectively if they don’t have the proper tools.
“The wellbeing of our children is the most important thing.”
One man, who is married to a public-school teacher and asked not to be named, said: “This problem has been going on for a number of years in Bermuda, and it’s finally coming to a head.
“There is a very heavy administration problem in the Bermuda educational system that has to be dealt with.
“Unfortunately, the action that needs to be taken is going to be very difficult because it’s going to impact people.
“At some point, you need to make sure that the costs that are going to the facilities and administration are actually being put into the right places — the children’s education.”
One Hamilton man, who also asked not to be named, said he opposed the teachers’ stand.
He said: “I feel for the students because they missed out on school and were affected.
“I know about the financial difficulties that teachers are facing, especially with the Bermuda Government and what’s going on with their supplies.
“I do understand where the teachers are coming from, but I don’t believe that they should have done it in that way.”
A woman who also asked not to be named, said: “I probably would have preferred a different approach primarily because I like the Minister of Education and he seems to be doing everything he can to improve our educational system.”
Another woman said she had sat on a parent-teacher association.
She added there was “never enough supplies” and “always a lot of politics within the system”.
The woman said: “Just give the teachers their supplies.
“They shouldn’t have to send lists every year asking for toilet paper, paper towels, pencils and so on. That should be supplied to our children.”
“Allow the teachers to do their job and do it to the best of their ability.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about politics, it’s about our children.
“So to separate it out of the Government’s hands would be a fantastic idea because that way the principals will do what they have to do for our children.”
Raven Pearman, 25, said that the strike was “definitely warranted”.
Ms Pearman, who wants to be a teacher, added: “I feel like the Government should fix the problem. Why would they allow our youth to be sick? It’s terrible to even think about the schools covered in black mould, and they’re doing nothing about it.
“I wouldn’t want to be in a school full of black mould, and I definitely wouldn’t want the children to be there.
“I would be on strike so that the students wouldn’t have to be there.”
A poll on The Royal Gazette’s Twitter profile found 79 our of 96 voters were in support of the teachers, but a Gazette Facebook poll found 78 in support and 88 against.
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