Enough with the complaining, now is the time for action

Dear Sir,

As a parent, I know it is my responsibility to ensure that my children have everything they need to succeed. What I expect from the Bermuda public-school system is an equal dedication to their success.

After five years in the public-school system, my family have been blessed to encounter compassionate and dedicated teachers and administrators at every level. As a regular volunteer, I routinely witness staff going above and beyond for students and their families, oftentimes without the support and resources they need. Despite this, the common refrain in the community is that teachers and administrators do not care and are unwilling to commit to the success of their students.

As I reflect on recent events, I hope and pray that we are now reaching the long-awaited tipping point when students, parents, teachers, ministry and Department of Education officials, and the wider community will no longer complain among themselves, or more recently online, but will collectively put their shoulder to the wheel for the long road to reform.

For parents, sometimes we need to parent better. Too many students are arriving each day to school ill-equipped for academic and life success. When we fall short as parents, we want teachers to do their jobs when our words at home and in the community encourage disrespect for them and the work they do.

High expectations of our teachers and schools must begin with equally high expectations of ourselves.

For educators, some need to do better, too. I cannot imagine the frustrations you experience every day, but I am sympathetic and I do my level best each day with my children to make your job easier. There are well-known inefficiencies within the Ministry of Education, as well as the Department of Education, that appear endless and unnecessary. Procedures seem onerous or nonexistent and a basic request can be met with resistance for no obvious reason or explanation.

I also know from experience that spending every day in a frustrating and discouraging environment is mentally and physically exhausting, but I encourage you to remain focused on educating Bermuda’s young people. Please press on; your work is very much appreciated.

For the community, please resist blanket statements on the abilities and motivations of public-school teachers and similarly sweeping statements about the successes or potential of our public-school students. I have seen many a press release or news article referencing a public-school student, class or school promptly put down as an anomaly, no matter how often they appear.

How do we find ourselves in this awful place? I don’t know, but it saddens me every time I see it.

I am not invested in party politics, but I did expect that a government elected with such an emphatic victory and a mandate to move Bermuda forward would do so with great urgency in the fundamental area of education. This has not happened.

Those now charged with directing Bermuda’s finances must consider how to best allocate funds to produce real and lasting change because it will not happen in the absence of resources and programmes to support student and teacher safety and success. Determining which minister, political party, union or system change is to blame is irrelevant and does nothing to move the country forward from where we are. But be assured that the time for moving forward is now.

Despite the challenges, I remain a public-school parent who wants the best for my children and every child in the public-school system. I believe I will see success with my children in all areas of their lives and I want that same confidence for every parent whose child sits alongside my own because we all deserve it.



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Published Dec 14, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 14, 2018 at 7:51 am)

Enough with the complaining, now is the time for action

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