Media give anti-black perception of public schools

  • A class above: the first class of 27 boys and girls at the Berkeley Institute in 1897 with headteacher George DaCosta (Photograph courtesy of Carol D. Hill)

    A class above: the first class of 27 boys and girls at the Berkeley Institute in 1897 with headteacher George DaCosta (Photograph courtesy of Carol D. Hill)


Dear Sir,

Approximately 80 per cent of black children in Bermuda attend public school. To most, public education in Bermuda equals “the education of black children in Bermuda”.

Discussions about education in Bermuda have become fodder for those persons who, for racial, political or pathological reasons, feel the need to denigrate one of the foundations of our black children in Bermuda: their schools.

By consequence they denigrate our black students. The print media in Bermuda appears happy to help to feed that need.

The print media continually encourages bias against public schools by spending an inordinate amount of time on negative stories about the public school system. These stories, more often than not, convert to negativity about our black children. The print media does not do this to the foundations of white children and the historically private (white) schools in Bermuda, thus promoting the perception that they have no challenges and that they are perfect.

It is tiring and unnecessary for black children, their teachers and their parents to have to constantly play defence while continuing to motivate, encourage and praise.

Our black children spend their days in their schools preparing for what their parents and they hope is a bright future; just like all children and all parents. But when evil people are allowed to come on to The Royal Gazette blogs daily to malign and belittle everything that black children live for, it shows — for those cowardly, anonymous posters — a pathology of ingrained racism, mental illness, narcissism and a joy in being abusive. It is a dangerous situation that should not be encouraged.

Until 1965, private schools, other than the Seventh-day Adventists’, were all-white. Public schools and maintained schools were either all-black, all-white or all-Portuguese as designated — other than Bermuda Technical Institute, an all-boys school that was integrated.

The Berkeley Institute and Howard Academy, from their inception, welcomed all students, but no whites chose to attend.

This is the year 2019. The demographics of school attendance in Bermuda has changed very little. There now exists “domestic segregation” of schools in Bermuda. Most whites choose to send their children to private school, with the majority of the balance choosing to send their children to historically white-designated or Portuguese-designated public schools.

White expatriates are directed to the private schools, whether through their workplace, socially or by what they hear and read in the media. Most of the white expatriates who come from a public-school background in their home country, and whose children would go to public, neighbourhood schools in their home country, are acclimatised to the notion that they must segregate their children into private schools when they register them for school in Bermuda.

All education in Bermuda, whether public school or private school, is administered and controlled by the Bermuda Government’s Ministry of Education. All teachers in Bermuda are required to be qualified and to apply successfully for and hold a valid licence from the Bermuda Educators Council.

It is the opinion of this writer that print media is complicit in establishing the perception and maintaining the perception in Bermuda that public schools — that is black schools — are inefficiently administered, low-performing, socially disruptive, have ineffective teaching, lack best practice and are generally bad, and that private schools are perfect with advanced academic achievement, wonderful activities and trailblazing programmes. It is common public opinion that anything negative regarding private, or white, schools is historically and intentionally not published.

It is the further opinion of this writer that print media is hyper-focused on public education and aims to turn each initiative, each programme, each challenge and each attempt towards change into a case of negativity for the public’s view. The print media will sometimes spend three days telling the same negatively bent story, with no new information while in the same time frame print three positive articles about private schools.

Education is ever-evolving. When private schools attempt to change and modernise, while they garner millions of dollars in donations we hear only the positive. When public schools attempt to change and modernise, it is reported as confusion or theft and there is name-calling, insults and demeaning headlines and remarks.

It has been suggested that maybe the public school system does not promote its initiatives and programmes enough. Note, however, this negatively biased Royal Gazette intro of April 11, 2019: “A spin doctor for the crisis-hit, public-schools system is to be appointed, it has been revealed”, only to be followed in the comments section by:

• “Another utter waste”

• “If the Minister of Education and the Department of Education did their paid jobs efficiently, then there would be no need for a spin doctor to try and con the Bermuda public”

• “That all’s rosy in the education system when we all know it’s an utter disgrace“

• “A further attempt at propaganda to deceive the Bermudian public”

• “Utter waste of taxpayers’ treasure”

What a set-up by The Royal Gazette!

Public schools in Bermuda have been the trailblazers in most educational programmes and initiatives. Despite these programmes and initiatives being historically missing from private schools, most whites have not sent and will not send their children to public school.

Alas, this is not an argument regarding the pros and cons of public schools versus private schools. This is not a plea for white people to send their children to public school in Bermuda. Rather, this is a request for the media to show fairness and truthfulness when it comes to informing the public what is going on in the entire education sphere in Bermuda — private as well as public.

This is a plea for the media to cease its role in perpetuating and reinforcing that “public schools are bad and to be avoided” versus “the private schools are good and preferable” narrative; to cease using vocabulary that creates a historically prejudiced image that translates to racist stereotypes of black people in general and our black children in the school setting in particular; to cease allowing often nasty, defamatory, racist and abusive comments that show a negative bias towards, a disregard for and contempt towards our black children and their foundations.

We do not have “a failing public school system”. The media need to stop perpetuating that fallacy. We have students who don’t do well. We have average students and we have students who do extremely well. Public education caters to them all, for ever keeping up with best practice, for ever aiming, year after year, to improve domestic as well as international outcomes.

The protection of our black children, their families and their institutions is as important as protecting all children and the foundations for their growth and success in this community. Their foundations should not be left open for evil-spirited persons to spew hatred and bias in an attempt at maintaining the insane and antiquated ideal of white superiority.

As an aside, just imagine if we didn’t, in this small stadium-sized country of 60,000, have that “domestic segregation”. Think how far our resources would go. Everyone would support all Bermuda’s children equally and fairly.

Imagine how our white children would not be cruelly forced to think that they must separate themselves and think less of their other-coloured and other-cultured peers; peers who can have positive influences on each other.

We could eliminate a lot of ills and carve a promising future for all of our children and, as a result, our country.

CHERYL-ANN GRIFFIN

Smith’s

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Published May 20, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated May 20, 2019 at 7:31 am)

Media give anti-black perception of public schools

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