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Better schools

The chairmen of the Board of Education and their Ministers have not always seen eye to eye in recent years, so it was good to see current chairman Darren Johnston backing Minister Dame Jennifer Smith this week.

As Bermuda tries to improve public education, it helps if the Minister and the Board are in agreement on the goals and most of the means of getting there. That's not to say that there will not be disagreements and debates; there will and should be. But a basic consensus on raising standards of teaching, giving schools more autonomy and focusing on learning is key.

This may be blazingly obvious, but too often educators get tied up in other issues to the detriment of the students. Similarly, reducing the bureaucracy of the Department of Education is essential. Mr Johnston also referred to the Mincy Report when he was being interviewed by

The Royal Gazette, and its clear message is that many of the problems confronting young black males can be traced back to their lack of educational attainment compared to their peers.

But that lesson is also applicable generally. Study after study has shown that achievement in the adult world is tied directly to educational success. There will always be exceptions, but the overall trend is clear. And if Bermuda is to thrive in the future, it must have a skilled and educated workforce.

The public schools are headed in the right direction. The Cambridge curriculum is now in place. Teachers must now be certified. But much more needs to be done. Schools and principals need more autonomy, and soon. And parents have a right to know how their children's schools compare to others. Not publicising results simply allows bad schools to continue to fail their students. The process of removing bad teachers also needs to be streamlined.

All of this needs to be done while budgets are shrinking. But it can be done. Lack of money is not the problem. Making better use of the money in the budget is the solution.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 9:20 am)

Better schools

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