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Confused signals and public reaction

Most of us are not privy to detailed information regarding decisions by those in authority on a number of important issues, especially when it involves consideration for a Bermudian to fill the post of Commissioner of Education. Having had someone hired from overseas who fell so terribly short in performance that he had to be dismissed, it leaves one wondering about the selection process.

Officials involved in that process should not be surprised when the public raise questions about why Bermudian educators with numerous qualifications are not able to meet requirements for that post. Unless there is some startling factor yet to be disclosed as to why the person to fill that post should be brought from overseas, people are left puzzled.

The previous education commissioner from overseas was a dismal failure and shattered confidence that everything was being done to promote qualified Bermudians. It created a perception that Bermudians were being bypassed at a time when we hear so much about putting Bermudians first.

Everyone knows there are times when expertise from overseas is required to maintain proper standards in some areas. When officials acting with the best intentions make a decision that yields negative results, they should know that an erosion of confidence usually follows, and public reaction could be harsh.

The Bermuda Government, and the Progressive Labour Party as the Opposition, know only too well that public reaction on sensitive issues must be taken seriously.

Our education system has been through quite a few twists and turns in recent years, and there is no doubt that it has not been easy for education authorities, who have to tackle a wide range of issues while trying to stay focused on what is best for our students in preparation for a new world of international competitiveness. In some parts of China, children take no summer holidays because they aspire to the highest academic standards.

It is encouraging that efforts have been stepped up by our education officials to connect better with parents on all matters involving students, which it is to be hoped will enhance a joint approach in dealing with complex situations such as negative behaviour and attitudes that hinder progress. So much has changed from decades ago, when there was a connection between parents and teachers. Without the advanced levels of communication that we enjoy today, a child who stepped out of line would often wonder how news of their misbehaviour reached home so quickly to a parent who was waiting to take a certain course of action. Some us know what that was.

Bermuda has moved through testing times in the quest to progress and, after having Bermudians serve in top positions such as Premier, Commissioner of Police, head of the Fire Service and with a distinguished Bermudian as Chief Justice, there seems to be no reason why a Bermudian with qualifications should not be given the nod for education commissioner.

With the utmost respect to those charged with making such decisions, and no one is right all the time, it is to be hoped that no stone is left unturned in first promoting Bermudians who meet the requirements for providing what is best for the island and the people.

That is what most Bermudians want and expect. At the moment, there seems to be confused signals.

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Published June 18, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 18, 2016 at 1:50 am)

Confused signals and public reaction

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