• The following letter was submitted to the Chairman of the Board of Education, Curtis Dickinson, by Dr Muriel Wade-Smith and forwarded to Bermuda Real for publication. As a contributing opinion columnist, she asked: Do you know how many of our Black children we have lost since 1988 because of the lack of accountability of the Education Ministry, and the lack of leadership amongst Education Officers, to follow the recommendations referred to in this letter…

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Greetings Mr Dickinson:

“Parental ownership of schools and parental involvement in schools is essential. Do not leave public education solely to the politicians” – ‘A Random Walk Through The Forest’ by Dr Joseph Christopher.

I would be remiss in my responsibilities as a committed educator, a parent who removed her two sons out of the Bermuda Education system over 30 years ago because the system was failing our children then, a granparent, a great grandparent, a stakeholder and a taxpayer, if I did not bring this matter to your attention.

Why are we proceeding with ‘A New Vision And Strategic Plan for Public School Education,’ when it is alleged that the recommendations contained in the ‘Review of Public Education in Bermuda 2007’ have not been carried out?

Who was held accountable for ensuring that these recommendations were carried out? Who were the people at the helm of education at this time? What hindered them from carrying out such necessary, vital and important recommendations? How much farther down the road we would be if the recommendations were carried out almost 30 years ago and almost 10 years ago?

Wasn’t there a lack of accountability missing among the hierarchy of the Ministry of Education? Who was the government of the day? In 1988, wasn’t the United Bermuda Party the government in power? In 2007, wasn’t the Progressive Labour Party in power? Both parties had opportunities to follow through with the recommendations of the reports. Are the political parties more interested in gaining power than they are in providing quality education for all of our children?

Dr Joseph Christopher, a former Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, in his book entitled ‘A Random Walk Through The Forest’ (2009) states: “During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, consultants or commissions appointed to look at ensuring equity within the community each recommended management boards for all schools. Regardless of these repeated recommendations, Government failed to implement such recommendations. In addition, the media focused on other aspects of committee recommendations and gave little attention to this aspect.”

In 2014, Dr Lou Matthews addressed a PTA and talked about an audit of five middle schools. The comments, in my opinion, were horrendous and reeked with failure. He indicated what the way forward should be. Has Dr Matthews been held accountable for providing specific, measureable, achievable, reliable and time-bound goals to rectify the situation in the middle schools and bring about success for our children?

By the way, Dr Matthews and Ms Rhonda Woods-Smith, two Bermudians were members of the team that compiled the Hopkins Report. Was there any commitment to ensure that the recommendations were carried out? What hindered them? Who helped with the Hopkins Report?

It has been said that many reports undertaken by government just sit on the shelf and nothing gets done about them. How can we the people of Bermuda have faith in ‘A New Vision And Strategic Plan For Public School Education?’ Is it an exercise in futility? Is it a waste of tax payers’ money? Why do we need an American down here? Aren’t there enough competent, capable and committed Bermudians who have the interest of Bermuda’s children at heart to work to provide quality education of a world class standard for Bermuda’s children.

What has hindered our people from providing quality education for our children. Perhaps, if we get to the root of the problem, then, we will know how to solve the problem.

Thanks for your attention and I eagerly await your response.

Born to Teach,
Muriel M Wade-Smith, PhD