Greetings Fellow Bermudians:
“The stone which, the builders rejected has become the head stone of the corner.” Psalm 118:25
These were the words that floated around my ears sometime after April 1st, 1978. I was walking on Elm Street in Oxford, Ohio. I was on my way to work in the Reading Clinic at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I was feeling rather despondent, discouraged and dejected. Someone from Bermuda called me and reported that a Reading Teacher had been appointed as the new person responsible for curiculum development in the Bermuda Education System, effective April 1st, 1978.
How could this be? In four months time, I would graduate from Miami University as Bermuda’s first internationally qualified Curriculum coordinator. This, to me, was so different from the way that Dr Kenneth Robinson operated. I had seen times when he knew a qualified Bermudian was returning home and he would keep the position open so that the best-qualified person could be chosen.
Let me state at the outset, I have no axe to grind because I never got a job in the Bermuda Education System. In fact, I can now say that it worked to my advantage because I have had the freedom to speak truth to power. Over the past year, I have heard these words of the Psalmist continually. My task, my responsibility and my calling became clearer to me last year. I had a compelling desire to pray and ask God, “What do I want on my tombstone when I leave this life?”
In a flash, a big, black T-shirt appeared before me. In big, bold white letters was written the word, “SOULWINNER”. The shirt flipped and on the front of the shirt, was the verse from Proverbs 11:30 which states: “…and he that winneth souls is wise”. It was at this time that God challenged me with the task to ensure that all of Bermuda’s children, and black children in particular, receive a fair, just and equal world-class education.
Recently, the Ministry of Education announced that Dr Freddie Evans and Dr Newell would be involved in ‘A New Strategic Plan for Education’. Bermuda does not need two born and bred Americans to come up with ‘A New Strategic Plan’ for Bermuda’s Education System. The Education Planning Team (EPT), comprised mainly of born and bred Bermudians came up with a solution to Bermuda’s educational woes 30 years ago.
On Friday, May 12th, I sent the following questions for radio talkshow host Sherri Simmons to ask Dr Evans:
- What was the summary of the key recommendations of the EPT and Dr Joseph Christopher’s suggestions?
- How far would we be if the recommendations were carried out?
- What do you think the impact of not implementing them has been?
- Why do you think they were not implemented?
- As a result, do you feel the work of the EPT was a waste of time?
Reports reaching me indicated that in light of Dr Evans’ responses he failed the test. A dear friend of mine said: “Should they ever answer your questions honestly, it will reveal that most of them have had no interest in educating children.” Follow the money trail, it is clear that careers were made on the backs of children. They don’t really look into their history, let alone any documents as they will tell the real story.
“Racism is an evil weed sown in the garden of humanity. It has grown wildly, entangling the healthy plants and covering the pathways, creating a great maze, a labyrinth with twists and turns that have led humanity astray. Racism has entwined and entrapped us all.” Joseph Barndt
The foundation of Bermuda’s education system is steeped in racism. In fact, every facet of the lives of black Bermudians is impacted by the horrible, diabolical weed of racism. Bermuda is a white supremacist society with its accompanying attitudes and behavior of “white privilege”. Bermuda’s educational woes is a systemic problem and as such needs a systemic solution.
In 1952, in an unpublished dissertation entitled ‘History of Education in Bermuda’, the late Dr Kenneth Robinson, a Harvard graduate and Bermuda’s first Black Chief Education Officer stated: “From the outset the system has been diversified both with respect to purpose and structure.” In addition, Dr Robinson found it necessary to list major special education objectives with which “coloured” Bermudians should be concerned.
Dr Yvonne Blacket, in an unpublished report dated May 1976, indicated that official documents in 1948 revealed implicit and explicit indicators of the following:
- Philosophy of Education 1948: schools should be for the maintenance of the social, economic and political status quo
- Educational Principles 1948: that of social, economic and political dominance of white people
- Educational Objectives 1948: to cultivate white children for hereditary leadership
- Government theoretically supported private schools
Has the philosophy and objectives contributed significantly to our present state of a failing public school system as the result of a white supremacist society and its resultant attitudes of white privilege behavior?
Have these racist goals ever been renounced and denounced and replaced with fair, just and equitable goals designed to meet the needs of the majority population?
Why Haven’t the Recommendations of the Reports Been Implemented?
Over the past, almost 30 years, several reports have been carried out on the Bermuda Education System. I will mention three of the reports:
- Education Planning Team – 1988
- The Hopkins Report – 2007
- ‘A Random Walk Through The Forest’ – 2009 by Dr Joseph Christopher
In the three above-named reports, the suggestion of school boards for public schools was made continuously. Why wasn’t this recommendation implemented at some time over the 30 years? Was it because Government theoretically supported private schools and neglected public schools?
The EPT was appointed in December 1987 and reported back to the Minister in 1988. It consisted of some 27 people representing parents, teachers, principals, members of aided school Boards fo Governors, members of the business community, active members of political parties, private citizens, and Department of Education staff. This team recommended 12 strategies that were presented to subcommittees to expand upon and develop specific action plans for implementation.
Eventually some 185 community members were actively involved in preparing the final report and recommendations – an unprecedented level of interest that reflected the importance of public education to Bermuda’s wellbeing. In his book ‘A Random Walk Through The Forest’, Dr Christopher stated:
“A major failure on the part of the political control of the public school system during all of this evolution was the failure to give Black parents/families the opportunity to have a say in the management of the schools that were educating their children. All of the white schools were enabled to have boards of management when free education was introduced in 1949. The Black schools were managed from the central office of the Education Department. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s consultants or commissions appointed to look at ensuring equity in the community each recommended management boards for all schools. Regardless of these repeated recommendation, Government failed to implement such recommendations. In addition, the media focused on other aspects of committee recommendations and gave little attention to this aspect.”
Shoudn’t we, the people of Bermuda, on behalf of the children of Bermuda, our most precious resources, be up in arms and demand that Government rectify this situation immediately. Thirty years of neglect of black children’s education is too long?
Should we be filing a case of deliberate discrimination against black parents and black children before the Human Rights Commission?
I believe a God of Freedom, a God of Justice and a God of Equality wants all children to learn and He does not want black children, His precious jewels, to have to fight against discrimination in order to get a fair, just and equitable education.
LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD NOW!
Born to Win,
Born to Teach,
Muriel M Wade-Smith, PhD