Shadow Minister Cole Simons On Education

June 4, 2018

If the Government “directed the same amount of urgency and resources that they expended” on the development of the digital asset industry, there “would be wifi in our schools by now” and “our teachers would be better equipped,” Shadow Education Minister Cole Simons said.

Mr. Simons said, “It is with interest that I read your article in regards to the Minister of Education’s unwillingness to meet with Bermuda’s teachers and other stakeholders within Bermuda’s educational system.

“The Minister cannot continue to dismiss and disregard their concerns. He must embrace his leadership role, and meet with the Bermuda Union of Teachers [BUT] who represent our educators, as they will be the main instrument to ensure the success of the Bermuda Educational Strategic Plan 2022.

“It is very surprising that the BUT has repeated the ongoing problem of teachers digging into their pockets to purchase supplies and equipment. I say this because in May of last year the Shadow Minister at the time said ‘that our educators will be provided with the necessary resources needed to ensure the quality delivery of learning.’ Is this an example of another hollow promise?

“I am also very surprised that the BUT has indicated that most of our public schools still do not have wireless internet. The September 2017 Speech from the Throne stated that ‘The Government will complete the installation of WiFi in all primary and middle schools by the end of the school year.’ Which school year was being referred to, now that the end of the 2017/18 school year is upon us?

“It is time for the Minister to come clean, and be transparent in his dealings.

“When it comes to the strategic plan, the Minister must start the second round of talks with the stakeholders, so that they all can agree on a detailed blueprint and road map on the implementation and delivery of our Educational strategic plan.

“It is totally unacceptable that this aspirational plan and its priorities have been approved at the top level, but the stakeholders have yet to agree on the blueprint for the delivery of each of the five priorities, which are to: i] Increase Academic Rigor and Student Engagement, ii] Ensure Career, College and Workforce Readiness, iii] Enhance the quality of teacher practice and system leadership, iv] Improve Infrastructure and Instructional Resources and v] Ensure the System’s success.

“If we are to ensure the success of this community driven and community owned strategic programme, the Minister and his executive team must have follow up meetings with Bermuda’s educational stakeholders: Teachers, Parents, the Board of Education, the Ambassador Design Team, and the Strategic Review team, so that they can craft the road map and timelines for the delivery of each of the five strategic priorities showcased in the strategic plan. This is crucial, as these stakeholders will be the main drivers of the new strategic plans, and they will be held accountable for its delivery.

“Regarding accountability, robust leadership is a must and this is where the Commissioner of Education comes in. His or her primary role will be to champion and usher in the delivery of the initiatives showcased in the new strategic plan. Where do things stand with the appointment of the new Commissioner of Education? It’s been 8 months since Dr. Freddie Evans was removed; we are still without a permanent replacement and no indication of a timeline of when the post is going to be filled. When will we receive a status report on this appointment?

“The Minister continues to be silent on this matter. Obviously, the sooner we can get this person on board, the sooner he or she will be positively positioned to champion and deliver the 2022 strategic plan.

“If this Minister, and by extension his Government, directed the same amount of urgency and resources that they expended for the advancement of the development of the new digital asset industry, then there would be WiFi in our schools by now, our teachers would be better equipped to deliver the services that they are passionate about, and they would have a regular ongoing professional development programme, along with a regular performance appraisal schedule.

“The Minister has said time and again that this is a priority for he and his Government, but his refusal to meet with stakeholders proves exactly the opposite. It’s time to talk about taking politics out of the Education system for the sake of our children.”

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Comments (24)

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  1. Lol says:

    Can say the same about the ACBDA, pathways to status, the airport, etc. Etc. Etc. Get off of it please and worry about saving your party from extinction I stead of creating hype. Cause taking money from the schools to fund a boat race is ideally have your priorities in order as well…just saying.

  2. What else, Cole??

  3. aceboy says:

    This is silly Cole. The same arguments can easily be leveled at the AC…Cross Island in particular.

    • Onion Juice says:

      I second.

    • Anbu says:

      What about cross island?

    • Question says:

      Are you talking about the investment that came in under budget and returned $355m?

      • As the World Turns says:

        …But still has debt attached to it……Yeah that one…

        • nerema says:

          The investment that added $355m to the economy? That one?

  4. Wahoo says:

    Right right.

  5. These politicians are funny says:

    Wifi is just a tool. Stop acting like it is the be all savior for poor results. Once it goes in and things stay the same, then what? Its one of those flashy items, while it is nice to have lets not act like the schools don’t have internet at all. You can put all the technology into schools that you want BUT if it is not being used or used correctly such as previous technology already implemented in the school system it becomes an expensive “I told you so” exercise.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      I second.

    • wahoo says:

      I am sure the unions all have wifi and they don’t seem to be any better off….just sayin’.

    • PBanks says:

      Problem is that the new government pledged wifi, yet here we are. Meanwhile teachers and PTAs are continuing to have to fundraise for basics. Govts past and present are continuing to pay lip service instead of taking concrete steps to improving the state of public education.

  6. dick francis says:

    I have to laugh at some of the comments – the OBA is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t!

  7. Really says:

    PLP equals brain washed education to keep you the fools. Go figure.

  8. As the World Turns says:

    Cole YOU need to STOP……ALL of these complaints existed while you were Minister of Education as well…..So please stop acting as if its brand new!!!!…..YOU also REFUSED to meet with teachers when requested…..remember when they marched and you watched from the doorway of your REAL job as they went across??…..As Shadow Minister of Education IF your heart was really for the children and not pointing one finger when four are pointing back at you because you are just as guilty.

  9. Realist says:

    To the defenders, let’s agree the problems are the same as of last year and the previous years. The real issue is the PLP marched, screamed, threatened and made holy promises to do better and quickly. Stop excusing their behaviour because it’s a party for the masses. Hold them more accountable after all they assured all of you who voted for them they will fix all your woes pronto!

    • Onion Juice says:

      I’m just relieved I dont have to look at and listen to those other dreamers for 5 years.

    • Payattention says:

      I am a PLP supporter, however, our education system has admittedly been neglected for years and PLP vowed to right the wrong. The shadow minister has little room to criticize based on his own failure to implement effective change; but facts are facts. No criticism here, but let’s not loose our way PLP!

  10. Bolt Action Rifle says:

    Poor/failing teachers/principals/guidance counselors (who’d be fired in private sector), are often just promoted or moved. Until Public Education is brought under the control of an Independent Authority like the BTA, nothing will change for the better. There’s no accountability or strong professional leadership under the top heavy, inconsistent, politicized/friends & family plan “DOE/MOE”. Let’s see if PLP have the “Balls”, cuz we know the OBA didn’t.