Simons: Teachers Need Right Tools, Environment

December 1, 2018

“It is a very sad day when the School Principals and teachers take or threaten industrial action within weeks of each other,” Shadow Minister of Education Cole Simons said, adding that “the BUT is absolutely correct, teachers should have the right tools and the right environment to educate our young people.”

Educators have been expressing their dissatisfaction, with all the teachers at West Pembroke School calling in sick on Friday after agreeing to go on work-to-rule earlier this month, while School Principals are also engaging in work-to-rule.

In addition, earlier this month the Bermuda Union of Teachers [BUT] confirmed that teachers have “voted to take ‘appropriate action’ over a series of issues they say are negatively impacting schools and students.”

Mr Simons said, “I am not surprised at the current state of affairs, as this photo-op Minister of Education’s and his Government’s main priority is to eliminate the Middle Schools and provide free funding to those students accepted to attend the Bermuda College.

“Admittedly as some of these initiatives are positive, the Minister has failed miserably to do the heavy lifting by paying attention to, and addressing, the fundamental challenges of our educational system.

“He has not listened to the Principals and teachers since he has been in office. He surely knew what the issues were when he was in the Opposition, but now that he is Minister, he has discounted them, and hence the sad state of affairs that we have today.

“This is indicative of a Government who has not listened to any of the major education stakeholders education. All they want to do is ram through their narrow political educational agenda, and not address the substantive issues.

“It is time for the Minister to commit his time, energy, and resources to priorities three and four of the 2022 Educational plan: Priority #3 Enhancing the Quality of Teacher Practice and System Leadership, and Priority #4 Improving Infrastructure and Instructional Resources. These priorities are simply not being addressed by this Government.

“The Minister must open the lines of communication between the Department of Education and the Principals and teachers so that, as a team, they can get the best outcomes for our students and the delivery of educational services in Bermuda.

“The existing one-way system of communications is not working and is unacceptable. It is a very sad day when the School Principals and teachers take or threaten industrial action within weeks of each other.

“They are both tired and have had enough. They are tired of very long hours and of being ignored. They are tired of the faulty roll-out and implementation of new systems, such as the performance-based grading.

“The BUT is absolutely correct – teachers should have the right tools and the right environment to educate our young people. By not doing so, our students suffer.

“The BUT is correct when they say there are “problems with the physical plant at schools such as windows not working properly — for years in some schools – and fire alarms also not working in some schools. There are old computers, which often do not have functioning software or lack appropriate software, a lack of access for all staff to Wi-Fi and a lack of working overhead projectors, Smart Boards and printers”.

“It is totally unacceptable, from a human resources perspective that the ASD [Autism] programme teachers “have no breaks, including lunch, no preparation time and lack of adequate staffing”. It is also unacceptable that Para educators are working without a job description and many do not have breaks from their assigned students and are not given their full entitlements under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“These issues are all substantive fundamental issues which should have been addressed by the Ministry and his team when they were brought to his attention months ago. Is he asleep on the job, or does he not care about what our Principals and teachers have to say, as they have raised these issues with the Ministry time and time again?”

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Comments (9)

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  1. Rocky5 says:

    Minister Rabain is just a pure poser. He has no clue what’s really going on because he just doesn’t care. Premier Burt, please get rid of him and bring in someone who cares and is really interested in making real positive improvements to public education. I.e. someone willing to follow a path similar to the creation & implementation of the BTA for Education.

  2. Bd says:

    This is BS! In my day teachers had zero tools except a piece of chalk and blackboard and they did very well! Just get in with the teaching!

  3. 2 Bermudas says:

    Education was 90% of the Pee El Pee’s election platform and they are failing spectacularly. Will the voters care? I doubt it. I could only imagine the rhetoric had this been the OBA.

  4. novaperspective says:

    Politicians ought to be ashamed of themselves for playing political football with our educational system. Every politician, both present and past (UBP, UBP/OBA and PLP) must take full responsibility for Bermudians not being up to par.

    As a borne Bermudian, in 1968 I was eligible to vote in Bermuda’s first general election based on political party representation and their party platform for the first time in Bermuda’s history. The UBP won 30 of the 40 seats, while the PLP increased their seats from 6 to 10.

    As a young person and voting for the first time, the one key issue for me then, and still today, is maximize our human resources potential so we can export intellectual capital, rather than importing it. Back then I did not vote in the election because I was not comfortable in either party’s positions. Neither party convinced me that they were committed to all Bermudians moving forward together as one people. However, I was prepared to give the edge to the UBP because they appeared to represent a broader cross-section of Bermuda’s population and would recognize the emphasis needed in order to prepare Bermudians to complete in a global economy, had I voted.

    50 years later, we hear the same rhetoric from both parties, and yet the same results. Bermudians marginalized and lacking the experience to fill positions, or unqualified. The lack of real commitment on the part of our politicians is creating enormous harm to Bermudians. To say our teachers lack the tools is not good enough… reach across the aisle and work to strategically position Bermudians to fill key positions in key industries of our economy. Start now so in the next 50 years we can proudly say we are competing on an equal footing.

  5. Old school says:

    OMG!! No overhead projectors or smart boards? How can we possibly teach without these things? Oh I know – use a blackboard and chalk you pretentious excuses for teachers!

    Sorry but I cannot support such stupid requirements when perfectly acceptable solutions exist!

    • Stay old says:

      Another one stuck in the past. When it’s the majority of the teaching population that feels like this that speak volumes. Unless you have another 900 hundred teachers somewhere take your old school simplistic, unrealistic thinking and go build your own school. Let us know how that works out for you.

      • Past says:

        Some of us might be in the past but we know stupid when we see it! Reports are that the internet was being used for Netflix movies and YouTube videos so this stopped the real work of entering scores online and such! Sounds like they are playing games instead of teaching!

    • newperspective says:

      Yes! A poor workman always blames his tools, or lack thereof.

  6. watching says:

    Simons has no clue.

    And if he did some progress would have happened under the OBA.