Union Responds To Education Ministry

April 22, 2021

The Union “will not be dragged through the mud so that Ministry inefficiency can go unnoticed again,” the Bermuda Union of Teachers said, explaining that the idea to have Friday serve as a make-up day “was not communicated to this Union until Monday” and they “were asked to respond to this last minute request by Wednesday.”

This statement from the Union follows after the Ministry of Education said, “It was hoped that this Friday could be used to make up previously lost days. The Bermuda Union of Teachers respectfully declined our request. As a result, Friday’s school holiday will go ahead as scheduled.

“The Department has received concerns from parents about the schools being closed on Friday following an extended Easter break. These concerns are not lost on us and the Department will continue to work with the Bermuda Union of Teachers to see how any of the lost learning days can be regained before the end of the school term,” the Ministry said.

“It Is Basic And Classic Deflection”

A spokesperson said, “The recent statement from the Ministry of Education, which addresses a fixed half term holiday on the Bermuda Public School System [BPSS] Education calendar is at best unfortunate and at worst invidious.

“It is basic and classic deflection, designed to take pressure off the Ministry and put it on this Union. This Union, however, will not be dragged through the mud so that Ministry inefficiency can go unnoticed again.

“Friday, April 23, 2021 Is A Fixed Mid-term Break Day”

“Friday, April 23, 2021 is a fixed mid-term break day which is outlined in the General Orders for Teachers [1974]; it is not, and never was, connected to the annual Agricultural Exhibition, which has been cancelled.

“The idea to have this day serve as a “make-up day” for the four days that were added to the recent Easter Break was not communicated to this Union until Monday of this week in the form of a written request from the Commissioner of Education [COE].

“We Were Asked To Respond To This Last Minute Request”

“We were asked to respond to this last minute request by Wednesday, April 21. Having already assured our school reps, and thereby our entire membership, that this Friday is our General Orders mandated fixed mid-term break and will be considered a “no work” day, we could not then rescind that communication with just days left before the date in question, so we declined the COE’s request.

“Considering the current state of the nation in regards to the pandemic, we do understand that certain things have to be implemented at short notice and that decisions must be made instantaneously; this is not one of those times.

“There Was Ample Time For This Proposal To Be Made”

“There was ample time for this proposal to be made to this Union once the decision to add days to the Easter Break was made; the Ministry waited until the week of to ambush us with a request they knew we’d need approval from our entire membership to accept. This is not ethical practice.

To Be “Thrown Under A Bus” Is “Insulting, Disheartening, And Petty”

“To now be thrown under a bus so that the Ministry can deflect pressure is insulting, disheartening, and petty. This Union has no interest in a public tit-for-tat with the Ministry, but we have even less interest in entertaining this manner of odious demonizing tactic toward our hard working, dedicated, and professional teachers.

“Not The Time For Pointing Fingers And Being Downright Trifling”

“Teachers are always working, and the workload has increased during this period of remote learning as we must now navigate the stresses of home life, lesson delivery, activity planning, and Zoom coordinating, all while dealing with the highly prevalent public health concerns that have us all considerably more stressed than usual. In short, this is not the time for pointing fingers and being downright trifling.

“Hopefully, this public faux pas by the Ministry of Education can pass quietly in time, but at this moment, teachers are not at all pleased with being thrown under the bus by a group that consistently fails to plan adequately and then wants everyone else to pick up the bill when it comes.

“A Truly Unfortunate Development Indeed”

“We have faithfully stood by the Ministry during this Covid-19 crisis, and we have agreed to compromises that were not exactly popular along the way, but we understand the circumstances, so sacrifices were made. This, therefore, feels like a sudden slap in the face during a period of relative harmony; a truly unfortunate development indeed.

“The BUT will continue to be open to mature, progressive discussion and collaboration with the Ministry of Education as we believe that our country deserves better from all of us. We will also continue to demand that matters be presented to us in a timely manner going forward, as badly timed initiatives can often lead to the issue we are addressing today.

 ”Will Not Break Our Stride Toward Excellence”

“We encourage all our teachers and other school staff to keep showing up, marching on, and moving mountains with your heads held high; this moment of gratuitous Ministry immaturity will not break our stride toward excellence.! In Solidarity.”

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Comments (7)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “It is basic and classic deflection, designed to take pressure off the Ministry and put it on this Union. This Union, however, will not be dragged through the mud so that Ministry inefficiency can go unnoticed again.”

    I see a bump in the relationship between the PLP Government and the BUT

  2. question says:

    The union just wants the day off for the Ag Show.

    • Read the article carefully says:

      Go back and read the article, it is not an ag show day off and never was. Also remember that the ministry and therefore the government of Bermuda does not fully cover supplies in our schools, meaning teachers not only provide unpaid extra time to their students,but give their own hard earned funds back to their students in the form of supplies. How would you feel if your boss paid you, then said you had to use up to 15% of your pay to provide supplies necessary to do your job, AND told you to work evenings and weekends without extra pay?

      • Question says:

        All irrelevant. The union thinks the Ag Show is a day off.

  3. Nathalee Simons says:

    Ohhhh… WOOOOOOOOOOOW.. as my people would say ‘Look yah nuh!’This is far from being a good relationship between the Ministry and The BUT at such a critical period in the Education Reform process..

    This to me is a simple decision which in my opinion, There Was Ample Time For This Proposal To Be Made” but being we are all human could have been a formal communication followed up with a zoom call of all the Decision-makers..

    Lawd have Mercy!!! Please do better for the sake of our children, I continue to pray because it is a Grave Situation when our Highly Academic Leaders can’t resolve a ‘simple’ matter without having the Press being all over it.

    School Yard Business that.. Y’all, what an example for our children.

    As The Great Peter Tosh says “You can’t Blame the youth”

    Let us DO BETTER.

  4. Thank you to each and every Teacher!!! says:

    Every other country in the world is singing the praises of teachers during the pandemic and yet our Ministry of Education tries to throw our teachers under the bus! Think about it, while teachers are at home managing their own families, they are teaching online. If you think that is easy, think again. They have to prepare their lessons again to an online format, deal with their own WiFi issues, and try to engage their students. Would you like to teach a 5 year old over zoom? Would you like to keep the attention of rambunctious children stressed out from being at home and out of their normal routine? Try to keep the attention of a 15 or 16 year old who has just been told no external exams! They think it’s party time certainly not time to pay attention and learn algebra or calculus!!!! Try to teach those 16 year olds while the people in their household get into an argument, where maybe there is no money for food because mom and or dad doesn’t have a job anymore! Try to get them to pay attention while they stay in their bed and have access to their phones! One day you are in the classroom the next day you are online teaching. Lessons are ready for in-class delivery and suddenly have to be prepared again for online delivery. Tests that were on paper now have to be set up online and it takes hours. No one in the Ministry is doing this, it’s all on the classroom teacher.

    Teachers have worked harder than ever!

    Surprise, surprise… a last minute request came in! If you watched that press conference with two Ministers the other night, you wouldn’t be surprised, just standard incompetence. They didn’t even appear to have read the rules and they were sent to explain them!!!

    Everything is so last minute from this government as of late, nothing is thought out in advance and half their rules and requests contradicted each other. The Premier he is trying and I thank him for his hard work but he is surrounded by incompetence.

    Let us not beat up in the teachers too quickly, they have been truly working from home!!!!

  5. Bibbla says:

    How can we take a group who calls themselves BUT seriously. A highly educated group of teachers who somehow managed to abbreviate “The Bermuda Union Of Teachers” to BUT.
    These are the leaders in control of educating our children, a bunch of BUTs’.