Editorial for 08 February: Sometimes the truth just hurts

Our headline story of Thursday – “Test scores ‘not good enough’” – apparently caused quite a stir amongst certain government officials who didn’t like what it had to say very much.

For those who might have missed the story, it was based on an open records request, filed by a local public interest group, which revealed that an alarming number of children in the public school system are under-performing in math and English subjects.

The story also quoted Education Department chief Shirley Wahler and chief officer from the Ministry of Education, Mary Rodrigues, explaining the results of the test scores and acknowledging the Cayman Islands was facing a long-standing problem with numeracy and literacy.

In this story, Ms Wahler is quoted as stating her view that it was “unfair” to compare local students with those in the United Kingdom, who have had a national school curriculum in place for decades.

According to Mrs. Rodrigues: “While we are making progress, there is still much further work to be done to ensure many more of our children achieve success in these critical areas.” [*]

Our headline, and our story, set out the situation quite accurately indeed.

Unfortunately, the country’s Education Minister, Rolston Anglin, used his podium on national television Thursday after having read the article to chastise the newspaper.

We don’t have the time to go into everything wrong that the minister said on Thursday and it really doesn’t matter what he said anyway. Suffice to say, mealy-mouth accusations of ‘negativism’ in the media and alleging that newspaper writers are ‘out to get us’ are frankly relics of a bygone era and we’d hoped the minister would have learned better by now.

There is a problem in the basic educational achievements among students in this country. Until that is really addressed, and not just through announcing the latest “strategic plan” by the way, the minister surely has more important things to do than make accusations about how test scores – that everyone agrees are substandard – have been misinterpreted.

 

[*] Editor’s note: Change made in story to reflect the correct quote attributed to Mary Rodrigues.

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. This is an example of the type of representative Rolston Anglin is. When Rolston’s failure to deliver results in Education are exposed he uses his podium on national television – not to take responsibility – but to chastise the newspaper for reporting the facts.

    That is the leadership style of Rolston Anglin.

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  2. My suggestion – INTEGRATE.

    The many hundreds of kids of the expats working here on island are the very product of the system which, quote, has had a national school curriculum in place for decades.

    The faulty thinking of keeping them out of the general school system and restricting them to the private schools is based on what ideal? Would Caymanian children wilt and wither under the unfair competition or, more likely, would the interaction benefit both and raise the standard for all.

    A world class school does not start with bricks and mortar, but by actively seeking the best teachers. Sadly, ill considered policies like the roll-over are counter productive in a profession which inherently takes a long term view…

    Anyone got a break-down of nationalities of teachers?

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  3. Sonic

    I agree with almost everything you said but I didn’t/couldn’t vote because of your last statement.

    What has the nationality of a teacher to do with regards to educating our children?

    You mentioned seeking the best teachers for the job and that, I will agree with.

    A person who is a certified as a teacher is not the best choice.
    A person who is willing and wants to live here is not the best choice.

    A person who can motivate our children to learn is the Best Choice, nationality notwithstanding!

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  4. Banana Republic

    You’re absolutely spot on – I should have clarified my last comment. I was simply curious to compare the teaching profession to other sectors – are there policy issues which need to be addressed that might be highlighted by those figures.

    I consider myself priviledged having had a Physics teacher at school who was truly world class. When I sat the exam I was concerned that they’d given me the wrong paper, it was ridiculously too easy. The entire class passed with such good grades (All A’s and B’s and a single C) – the examining board thought there had been cheating going on…
    Turns out ‘The Doc’ had actually blasted through the entire syllabus/curriculum in a little over 6 months and spent the rest of the year teaching the A-Level (advanced) course (Many of us sat our phsics A-Levels a year early as a result) – World class educators leave a lasting impression. Sadly, we lost ‘The Doc’ a couple of years ago but his legacy lives on in the character of all who were lucky enough to learn from him.

    Let the politicians travel economy (or perhaps just wrap em in duct tape and send by Fedex) and put the money saved into more/better Teachers and smaller class sizes. Can just one teacher make a difference? Well, ‘The Doc’ certainly did.

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  5. It is an open secret that an alarming number of Caymanian children are leaving school functionally illiterate, although the studies which have established this have been suppressed by successive governments.

    The only question which should matter when recruiting teachers, is can they teach effectively. Not where are they from. Not who are their friends or family. And not what is their religion.

    The first step in dealing with any problem is acknowledging that it exists. Rolston, over to you

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