Time to declare 'Recess is over' 
in Cayman's schools

Nothing focuses the mind more than a good punch in the face — even more so if the assailant is a 15-year-old student at John Gray High School and the face belongs to his teacher.

And nothing numbs the mind more than yet another meandering and meaningless statement emanating from the lips of Education Minister Tara Rivers, who said in response to the assault:

“We all want schools that are safe, welcoming, supportive and inclusive learning environments … we must recognize our responsibilities to all our students, including those who have difficulties and ensure that they have access to the right support … I recognized the need to strengthen the governance of behavior management systems, both in schools and in the services that support schools.”

Here’s what Ms. Rivers should have said:

“A criminal assault has taken place on one of our teachers in one of our classrooms. I won’t tolerate it, the people of the Cayman Islands won’t tolerate it, and I’m going to put a stop to it. Check back with me in a week.”

A fundamental truth is that until Ms. Rivers and the Department of Education Services deal with the discipline issues in our classrooms, all further discussions — be they based on high-minded idealism, faddish curricula or the latest technologies — are fanciful and pointless.

The link between discipline and education cannot be overstated. Ms. Rivers needs to state categorically, and unapologetically, that she will not allow the behavior of the few to interfere with the education of the many.

A further fundamental truth is that an uneducated generation is an unemployable generation. As we have written before, the seeds of social unrest are sown in the classroom but flower in the street.

We recently had a conversation with Police Commissioner David Baines, who was aghast (but not surprised) at the behavior in our public schools. He says that his officers can identify today the students they will be arresting tomorrow. We believe him.

Last year, nearly 20 percent of Cayman’s public school teachers left, quit or resigned from their positions. Exit interviews revealed that in far too many cases, lack of discipline in the classrooms, coupled with lack of support from the administration, led to their decision. Many of these teachers, drawn to their profession for the most noble of reasons, finally threw up their hands and said: Enough is enough.

And yet, if we were to take a poll asking Caymanians to identify the most important issue facing their country, the answer, no doubt, would be education. Time and again, we would hear the bromide, “The children are our future.”

Don’t believe it. The Cayman community has turned its back on its own public school system while a succession of elected neophytes, paper-pushing pedants and “professional educators” have presided over its dysfunction and deterioration.

A short-term suspension for any student who strikes a teacher sends the message that a punch in the face equals a slap on the wrist. Ms. Rivers needs to send a much stronger message:

“Not in my classrooms and not on my watch. As of this moment, recess is over in the Cayman Islands.” 

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am glad to see that I am not the only person who thought that the statement from the Education Minister was meaningless.

    The problems with these children start in the home with irresponsible parenting; and it is only with the use of early intervention that we can even hope to have a meaningful impact on the situation. Also, we need to understand that not everyone that is capable of having a child is fit to be a parent and we need to do more to educate young people about making the right decisions.

  2. When the spine of the system comes from a jellyfish, did we expect anything else.

    And these Mensa candidates, such as the CEO, the Minister and other Henson look alikes, will continue to grope around in the dark to find solutions to problems that are obvious to a blind man.

    They speak fairy tale language and have absolutely no concept of what goes on in the real world.

    As I previously said, this somehow gets turned on the teacher who was assaulted. He/she will be transferred to another school or they will magically disappear from the school system. Its the pattern and I speak from first hand experience and not rumor.

    And then to add insult to injury, the Ministry will come out with a statement that every child deserves an education. They are right. But that will be followed by so much bovine excretion, that Mount Trashmore couldn’t house it.

    The Ministry will then say that the world is following their model. That makes me laugh so much its equally funny as the previous statement.

    Where I come from, assault is assault regardless of where it happens. We rehabilitate criminals in prison and release them into society when they are ready do become contributors and not inhibitors to society.

    Time for another Royal Commission to investigate and recommend.

    And finally, I come from a place where the world does watch and model our educational system. The Ministry might want to have a look. Sorry, they are blind and just wouldn’t be able to see it.

  3. Mark Boland’s statement is spot on. I could only add that the school administration is doing the kids a huge injustice by taken this type of behavior lightly. How does this prepare them for the real world? Today my boss looked at me wrong so I hit him in the mouth. Yea, see where that gets you. In the States, you could get away with it more by relocating but, I would think that on an Island one’s actions would tend to follow them around more.

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