Education minister responds to April 22 editorial, “Time to declare ‘Recess is over’ in Cayman’s schools”
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to not only respond to the recent editorial, “Time to declare ‘Recess is over’ in Cayman’s schools,” but to also shed some light on the actions being taken by me, as minister with constitutional responsibility for education, and by ministry and Department of Education Services staff.
Whereas some, including the editor of your newspaper, may perceive my recent statement to the Legislative Assembly addressing the issue of behavior in the schools as not sounding sufficiently “outraged” about the incidents recently reported in the news, rest assured my “outrage” was channeled into taking proactive steps to address the issue of poor behavior and related challenges faced in the schools long before the latest “exposé” news articles were written.
What the editorial failed to acknowledge was that in November 2013 I had called for a detailed review of the management and governance structures of the Education Department and those of the schools to deal with the issue of poor behavior. My statement in the Legislative Assembly was not a reaction to the individual, yet serious incident, recently reported. It was an opportunity to let the country know what has been happening behind the scenes to sufficiently identify and address such behavior-related issues negatively impacting the schools, teachers’ and students’ safety, teaching and learning, and morale.
Unfortunately, no amount of “tough talk” alone will help to address the issue. My approach to leadership is and has been less dramatic yet quite simple — assess the situation and then take action to address the situation as presented. Tackling behavior issues is and has been a top priority of mine since taking office, and I have already expressed this clearly to my staff in adopting a “No Excuses, Just Solutions” approach.
The internal review of the behavior management system is now complete. Detailed action plans are being developed to create a system that sets clear expectations and accountability of students, parents, teachers, schools, DES and Ministry administration, to better utilize resources within the school system and to foster more effective collaboration between the schools and other government agencies concerned with the welfare and protection of our children and residents at large. Continuing with the status quo is simply not acceptable.
I’d be happy to sit down with you to have a more detailed discussion of the behavior management strategies developed to tackle the issues, some having already been adopted, most to be rolled out between now and the new school year in September 2014.