Time to apply common sense to education policy

I write in response to the article, “Officials: Holding failing students back is ineffective,” that appeared in the Aug. 30 issue of the Cayman Compass.

When will educational experts begin to realize and understand that their suicidal decisions actually impact real people, with real lives and real futures? Relying on unquoted and unspecified research to support their expert opinion simply isn’t good enough. Children are and should be too important for such trite responses to matters of such great importance, not to mention the response models’ poor standards and low expectations. If a student were to respond in an exam paper “research suggests” without specifying the source, the result is a lesser grade. Failure is the result of weak foundations – in this instance, the concept and practice of “social promotion.” It is fundamentally flawed, as it neither reflects nor mirrors the marketplace for which the education system is preparing young people. As long as those in authority continue to promote the ideology that promotion is based neither on merit nor achievement they will continue to fail the most vulnerable of young people in the Cayman Islands.

Senior policy adviser Mr. Clive Baker was quoted as saying, “we base all our work on international research.” The Clifton Hunter school fiasco, with its open plan classrooms, should remind the people of the Cayman Islands that experts are not always as wise as they pretend to be. Holding a child back, as long as it is intentionally purposeful, will in the long run always better serve the child. And that’s the point, the long run. Any social embarrassment is temporary – a temporary setback to ensure a proper foundation. Doing otherwise is suicidal, in other words the continuance of decisions which have a permanent and detrimental impact.

“There are a lot of things in education that from a common sense point of view seem to make sense,” Chief Officer in the Ministry of Education Christen Suckoo is quoted as saying. Parents, carers and young people of the Cayman Islands, it’s time to apply our common sense and be brave. Some of the most vulnerable people of the Cayman Islands are counting on you.

Abraham Joseph