Call For Response from Desmond Bannister

Friday 15th, October 2010 / 10:13 Published by

The following is an open letter to Bahamas Minister of Education, Desmond Bannister.

Dear Sir,

You may recall that, as the First Responder to your address to the Bahamian Forum in early September, I applauded your work and courage in dealing with the Department of Education’s glaring slackness and inefficiencies.

Then I discussed three long-term objectives… one was a Government-owned charter school operated by a private contractor that followed very specific principles. You said that the Department examined and discarded this option; but we could meet to examine the Department’s supporting data.

Now… there is plenty of U.S. data that is used by teachers unions, public school managers and their political allies against reform… reform that includes academic testing, school choice, educational vouchers and charter schools. One book published in 2000 concluded that “investments in charter schools haven’t led to widespread innovation in educational programmes nor to better student achievement”; they “represent irresponsible and wasteful uses of public funds” and are “even harmful to students.” The book never related 50-years of spending nor pervasive and powerful “industrial-styled” trade unions to academic achievement.

The Coalition for Education Reform made a well documented “publicly owned-privately operated” charter proposal to the Minister of Education in July 2005 and repeated it in September, 2007.

Subsequently I released the “Learning Crisis: A Bahamian Public Policy Essay” in 2009 and four very amateur videos that covered the three “fundamentals’.

At the September Bahamian Forum you made the first public rejection to the proposal.

But… you should now reconsider your decision in light of the biggest public event in the struggle for education reform. That is “Waiting for Superman”, a documentary just released by Paramount Pictures to national and international rave reviews.

“Waiting for Superman” conveys the message of education reform in the most compelling format presently available. The Ministry, the Department of Education and the Prime Minister owe the country an informative response.

Ralph J Massey
Nassau, The Bahamas
October, 2010


2 Comments on “Call For Response from Desmond Bannister

  • I have just returned from workshops in Georgia and many presentations by University professors helped us understand why are children are not mastering basic skills and why they are not internalizing information. Why? If you put yourself into their shoes and look at how “their world” operates, i.e. for even the last 10 years……….they now LEARN differently! Technology has rewired their brains………..they want interactive learning………they learn in shorter spurts……we CANNOT CONTINUE TO EXPECT THEM to sit in a classroom with large numbers of students, read and copy off of a blackboard, many of them DO NOT HAVE TEXT BOOKS, much less a NOVEL to read! Only yesterday I received a phonecall from a teaching friends who is trying her BEST to help her students learn to read and she is desperate for BOOKS Gr. 1-4. Can someone please tell me WHY and WHEN the decision was made to begin asking our parents to supply each child’s text books to the tune of $200-$300? Many of them cannot afford the required “reading book” much less text books! How many people honestly understand that there are many, many of our children who have never OWNED their own storybook?? Even a 2nd hand one? Charter schools could certainly be an option, especially for those parents who WISH to work hand in hand with teachers and their children’s education. They must be as committed as their children! However, lets just STOP, and think about HOW OUR CHILDREN NOW LEARN and adapting to their needs……..THAT WILL MEAN POSITIVE CHANGE!

  • Charter schools will help somewhat but what we neew is a re-tooling of the education system and its teachers,namely: after GLAT and BJC results are examined we need to meet with parents, children and teachers to determine who is elegable for either Academia or Trade school. Once this is determined and parents understand the program commencing grade 7 the separation should be made.

    Imagine trade school for 5 years with teachers re-tooled to teach the trades, civics, politics, ethics and small business management. Upon graduation participants will receive certification as a professional after some internship and become elegible for a state funded loan for a small business complete with NIB registration as self-employed and a system of payback for the loan through NIB contributions to a maximun of B$7,000.

    Those students who go on to Acedimia will go on through the traditional subjects but we will now drop BGCSE and adopt CXE exams in order to make our students more competetive with counterparts in the region. This will eliminate the disruptive nature of students in the classroom who do not want to learn the traditional way and energise them to persue their careers as thay would want to gain job related experience for the job market upon graduation.

    Teachers would become more fulfilled and students who are not interested in learning would be encouraged by the fact that they can be sucessful in fields that they are happy with. But this takes change and guts to enact. Would we play politics with such a plan or would the teachers union reject this in their short sightedness, or do we wait until a first world nation implements it and then we copy it. Think about this ok!


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