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