EVERYTHING BUT: Please, teacher!
By Ridley Greene | Wed, April 25, 2012 - 12:00 AM
Most of us went into conniptions last week when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart played the commission of inquiry card in the ongoing Alexandra saga.
What good could come of this bureaucratic probe, outside of some respite for the Prime Minister himself and an opportunity to bring Mary-Anne Redman to some Christian understanding?
As circumstance meandered along in the last couple of days, the frayed emotions of some of us were restored.
We began to think, in the main, that Mr Stuart, after all, took the right course.
Mr Stuart, with a cooler head than most, must have foreseen the consequences of his latest decision a long time before – when he was well past phase two and those of us like Ms Redman were still stuck there.
You will notice that minds are more soberly articulating positions on this most complex issue. Nigh everyone now understands that Prime Minister Stuart could not just up and “separate” Alexandra principal Jeff Broomes merely because Ms Redman and her perturbed 30 fellow teachers so wished it.
As Mr Stuart explained at last Thursday’s post-Cabinet Press conference: “I prefer – and I’ve said it to the teachers – that if there has to be a separation, that separation takes account of the facts that we operate under and subscribe to the rule of law, and therefore if there has to be a separation eventually, legal grounds would have to be found for that separation. The grounds can only be found on evidence.”
Which brings us to this most discomfiting practice of Ms Redman’s putting the Prime Minister on the spot. Ever since Ms Redman and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union had that first secret meeting (the one where the “accused” was not present) with Mr Stuart, and a phase two was subsequently being bandied about, the BSTU head has ever reminded the Prime Minister publicly that there was an agreement of “separation” of Mr Broomes.
Ms Redman’s legal adviser Hal Gollop never confirmed that announcement, and Mr Stuart never publicly addressed it until last week. Specifically asked if he or his Government had promised to “separate” Broomes from Alexandra School as a prerequisite to having the striking teachers return to work last term, the Prime Minister replied resoundingly “no”.
It must be the mettle of which union leaders are made. Even now as everyone is pretty much settled on this commission of inquiry as a resolution, Ms Redman is insisting that in keeping with best practice and after the BSTU’s discussions with Mr Stuart that the expectation is that “the principal of that institution will be sent on leave with full pay when the warrant establishing said commission is issued”.
Well, the Prime Minister will be doing no such thing.
As far as he is concerned, Ms Redman will have to petition the Chief Personnel Officer; twist her arm, if she must; and Ms Redman is by no means of the faint-hearted.
But the BSTU head may have misunderstood the Prime Minister again – if we will stay with Mr Stuart’s emphatic “no”. Spirited expectations have a way of clouding one’s judgement and comprehension of a matter.
Fired up and fire-red as usual, Mary said her BSTU expected the commission of inquiry to fully vindicate the teachers. Positive thinking perhaps, but when one considers that in an inspection report of Alexandra School presented to the Ministry of Education last April some fingers have been pointed at teachers themselves, it will take more than positivism.
To her credit, Ms Redman has sworn to respect “the circumstances” of the commission of inquiry and keep out of the limelight. I had got accustomed now to her red frocks! The days will be greyer.
What all of us would like though of Ms Redman is that her teachers do their utmost to not only work with their students, but with their principal. They cannot ignore his presence or spirit.
None of us has to like someone to work with him – or her!
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