New year, old problems

CAROL MARTINDALE, carolmartindale@nationnews.com

Added 10 January 2013

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New year, new rules. A new year offers an opportunity for a fresh new start. It's a chance to wipe the slate clean, start anew and feel renewed and fresh. So why are we back to some of the same old issues that dogged this country in 2012? Case in point, the Alexandra School saga. This issue has gone on for way too long and been allowed to fester. Unfortunately, it is a problem that is no longer contained within the walls of the St Peter institution, as its tentacles have now spread throughout  the entire school  system. The reality is, this issue is no longer about Alexandra School, or even Jeff Broomes. What I would say though is that Broomes seems to be a very powerful man in this society. He has not only disrupted teaching and life at one school, but the entire secondary school education system. Right now this country can ill afford to expend more time sorting out this sordid mess. There are bigger issues we are dealing with, namely the impending national strike triggered by the breakdown in talks between the Barbados Workers’ Union and the telecommunications giant LIME. I believe the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) got more than it bargained for. Initially, the union was pushing for the separation of Broomes from Alexandra School. Instead, not only has Broomes been transferred  to Parkinson School, while the headteacher of that school, Orson Alleyne was shifted to the St Peter school, but 27 teachers have also been reassigned. The BSTU has been meeting with the affected teachers at the start of the term. In fact, Alexandra students returned to school one day later than their counterparts at other secondary schools. There have been further disruptions too with some of the teachers affected by the transfers reporting ill. It is now time to resolve this issue for the sake of the children. We have had the $500 000 commission of inquiry and recommendations in the Waterman Report. Some of these have been acted upon, even though it can be argued that the timing is way off. The teachers could have been shifted at the start of the school year instead of at the start of the second term.  That said, teachers need to get on with the job at hand. Head back to the classrooms and teach. We always stoutly argue that the children are the future and masquerade that the welfare of the nation' children is top priority. This is not about Broomes, the BSTU, nor the teachers affected by the transfers. This is about the children – our future. Carol Martindale is the Nation's Online Editor carolmartindale@nationnews.com

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