Minister defends education

| 14/04/2009

(CNS): Since the start of the 2009 election campaign, candidates from all sides have been quick to criticise government over the significant investment in new schools — berating the minister for building “ivory towers” while not addressing the fundamentals of teaching and learning. However, Alden McLaughlin, the Minister for Education, says that is exactly what he has been doing. He told CNS that he seriously doubts if any of his critics have even looked at the new Education Law, the National Curriculum or understood any of the historic changes that have been going on in the education system.

“The schools are just a part of this,” he said. “There have been monumental changes in the system over the last three years and we have transformed education. It has not been about superficial or popular changes, this has been about addressing the fundamental problems in education for the future. We aim to improve outcomes and give students in Cayman the best education in the world.”

McLaughlin explained that it all began with the National Conference in September 2005, where stakeholders were able to share their concerns and possible solutions for the future of education. “We started by addressing what was wrong with education,” he said. “From that came the national consensus document and everything has sprung from that.  The changes are bottom up they have come directly from the teachers, educators, the business community and other stakeholders.”

Critics have said teachers need more resources, better pay and better working conditions, and McLaughlin said that these are exactly the things that he and his team have worked on. He said all teachers salaries have increased along with other public sector workers, but he said it was never about pay. He said the poor morale among the profession was far more about the system, how they were valued, the lack of control and their professional development. Today 94% of all teachers are engaged in accredited training or professional development of some kind and have much greater say in the management of schools.

The National Curriculum with its key stages, which came into force this September, gives Cayman a national standard and benchmark for all students for the first time in its history. Children will be taught the same subjects to the same standards across the islands, and parents will understand where their children should be at what age. “The National Curriculum has been developed by a team of dedicated experts who have worked on each of the subject to ensure the best possible learning and outcomes,” he explained, adding that it has taken time to perfect but was an essential part of the transformation of the system.

For years, Cayman’s primary education was a mix of standards and styles with some children learning under a British system, others Caribbean or American. This, McLaughlin said, contributed to the significant problems later on. Students who seemed to be be doing well at primary school suddenly became C or D students at middle school. Without standardization, children were not been pushed to their capabilities in their early education and then were unable to catch up.

“This problem seriously manifested itself at George Hicks; parents were literally afraid to take their children there,” he said, adding that the success in addressing the problems there has now led to people forgetting exactly how bad things once were.

“In the wake of Ivan every school on Grand Cayman was damaged in some way,” he recalled. “George Hicks was operating a shift system and was not able to deliver a full curriculum. At first we utilized the Family Life centre but that wasn’t a perfect solution and it wasn’t until I asked Professor Stephen Heppell to take a look that we eventually came up with a long term strategy,” McLaughlin recalled.

The idea to split George Hicks into schools within a school was Heppell’s,  which tackled the problem of the overwhelming number of students in one place that had been the cause of the discipline issue in the school. Heppell, a leading expert in schools of the future, was a key part of McLaughlin’s team which helped reshape the education management system and the national curriculum. “The changes in education have not been the result of Alden McLaughlin’s genius; they have come from a team of professional experts and educators,” he said.

Another crucial area has been additional educational needs as he said the old system failed these children badly. “When I took office there were mothers literally camped out waiting to see me about it,” he said. “We have doubled the number of resources for additional education and begun to tackle some of the very serious problems.”

 McLaughlin said that in the past children had been going through the system perhaps identified as having some form of special needs but never being assessed during their entire time in school. Now educational needs have taken a priority, with all children being assessed and then their particular needs addressed. “There are many parents who can testify that the situation has improved dramatically,” he said, adding that by addressing the educational needs of children with problems, schools have also been able to address behavioural problems.

He said most of the policy changes in education were already being implemented and that the Education Law underpins the developments that are ongoing. He said children now were in school for an extra year and could choose vocational training during that last compulsory year of learning. He explained that once the new schools were completed and the middle school taken out of the system, the George Hicks site would become a technical and vocational or career learning centre.

“This is not about short term goals. This has been all about better outcomes for the future and obviously it takes a lot more than four years,” he said. “If this costs me the electionthen so be it, but I think history will be kinder about the judgments and the decisions we made for education,” McLaughlin added.

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  1. Anonymous says:

     They all get up and talk about making all these changes to the education system, but my question is will these changes in turn make them the ministry send their kids to Government school?  As far as I am concerned majority of them send their kids to private school which goes to show that they don’t have or ever had any faith in the same system in which majority of us have to send our kids.   It should have never taken them this long to realize that the system has been failing us for years.

    I have nothing against Alden but I would not want to see him get in again as he is not one of the best role models for the kids to look up to.  We have to remember that what happens on this Island does get around and although some of us parents do watch what we say in front of our kids there are others that don’t.  I have found out most of what goes on around here from my kids coming home and telling me.  To the previous writer that wrote about the rumors I totally agree with you.  They need to remember that while being in high positions everyone is looking up to you and every choice you make they will know.

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    CNS: I think that you should give Roy Tatum a section under your viewpoints heading – for his long diatribs and meanderings are most tiresome to read under the responces. In so doing he can get as many responces and answer accordindly without interrupting the flow of the short retorts.

    Please consider this.

    CNS: Mr Tatum is welcome to submit a Viewpoint. See CNS Viewpoint

  3. Roy Tatum says:

     

    Dear respectfully…
     
    I appreciate the feedback – and I am not trying to change your mind. I am just sharing my views. I will share a bit more if I could:
     
     A slow down does not an global economic crisis make. There were concerns regarding what was viewed as a possible US recession – but as I noted many people assumed that, like the Economist Magazine, the US would possibly escape a recession or at least it would be short-lived. I remember well the talking heads on CNN & MSNBC. In early 2008 no one could say for sure what would be happening – and certainly the Government could not on a whim cancel its already commenced plans – plans that were viewed as important.
     
    But one point of my comments  was that Mr Bush is not being honest in my view when he pretends that he knew in 2008 that the world would be where we are now.  He did not know.
     
    Debt service:
    In terms of servicing the debt – the UK would not allow us to get into debt above what we could afford. As I recall the UK visited us for a regular review last year and left happy. If needed I can re-check this and give specifics.  
     
    The ratings agencies also said that they were happy and as I recall acknowledged that the borrowing had increased but the money was being spent on needed infrastructure and was affordable to the country. Our country rating  was left unchanged at the time.
     
    Finally look into how much Government will be saving yearly in leases once the new Admin building is done. The sum of $10M comes to mind as a minimum savings –   this will go towards servicing the debt and the new building will be paid for in 10 years. 
     
    Tourism
    Tourism numbers may be declining in 2009 but   visitor arrivals closed out for 2008 at above 300K – the best it has been since 2001/2002. But not wanting to merely look at visitor arrival numbers  I recently checked the hotel occupancy rate statistics for 2008 and these were at 60% for hotels and 40% for condos (annual average). Also the best stats since 2001/2002. 
     
    I also checked the reported trends since 2004 and each year the number was growing. So in early 2008 the indications for tourism was showing an up year and that is how it ended.
     
    Financial services
    The financial services business took hits on the international front but local business remained good. There are some tough days ahead but the industry is in good shape and poised to grow again once the international situation improves. 
    We so far, don’t even know what they spent where.
    Please do not help to propagate another UDP myth. I believe you are referring to the unaudited financial statements of Government. I work for a business that every year has its books audited. But even before the audit we know how much money we have and how it is spent. We also know the value of our assets and how much we owe.
     
    An audit is just that – it is an independent check on the figures that we have put together. The government does have financial statements that ate not yet unaudited – but the fact is that the Government by way of the Financial secretary  do have financial statement that tell them what they have, where it was spent, and what they owe.  It now needs to be audited. 
     
    So it is not correct to state that Government do not know where money is spent or indeed how much we have – again the UK would not allow this to happen. They are bad enough in not ensuring that the audits are done (remember this  falls to the Governor) but they would not go as far as you have indicated.
     
    Projects
     I will say again that even if one believes that the roads or schools or Admin building was not needed it must be acknowledged that in tough times Governments must spend to keep money flowing. This is what almost every country is doing today – and spending on improving education and infrastructure and in keeping civil servants in jobs so worthwhile. It keeps people in work and keeps them buying at grocery stores and helps keep other people in work.
      
    I will close by saying that I cannot change your mind – but with a little luck I hope that if my case has merit and I have done a decent job at stating it – than as a minimum you will read my thoughts and learn something new, and we can then agree to disagree if that is the case.
  4. Anonymous says:

    Respectfully, Mr. Tatum, I surely noticed a slow down in the economy in 2008, as I’m sure did many others. In a household when our debt-service ratio gets so top heavy that we can’t manage our finances, and put away a little for emergencies, we know where we are headed. I would think that governments should know the same. The borrow and spend mentality has certainly put the US in a mess. I DO believe that this government has put us at risk by borrowing so much so quickly. How are we, the people, going to service this debt? Who can argue that tourirsm is not declining? Our financial industry is under hardship. Where are we going to get the money to pay these loans? We can’t just cross our fingers and hope that magically we will bring in enough to do it. Having worked in the service industry, heavily reliant on tips, I too well know that you can live like a King in the good months, and starve in the bad, if you don’t manage your money carefully.

    This government cannot convince me that they have acted responsibly. We so far, don’t even know what they spent where.

  5. Roy Tatum says:

     

     

    An economics professor once told me that the answer to every economics question should start with the words ‘it depends’.  I am remembering this as I read an article in the NY Times regarding an apology by the prestigious Economist magazine for completely missing the world economic crisis that came to a head in the latter half of 2008 and continues into 2009.  I quote from the article:

     

    “For 23 years, The Economist has issued bold predictions for the coming year in its thick December special issue. ….  “About 2008: sorry,” reads a note from the issue’s editor, Daniel Franklin, in the prediction edition for 2009. Who would have seen the financial crisis coming, Mr. Franklin asked? “Not us. The World in 2008 failed to predict any of this,” he said.”

     

    And specifically regarding the US economy in 2008, the Economist magazine predicted that:  “…America should just avoid recession…”.   

     

     

    With this backdrop I then find it remarkable to hear Mr Bush and his UDP now touting how in early 2008 they foresaw the current global economic crisis and hence proposed a motion asking Government to effectively reduce their planned capital projects.

     

    If indeed Mr Bush predicted the current state of the world then certainly he should be commended – for he predicted what the leaders of the industrialised nations, and indeed many economists, failed to do.   But perhaps they do not have Mr Bush’s crystal ball nor his astute economics mind.

     

    So what did Mr Bush supposedly predict in early 2008.  On looking at his motion (PMM 13 07/08) he does note, and I paraphrase, that the global economic outlook has been downgraded, including the imminent impact of an economic recession in the USA, and hence given our close connection to the USA the  revenues of the country will likely be impacted. He then suggested that Government should reduce its expenditure and borrowing over the short term.  Mr Tibbetts was correct to not heed his requests.

     

    On the face of it one could say that he made a good prediction. But as my economics professor would say – it depends.   Certainly the world was experiencing high food and rising oil prices prices at the time.   And there were some concern regarding the US housing and credit markets.  But the US Presidential candidates did not even start to focus on an economic downturn until late in 2008. You see, not only did the venerable Economist magazine predict in late 2007 that the US would narrowly avoid a recession in 2008, but so did many esteemed economists and talking heads on TV.  Granted there were also those with the opposite view. And yes the US Fed was marching interest rates downward intending to stave off a recession – so in the minds of many financial gurus, the glass was as half full as it was half empty.  

     

     So what happened?  Well it seems that many things that could go wrong did –  some might say that  the stars aligned themselves in a  way that had never happened before and created an economic domino effect: ~ high oil prices; high food prices;  bad lending policies; housing bubble bust; over-leveraging of businesses that should know better; collateralized debt obligations; insufficient regulation onshore; corporate greed; toxic assets; Madoff fraud; banking failures; the credit crunch; manufacturing crisis; countries and municipalities losing money; stock market collapse;  a retail crisis; huge job losses; and the list goes on.  The result was a global economiccrisis.

     

    So…   with all this in mind – can Mr Bush honestly say that he knew in February 2008 what no leader in the G20 would pretend to know when they did not?  Can he honestly say that he predicted the Global Economic Crisis as we know it today?   Can he say that he knew in February 2008 that there would be over 2.5 million jobs lost in the USA from September to December 2008 and a further 2 + million so far for 2009? 

     

    If he is honest he would say that he did not really know.  But sadly Mr Bush is actually claiming publically that he knew in 2008 that we would experience this crisis that the globe faces today. 

     

    I somewhat understand the political expediency for his pretending that he knew the current crisis would occur – but I expect a lot more honesty in my leader.  Admitedly I do not expect a lot of honesty from Mr Bush and his UDP nor truth be told do the majority of the people in this country.

     

    To give him the benefit of the doubt Mr Bush may have been concerned about a US recession in 2008; but in my view he had no clue that the World nor Cayman would be where we are today, and as such he continues his and the UDP’s practise of being careless with the truth.  

     

    Recessions are cyclical – Governments cannotalways avoid them and generally adopt a policy of spending (especially on capital works) &/or tax breaks, coupled with lowering interest rates to invigorate a slowing economy.   But fortunately economic disasters, especially global ones, are much rarer.  

     

    But lets return to Mr Bush’s motion in February 2008 and examine the Governments response to the motion.  On re-reading the LAs Hansards I note that the Financial Secretary took the time to discuss every one of Mr Bush’s concerns.  He pointed out that:

    • The possible US recession was not being ignored but was being watched carefully and would be addressed  during the 2008/2009 budget session.  
    • He did note the efforts of the US to stimulate their economy and also noted that it seemed early days yet as to whether they would be successful.
    • He confirmed that the expected borrowing for capital projects was well within the accepted conservative levels as required by law and was affordable to the country.

     

    Mr Jefferson listened to Mr Bush’s concerns but in effect stated that he was very comfortable with the proposed level of expenditure and borrowing.  Indeed it was acceptable even to the UK.   

     

    Mr Tibbetts in his debate to the motion spoke to the points raised by the Financial Secretary and also noted the  urgent need to complete the various key capital projects. All of which are long over due.  But Mr Tibbetts also noted that:

     

    ‘’… we do accept and expect that whatever negative effects are felt over there (USA)  will have some effect on us.  But… the Government cannot adopt the attitude that Government activities must shrink in order to fall in line with what may be seen as a slow down in the economy.

     

    There has to be a balance, because it is incumbent on the Government to create opportunities directly or indirectly for business to thrive…  But there is no better time for the Government to be engaging in the much needed projects than now, because for the immediate, and perhaps into the medium term, interest rates are going to be perhaps very low. And it is a good time for borrowing, and I agree that we must borrow within the acceptable limits”

     

    I have to say that in my view Mr Tibbetts was correct in 2008 and continues to be correct.  The projects which were started are not only important but are indeed long overdue; and  the longer we wait to get them done the more that they will cost the country – if they get done at all.   Remember how Mr Bush stopped Mr Ezzards hospital and Mr Linfords Roads!   Mr Bushwas short-sighted then and continues to be short-sighted – perhaps even worse today.  And when these necessary projects were finally done – it cost the country millions more.

     

    Additionally, the spending on the various projects will assist in stimulating the economy and keep people in jobs and money circulating. This is what Good Governments do – they responsibly create opportunities even in the worst of times.   But Mr Bush has no idea as to what a Good Government is and thus would do nothing.

     

    Below is another quote that I agree with, and whose sentiment is similar to that expressed by Mr Tibbetts.  President Obama, when speaking to those critising his spending plan, which also includes investing in roads, health, and schools, said the following:

     

    "…  we can differ on some of the particulars, but again, the question I think that the American people are asking is: Do you just want government to do nothing, or do you want it to do something? If you want it to do something, then we can have a conversation, …. "But doing nothing — that’s not an option, from my perspective."

     

    So Mr Bush…   in my view the questions on the minds of the Caymanian people are:

    ·         Why are you so careless with the truth; and

    ·         Can we truly afford to continue to sit idly by and ignore our crumbling schools  and other infrastructure needs.

     

    Fellow Caymanians the answer to the first question in my view is he and the UDP  cannot help themselves.  Mr Bush cannot help himself. Not even in his born again (and again and again) re-incarnation.

     

    And if Mr Bush was truly an economic whiz then he would know that the answer to the second question is NO – we cannot afford to not do these projects.

     

    The PPM’s accomplishments, including the schools etc, are real and positively impact the development of our people; our quality of life; and help provide jobs and support businesses.    I know that the majority of Caymanians agree that we cannot stand frozen in the headlights of fear and stop moving forward as a people and a country.  

     

    I know that on May 20 the people of this country will confirm that we do not want a UDP Government that will make lots of noise but do nothing for four years.  We will return a PPM Government that has a good record of HONEST stewardship to show and who will continue to perform ably for the people of this country.  We will vote for the PPM because we understand that voting for a do nothing UDP is not an option. 

     

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    The facts are there was no cursing from the platform at the PPM meeting, there are more Caymanians on government scholarships for post-secondary education and the new schools being built are an investment in our future.  Educating our people is the best way to equip them to make a better future for themselves and to be productive, prosperous members of our society instead of being on the wrong side of the law.

     If you want to see your children, our children have the best chance at education that elected members of the Cayman Islands Government can influence then we will want to seriously consider re-electing Kurt Tibbetts, Alden McLaughlin and their PPM colleagues. 
     
    The whole world is in an economic recession and it is not realistic to expect that our country, the Cayman Islands can escape entirely, but so far thanks to solid policies and a steady hand at the helm we are doing far better than many other countries including our big neighbours to the North.   It could already be a lot worse for us folks!
     
    Think back to elections prior to 2005, don’t forget the chaos/confusion and self-centred horse trading that followed a general election when there was no clear leader. The PPM represents the best way forward.  PPM candidates and members are free to speak their minds while being honest enough to admit that serious progress requires cooperation and coordination and common purpose and shared vision.   I realize that we may wish for the “good old” days when our politicians were “independents” but the world and the Cayman Islands are very different today in the 21st Century.   Would you run a company or a professional sports team without a clear management structure? Similarly we should elect a group that has shown integrity, but flexibility, determination, but compassion, long term vision and strategy, but pragmatism and are committed to a coherent set of policies and a known leadership and is passionate and willing to work hard with the rest of us to make the Cayman Islands a better place. The last four years have shown us that the PPM can and will deliver.
    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, Alden did curse fromthe platform..I heard it myself and all the others around me including some of our elderly that were quite offended.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This has got to be the silliest comment I have ever heard. How sad it is that you think the PPM was totally innocent of this alleged crime against Caymanians. I guess the PPM could do nothing about it. Their hands were tied – as always.

    An to add to that the Minister of Education had to go and build more schools, borrowing so much funds as to place the burden on the backs of the Caymanian people and their children to pay this massive debt.

    And let me guess – we had to build a new administration building to house all of the government departments who have to deal with these indigent foreigners who have come to our shores and received ill-gained statuses and, oh my goodness, we had to build so much roads to bus the poor things who cannot afford transportation to school and to work.

    And we have had to house and cloth those poor souls, who cannot afford to do so by themselves and that is why Government has failed to build some decent affordable housing for our own Caymanian people.

    And to add to that we have to now make amendments to our constitution so that those poor souls will have a bill of rights to protect them from us – the horrible Caymanians who want to get them all out of our country.

    Do you people not see the mass hysteria that the PPM government is once again planting in your minds? All foreigners are little green men who are invading us and taking over our country.
  8. Anonymous says:

    …..What has happened to his PS Angela Martins?

    She is doing the smart thing and staying out of this political mess called the PPM – I would too if I were her – stay low and keep your head down ‘cos you’ll be the next person Alden will blame for his indiscretions and in-addeqacies – if you dear open your mouth. SSSSssshhh Angie stay down girl!

  9. anon says:

    "…I don’t care about turtles, or dolphins…only that each and every Caymanian child is sleeping tonight with a full belly, and this is NOT happening folks…"

    I wholeheartly agree – people in this country are suffering very much, many have lost ther jobs, can’t find jobs, losing their homes, can’t pay electrical and water bills. It is just a little too much to bear knowing that this money was spent on so many roads ad buildings and some if not at least 1/2 could have been put aside for a rainy day – LIKE TODAY – to aid the people. Social Services is not able to help famalies who find themselves in need of a little just to get by for a day.

    This is a shame for anyone planning their budget would have said "times are getting tough, lets put a little aside incase we run out and need to buy food, pay bills etc." Why did this government not do that? What made them think they could burrow and spend, burrow and spend as if there was no tomorrow. Why?

    • Anonymous says:

      Blame the UDP for giving away those status to people who carried the extended families and adopted mary, jane, sister, borther and need government assistance. Then they tell you  "mi neva beg fa status,  you gov giv it tu mi, so de betta tek care a mi an mi family now".   

      Caymanian are not  against  all Status Holders, but if the status had went through the right channel, we would never gotten the people that we have to help as the above.

  10. Anonymous says:

    At this point in our development, I don’t care about turtles, or dolphins…only that each and every Caymanian child is sleeping tonight with a full belly, and this is NOT happening folks…And if you want a real eye opener, take a swing by the Pines…You hear nothing about the Pines, but the Humane Society is the darling charity right now…I beg all of you…please, just go by the Pines and see how the facilities compare to the Humane Society…Just check it out, and think about it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ask Aldens former clients how satistfied they are with his representation….Dont accept rumour, but go and really ask…about the candidates morale, ethics …because I have run into alot of folks that are none too pleased about the integrity issue. And personally, he just seems very mean and antagonistic any time he confronts critisism. He is really no better than any of us but he certainly seems to be nourishing that impression. And I am very disappointed that he would throw rocks at Jonathan Piercy at the launch…WHY? Be a man and debate him on the issues. If you want to take him on with intelligence, than please do so…But dont pppander to the mmasses just for ppanderings sake.

  12. Julie says:

    "How can you be heard if you are not there? Yes I know the ministers are getting a big salary but some of them have way too much going on in their personal lives to fully concentrate on their jobs.

    "If some of the rumors that do go around about these people we have in high places is true I feel that they should be asked to step down. As far as I am concerned if the rumors are true then they have no right to be standing there as role models for our young kids…."
     
    I am glad someone had the cahunas to say what we are all hearing on the streets…. and CNS to actually post it – and do not forget the CURSING on the podium from this minister in particular.
    Don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the people of this country need to start taking notice – we cannot have people preaching one thing to our face and behind our backs doing the opposite – and on the other hand cry down all others. This is hypocrocy at its worst.
    • Anonymous says:

      What has happened to his PS Angela Martins? Is she ok? She’s usually very vocal and energetic but there is silence from her.

  13. Anonymous says:




    Somebody is always bashing somebody for airing their opinion.  As far as I am concerned everyone is entitled to their opinion whether you agree or not.  The purpose of being able to comment on the stories is to put your thoughts out there.  What would be nice if some of the ministers from the different categories would reply to some of the concerns.

    As far as I am concern the UDP and PPM battle no longer has Cayman interest at hand, it is now about who can beat who to the punch.  We bash PPM and we bash UDP but at the end of the day they have all made mistakes on their time that we do not all agree with.

    Our education system needs help, we all need to put in our ideas and go to the schools meeting and put in our inputs in order to be heard.  If you go to the school meeting only 1/3 of the parents are ever there.  How can you be heard if you are not there?  Yes I know the ministers are getting a big salary but some of them have way too much going on in their personal lives to fully concentrate on their jobs.

    If some of the rumors that do go around about these people we have in high places is true I feel that they should be asked to step down.  As far as I am concerned if the rumors are true then they have no right to be standing there as role models for our young kids.

    Vote whomever you feel is right for the job as you will have to live with it for the next four years.

  14. anonymous says:

    Is it not great that Alden still has to get an article for himself written by his supporter (CNS) in his defence after four years. Wow, were are the other articles written on behalf of the other candidates on thier issues.

    CNS: Take a look at our Election Section for other articles on individual candidates. Moreover, Alden McLaughlin is a minister who has just introduced a very important piece of legislation.

  15. anonymous says:

    “What McLaughlin has done is begin the long tjob of rebuilding a modern system. My fear is that the impossible desire from the electorate to see quick fixes will see him turfed from office half way through the project to seriously repair the school system. Voters need to consider carefully what will happen if someone takes up this….”    Who is my – as in my fear?

    This is so typical of the PPM government resorting to scare tactics – if they do not get their way. And this Minister is a professor in this field – he could write the book on ‘scare tactics’ and ‘fear mongoring’.
     
    (“He told CNS that heseriously doubts if any of his critics have even looked at the new Education Law, the National Curriculum or understood any of the historic changes that have been going on in the education system. “)
     
    If Mr. Alden failed to effectively inform the electorate in the four and a half years that he has had in office then who’s fault is this. You do not hear any other candidates crying. Mr. Alden is a whiner. Always whining why he does not have this and why he can’t do that – now it is his critics that has not read the education bill and that it was not his idea but that of  "Professor Stephen Heppell".
     
    Please spare us the whining – we are tired of this. Either you get the job done or youstep aside and let someone else do it – Mr. McLaughlin was paid and may I add, paid handsomely, to do the job, so please spare us the whining. 
     
    Furthermore – If Mr. Alden McLaughlin is building for the future he would not have built it all at one time. He would have completed the process in stages like the rest of us have to do when we PLAN FOR OUR FUTURE. He could have completed the Brac High School which was the most needed and then the George Town Primary School and while doing that he could have concentrated on the teachers, their low moral and their salaries AND need I stress the curriculum. So do not tell us that Alden was planning for the future of this country. It was for his own future that he was planning and most certainly not the people. So stop with the whining, get on with the job at hand. Why must it always be about you, you , you and why, why, why, I, I, I can’t get it done. Or me, me, me.
     
    Minister Alden is always willing to take credit when the going is good, but when the going gets rough it’s always someone else to blame or someone else’s idea or he did not know, or he was mislead or he is stuck working while others are out there campaigning…
     
    This is becoming so manotomous.
     

     

     

  16. Anonymous says:

    It is true that McLaughlin has made some needed foundational improvements to the education system.

    However, the new schools plan, expensive foreign consultants, Dr Heppels, OWP/P etc – was very ill concieved and showed the lack of prudence of McLaughlin. It has been and would have been even more so if went through, a very expensive mistake for Cayman to make. Certianly we will need new schools moving forward, but the wildly expensive and  fancy designs they went with – highlighted the poor judgement. Build quality and approriately designed schools, yes. But if we are to spend huge amounts of money on education, I’d prefer we spend it on recruting and training excellent teachers, smaller teacher to pupil ratios, and on things that will actually materially improve the quality of our childrens education and experience in school. These were all sidelined for fancy buildings. And there were atleast a dozen people locally who could have told the Ministry of Education, for free, everything that they paid Heppell hundereds of thousands of dollars to tell them. While I do not doubt some good was achieved during his tenure, including massive improvements at UCCI (despite whatever else may have happened and which remain), this WAS your typical banana repubic politican building white elephant projects / castles  to himself. Not what Cayman needs. The notes on personal traits are not meant to be a personal attack, and I mention them as I think they were part of the mistakes made – and what we should keep in mind as we look for a new Minister of Education (not that the UDP provide many better options). 

    Whether or not McLauglin was the most prudent Minister of Education, his passion for improving education in Cayman cannot be questioned. Hopefully McLaughlin will continue to passionately champion the cause of education in Cayman from the back bench or outside of the LA if he does not make it back in.

    And it should be incumbent on whoever will be elected in May, to continue the improvements that have been made in Education so far – while fixing the mistakes made – and NOT starting over from scratch and thowing out the previous administrations plans, policies and progess only because they were the previous administration’s.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I much rather money spent on education than TURTLES. Please try to remember that’s where the money went when the UDP was in charge, and those poor turtles for all the money wasted, they are living in filth.

    For all that you want to say; this present Government has put in infrastructure for the future of the country, open your eyes don’t be so boxed in and blinded by narrow minded jealous wantabe politicians. The UDP government was only concern with their own future by giving away your heritage (Caymanian status) in hope of future votes.

  18. Anonymous says:

    According to Minister McLaughlin…"We aim to improve outcomes"…Well its good to aim but where are the results? He has not published any exam results in the four years that he has been in office! I wish he would tell us what happened during this period….is he still aiming? When can we expect to see some real results…20 years from now? 

    There is a distinct difference between rhetoric and reality. And this is strictly electioneering rhetoric. The reality is Alden has done nothing in education expect spend a load of money and retire dozen of capable Caymanian teachers whose only crime was – they disagreed with him.

    The truth is neither Alden nor his Chief officer are qualified or experienced in education. So we expect that they will be likely to be dazzled by the first so-called experts that walk through their doors. The most qualified person in the PPM for Minister of Education is actually Lucille Seymour….but that aint gonna happen….cause she’s the Rodney Dangerfield of the PPM and Alden is the Teflon Man. 

  19. Anonymous says:

    But do the kids really have a lack of toilet paper in the schools? Thats what I keep hearing.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Build a school in a day?

    Has anyone who wants to see results from Minister McLaughlin ever considered how long it takes to go from empty ground to finished, occupied school?  Seriously.  Do you think they drew the plans on a paper napkin and then suddenly the building is build the next day.  Anyone who has worked in construction can tell you that there is much time required to build a building, let alone the campus that is being built in Frank Sound for example.  Just the drawings and plans could take 6 months to a year.  You certainly would not have wanted them to rush the process, just as you would not rush the building of your dream home. 

    I understand that people are concerned about the cost, and perhaps he went overboard in his plans for these schools but it is an investment in YOUR childrens future and the best jobs will be given to your educated work force, not expats, CAYMANIANS.   It may not seem like it now but those schools were needed and if you instill in your children that a good education is the root of all success, then they will be worth it.  Look to the future and what your young people can become with a good education. 

     

  21. Anonymous says:

    Some of you are so shallow it’s scary! I long to see the day when comments made by the public are based on facts and are reasonable whether for or against.  Unfortunately lots of comments online reflect the true neglect of education in this Country for the past years….thank heavens for PPM and intelligent people like Alden McLaughlin who are able to put the interests of the Caymanian people ahead of their own!

  22. Concerned about education says:

    Concerned about education………………….

    ………..What is interesting about this article is that it demonstrates the problems politicians have with just four years. Given the fundamental problems with education even a magician would have struggled to put things right in that time. What McLaughlin has done is begin the long tjob of rebuilding a modern system. My fear is that the impossible desire from the electorate to see quick fixes will see him turfed from office half way through the project to seriously repair the school system. Voters need to consider carefully what will happen if someone takes up this office and does not continue the work, we will be back to square one. Consider who exactly could end up in the job and think long and hard about your children. There is no quick fix to repairing our education system it is a long hard road and like him or not McLaughlin has at least put us on it. There have already been many significant changes but in order for the candidates to know that it would require reading and researching something that seems beyond the capabilities of most candidates — but then again we can’t blame them, they were after all educated under the old system which McLaughlin at least has had the guts to try and change.

  23. Anonymous says:

    In addition to nothing to show for it…how will this money be re paid? I agree the schooling system had to be changed in order to increase efficiency from ‘Cayman’ education. On the other hand, I do not believe the loans granted for building new schools was absolutely necessary. Especially in these times. Government funding has to be carefully planned as we are not a country fit for 3 billion dollars in loans.

    Form personal finances, we cannot build a house, purchase a car and all other projects simultaneously, everything must be done in stages as is with a country. This government has borrowed 3billion dollars which its population of 20,000 Caymanians will be responsible for.

    I do not believe the education minister has made the best decisions.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Education Minister this will not help you to be re-elected though!!

    You and your Government (PPM) have spent too much money and yet nothing to show for it!!

    I totally agree the the poster …Lots of spin here by mr mclaughlin. Now you answer these questions for the people of the Cayman Islands??

  25. Anonymous says:

    Lots of spin here by mr mclaughlin. he may care to answer the following:

    what hapened to vocational training?

    why are teachers quitting like crazy?

    why is teachers morale at an all time low?

    where are the schoold that for which we are now so greatly indebted. can you please show us at least 1 completed building?

    why has UCCI which always had a promise…been turned into the crisis that it has within 4 years?

    this list could go on if space and time were in abundance

    • actual teacher not spin doctor says:

      I can answer the questions posed  by ‘Lots of spin here’:

      What happened to vocational training? At John Gray students can do more vocational courses than they have ever been able to do before ranging from traditional construction skills to catering and tourism.

      Why are teachers quitting like crazy? They’re not.  This is wrong.

      Why is teachers’ morale at an all time low?  It isn’t.  This is also wrong.  Yes, we’re daunted at the changes but excited too.  We also feel that finally people at the top are taking notice of what teachers have been saying for years and listening to us.  The training that we’re getting and the support is the best we’ ve ever had.

      Where are the schools? Duh – the school at Frank Sound will be finished by Sept 2010 and the new JGHS is well on the way too – go have a look – they’re not hidden.

      Why is UCCI in crisis? Ask the acting president.  As far as I’m aware, the ministry has little, if anything, to do with UCCI as it’s post-compulsory education.  They offer what courses they want and respond to market forces.

      Some of the postings are getting ridiculous – spouting nonsense which I guess will only get worse between now and 20 May.  I just hope people see sense to vote ppm back in to carry on their good, brave work in education – teachers are behind them!  

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Alden for taking an interest in education and doing something about it. Rome was not built in a day and  things will turn around with better results in the future because of the foundation  being laid now.  Part of the problem in the schools now is due to the poor performance by the former Minister of Education under the UDP party who as far as I am concerned did absolutely nothing except collect his salary. Evidence is there to support the progress being made if one wants to see it, however, in the same vein if one does not want to see/acknowledge it then just follow the UDP and not even ttake an interest it or try to understand it.  I voted straight PPM in 2005 and come May 20th 2009, God willing, will do so again. Keep up the progress.