“No apologies” for schools

| 11/09/2009

(CNS): Despite the enormous criticisms that he has faced for building state-of-the-art education facilities, the former minister for education has vigorously defended his decision regarding the school development project. He said the decisions were carefully considered and those schools had been designed to give Caymanian children the best possible chance of improving their educational outcomes. McLaughlin also lamented what he said was a big difference between the political parties when it came to commitment to education and he made no apologies for initiating the school projects.

 “There is a huge divergence in the philosophy of the PPM and the UDP regarding the value of education. The Leader of Government Business himself, McKeeva Bush, places very little value on education and so the priorities of the two governments have always been very different,” McLaughlin said at a PPM conference on Wednesday. “He spent $62 million building Boatswain Beach. During our term of office we pumped $27 million into that to subsidize recurrent expenditure. Is that value for money?”

The former minister said education is the most critical area that government needs to address in the Cayman Islands. “We had not built a high school in more than a quarter century,” he observed, adding that parts of John Gray are more than fifty years old. He said the decision to build the school was carefully considered and based on growing numbers and the desire to eliminate the need for kids to get up at 5 am and spend hours travelling to and from school from the districts, as well as the impact on traffic.

“We spent a lot of time looking at the logistics of what we were trying to achieve,” he explained. “There was also the equity issue. How could we say to one set of parents and students that you are entitled to state of the art 21st century learning environments because you live in this particular area but those of you that remain in George Town will have to make do with education facilities that have been around since the fifties?”

McLaughlin emphasised that these were some of the reasons why the PPM had decided to build all three schools at once. Justifying the costs of the learning facilities, he said he had spent a lot of time looking at learning environments around the world and how those environments impact outcomes for students.

“Anyone who has taken the time to do the research will see that the impact is immense,” he added. “I am making no apology for seeking to achieve the best possible learning environments the country could afford for the children of these islands. I just hope … that the functionality is not compromised so they don’t deliver what they were designed to deliver.”

He said, based on things he had heard, he was concerned that there were plans to undermine the facilities that would be on offer and the principles behind the new learning environments because of a different belief towards how children are taught. “There are those who continue to subscribe to the view that just building boxes where children sit in regimental rows and are instructed by the teacher will suffice,” he said. “That’s what the last government did when they built Prospect Primary.”

$10 million was spent on a school initially designed for 500 students, McLaughlin noted, with few of the facilities that the new campuses will provide. “One year after it opened it was over capacity and the music and art rooms have been turned into classrooms,” he said, adding that there was now a modular unit there less than five years after construction. McLaughlin warned that this is what happens without long term consideration about future educational needs.

The former minister said it was not just about the facilities but he had focused on professional development of teachers, the introduction of the first national curriculum and a transformation of the education system. He said the goal was to improve outcomes and there was clear evidence that outcomes were improving as a result of the changes he had introduced.

“That’s what it is all about — unless you are producing better outcomes none of it really matters,” he said. “We are able to point to the most recent … examination results. There is tangible evidence that the steps we have taken are working. We have gone from 17% in 2006 of students getting at least five good passes to 27% in 2008 and 36% this year.”

McLaughlin also emphasised that the new campuses are not just schools but they will also provide community facilities and hurricane shelters.  “Its time to stop beating up on projects that are going to inure for the benefit of the people of these island,” he said, adding that while he or the PPM may never be in office again, if the projects were properly completed and served proper purpose, it would redound for the benefit of the children of these islands. If they didn’t they would breach the fundamental duty they have as elected representatives.

“Its time to get on with doing the job and stop complaining that the job is too difficult for them,” McLaughlin added.

Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts also defended the new Government Administration Building, noting that not only would it save government revenue on leases, it would be 70% more efficient than the Glass House, the current office accommodation used by government . He said the project would soon pay for itself and provide government with an asset. He also said that while the government was criticised for improving infrastructure, it would be hard to imagine life without the East-West arterial road.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why are you surprised that Caymanian parents are lamenting the fact over the cost for the new schools? Their priorities have long been more than messed up. They drive spanking new big SUVs that they can barely afford, but they come asking government for plywood during hurricane season! I be if the money would have been spent on building a big shopping mall, nobody would have complained. Bet my behind that those ones who are complaining now will be the first ones who are going to send their children and grandchildren to those new schools, and will be the first ones to plan their events there…… 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not on the kindest of mornings, Alden!!!

    Alden’s long diretribe on the schools is misplaced and overblown. As usual he seeks to blame everyone else except himself and Kurt Tibbetts. Fact 1. all stakeholders agreed and were briefed and agreed on the best way forward for the turtle farm as a tourism attraction facility. The cruise ships agreed on the business plan whihc included a landing jetty in West Bay which the cruise industry provided funding for. Had that Business Plan been followed the turtle farm would not have cost government the money he says. Fact 2. Had The PPM tourism minister worked with the cruiseship industry to bring visitors to the park the turtle farm would not have lost the money that Alden is saying. The fact is that the PPM didn’t do anything to enhance the viabilty of the turtle farm and it did lose money due to their miss management. Could it be that they wanted it to look as bad as possibel due to Mr.Bush being intrumental in getting it built?

     

    Fact 3. If anyone follows the history of Mr.Bush over the years he has always supported and been a strong advocate for Education. as he has said many times publicly to anyone that listen to him, he wants the Caymanian kids to have the best educational opportunites that he didnt have. Under his adminsitration 2001-2005, schools were enhanced, education programmes were put in place, which would have adressed the medium and long terms educational needs of the Caymanian youth. A workable school facility was built for less than $12M, that showed care and prudent management, two qualities that the PPM dont have.

     

    Plans were also put in place for 2 new schools( the same schools that are now been built for $150M), in no way were those plans made to put the country in the detrimental economic situation that we now find ourselves. The sad fact is that Alden and Kurt were poor managers and dont have the management skills, foresight, and leadership abilites that Mr.Bush has. These are the very reasons why the people voted overwhleminly to remove the PPM.

     

    Mr.Bush seems to have a much better grasp of fiscal issues and understands that in order to grow an economy you must create an environment which is condusive to attract new business while at the same time allow exisiting businesses to be successful. It does not matter what Alden says, it seems that Mr.Bush from what he says understands economics that you cant fund capital projects through reccurrent  revenues, especially when the revenue base is declining and there are no plans in place to increase revenues only to spend.

    For him to say now that they didnt know that this crisis was eminent clearly shows that they have no understanding of the issues and dont listen to anyone. The very Mr. Bush that is now blaming and asked them to rework their programme, Mr. TIbbetts now infamous answer was " not on the kindest of mornings would they listen". This is type arrogance and downright stupidity is why the Cayman Islands is in a miss now.

     

    The entire PPM and anyone sympathetic to their policies, are simple not being honest if they dont understand the above which sets out facts that have been repeated over and over in the country. Alden should stop if he doesnt understand economics and should also stop trying to malign Mr.Bush by making it appear that Mr.Bush doesnt care about Caymanian people. Anyone that reads facts can see that Mr.Bush’s track record for caring for people is well documented, and cannot be disputed my either the PPM or Alden.

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL! You’ve got nerve, I ‘ll give you that! You are in the same breath blasting the PPM for their excesses while defending the Boatswain’s Beach development and blaming the PPM for it being a loss-making venture. Dang, you’re good!  

      Dude, Boatswain’s Beach was ill-conceived from the get go. The auditor general found that it grossly squandered public funds. At $62m construction cost it was never going to pay for itself let alone turn a profit. Cruise ship tourists are simply not going to pay the extortionate admission price that would make it viable. You can try hang that rope around Mr Cifford’s neck all you like but it won’t work.

      The fact that Mr. Bush chose to make this his priority rather than the essential infrastructure (although the UDP recognized the need at the time by talking about plans but failing to act) means that they had to be built under a subsequent govt. at a much higher price. Since the UDP now claims that they could have built the high schools for $20m each this is only shows what a travesty it was to build the non-essential Boastwain Beach for $62m when he could have built three high schools instead and still have money to maintain them! This does not show any "management skills, foresight, and leadership abilities" on the part of Mr. Bush whatsoever.  The whole notion that the UDP is the party of fiscal prudence is a joke given the track record of Mr. Bush.He is doing now what he has always done – lurch around with the ill-digested ideas fed to him by the self-interested. Each week there an announcement of a new, equally unworkable idea.  Rash statements damaging to the country are made then belatedly he recognizes (or perhaps is advised) of the blunder.  Apparently this is intended to give the impression of proactivity but instead it gives the impression of confusion and lack of leadership.

      As for caring for people, if you do not fall into one of the following categories, not necessarily in that order, you can forget it about (1) an ardent political supporter or from whom he hopes to gain a vote; (2) a wealthy developer from whom he hopes to benefit; and (3) McKeeva Bush, which is in any event, the sum of the first two.      

  3. Roy Tatum says:

     The goal of the former PPM administration as I understood it was not just to have 21st century schools that also served  as district centers, district sporting facilities and as a hurricane shelter.– it also included:

    (a)  annual education planning conferences with the stakeholders;

    (b) a new up to date Education Law;

    (c) a new education Governance model that allowed for more autonomy for schools;

    (d) a definition of an educated Caymanian that set the goal of the expected outcome;

    (e) increased number of specialist teachers to help ensure that kids with  learning challenges etc were identified early and helped;

    (f) building a new trade school at the old high school site;

    (g) adding an extra school year which could be used for A levels; at UCCI;  or learning a trade.

     

    Finally in the PPM we had a Government who was willing to shake things up and actually do more than mere talk and ground breaking regards new high schools and about education generally. 

     

    Finally in the PPM we had a Government willing to admit that we had been failing the majority of our children educationally for a long time – and the results of that failure can be seen in today’s newspaper headlines.   Could these facilities that serve as  21st century schools; community buildings; sports facilities; hurricane shelters etc – be built for less?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  But I do know that all of the above are needed.  The increased brutal crime in society is an indication of the need and the long neglect.  

     

    A bit of recent history: Post 2000 elections, Mr. Roy Bodden, then part of a Kurt Tibbetts lead Government, stated that a New High School was needed in Frank Sound.  In fact I believe this need had been recognised for many many years.  The Net News reported in December 2000 that:

     

    << Calling it one of his "missions" which he will see to completion, the Minister — himself a former teacher in East End– said that he was well aware of how the lack of a high school for those districts affects children who have to get up early to travel to school, and the toll it takes on traffic conditions on the roads.

    Speaking last Thursday, 7th December at his first press conference since taking over the portfolio of education, human resources and culture, Mr. Bodden told reporters that the government was prepared to give its full backing to the establishment of the school. >>

     

    Of course in 2001 the coup occurred and in my opinion Mr Bodden did not have sufficient support in a Mac run Government to get his new school going.   Of course we will hear how the country was impacted by the 911 terrorist attack and we had to take care with the countries finances. So schools and infrastructure was ignored again. Yet we had the money – millions in fact – to build the turtle farm monument; fund overseas offices; and per the Auditor general – to possibly waste on several Government projects. 

     

     Fortunately the PPM Government did start the needed school in Frank sound along with other infrastructure needs.  If they built monuments it was monuments that served the future of the country and our people.  They built schools and roads and a new Admin building to replace the Glass House that we were told was a danger to work in and was costing the country millions in wasted energy costs and lack of space.

     

    In 2003 during the budget session the Mac government included in their plans for education the following:

     

    <<…. three new schools are planned: a high school at Frank Sound and new primary schools at Spotts and West Bay. In addition, new temporary classrooms will be provided at George HicksHigh School and the Bodden Town Primary School >>

     

    Of course we know that the Spotts Primary School was built but no new West Bay Primary school nor the Frank Sound school.   So West bay went without again (except for the money pit turtle farm) as did the Eastern Districts.  Of course we know that the Spotts Primary School was built, but was too small and that a larger facility was actually needed. Hence a mere 5 or so years after completion this school is overcrowded.

     

    Fast forward to just prior to the 2005 elections and we now see the UDP groundbreaking for a new high school at Frank Sound and I believe West Bay.   Returning to the Net News, the following was reported:

     

    << Mr. Bodden said that the new school is part of an overall plan to establish ‘state-of-the-art’ schools in George Town and West Bay in addition to the one at Frank Sound.

     

    Referring to the groundbreaking ceremony he said: “We are a part of history, but I remind you that this is just the beginning; we will need to find the money not just to build this school, but also to build the proposed High School in West Bay as well.”

     

    It is envisioned that the new school will be thoroughly up-to-date, featuring interactive electronic whiteboards instead of old-fashioned blackboards, and may also feature a prestigious 5,000-seater auditorium, which will be used as a theatre or for conferences. 

      

    Please note the ideas for state of the art schools that included an amphitheatre. Please note reference to a school in West Bay & George Town as well as Frank Sound.  Please note the comments regarding needing to find the money to build the schools. 

     

     I believe that Mr. Bodden did want to build the schools that he saw as badly needed but, again my view, he did not have the support that he needed from a Mac run government.  Mac cannot understand that students do not learn well when they are herded into substandard temporary classrooms that somehow become permanent. 

     

    Fast forward to 2009 and Mac is again LOGB.  He is dusting off his old 2002 playbook and is being driven around; attacking the media; making pronouncements before thinking; opening offices in the middle east; talking about moving the airport and dock; and so on.  Hopefully his new Government will hesitate before dismantling the education reforms started under the PPM. 

     

    We shall see what happens. I hope that I am wrong – but Macs track record on supporting education is pretty dismal. 

     

    The PPM Government were not perfect – they made mistakes like every Government has. But they were right to stop making excuses for not doing the things that the country badly needed and needed now.  It is unfortunate that they had to find the money to repair Government assets post Ivan because there was an insurance shortfall.  It is unfortunate that they had to fund Macs turtle farm sink hole.  It is unfortunate that the money wasting SPIT investigation happened.   And it is unfortunate that a world recession overtook them – if it did not and the financial secretary’s revenue projections for this year had held true, then we would be singing a different song today.  

     

    History will prove the PPM Administration right. Of that I am certain. If you think otherwise just pay attention to the headlines in the papers these days to see the results of past neglect.  

  4. Dred says:

    Alden I see what you guys were trying to do and I don’t think you had any evil intentions. My thing is I just don’t think you balanced the times we were going into with the amount of output you were about to do.

    I believe what yuo were doing was right but maybe not at the right time. We probably could have lasted another year or two on what we had to see this storm out first and then run at this. I knwo it would have cost more but look at where our backs are now.

    Really it comes down to needs and wants. Did we absolutely need it and now? The answer is really NO. We do need it but NOW right NOW no. We could have lasted. We do surely want it. I can tell you with 100% certainty this 1 fact and I believe 80% plus of Cayman would agree. If we could have done this and ended up with surplus at year end everyone would be patting you on the shoulders and the whole PPM would be back in in a landslide but we got caught with our hands in the cookie jar.

    So I don’t blame youfor saying we should do this. I take position up on when this was to be done.

    While I don’t think PPM did as bad a job as everyone is making them out to have done I believe their timing was off and the had the unfortunate burden of a recession to help further muddy the water.

    What you can say about PPM is that while they have made untimely decisions there isn’t the outcry of theft or other unsavory things such as status grants being screamed. UDP while very proactive brings their own set of baggage to the table.

    But right now I don’t sit on either side of the table because I feel that Big Mac maybe the person we need in now as he is very proactive and won’t sit on things and think them to death. This is a time to act and act swiftly which I am sad to say is not PPM strong suit.

    So Big Mac lead us to the promise land and please don’t do TOO MANY under handed stuff along the way.

  5. fisherman says:

    Sir turtle you loggerhead lunatic, please don’t tell me that the PPM places more emphasis on people than the UDP, you need to stop smoking that SEAWEED……..the only thing PPM did for the Cayman people was to cause POVERTY, PAIN and MISERY, go get a life….. better yet,why don’t you go back to sea and join the rest of your loggerhead friends…lmao!

  6. Anonymous says:

    This government is doing the same as the PPM. In the Brac there was supposed to be an existing staff member of the Port Authority transfered here to run the dock – now there is talkthat this is not going to happen because of political interferance and another person who RETIRED from Government many many years ago and have moved back home to the Brac is going to get the job . Why are we hiring another civil servant (and an old one at that way past 60 years) to fill a position that can be filled by transferring someone from Grand Cayman. Answers anyone.

  7. SIR TURTLE says:

    SIR TURTLE declares:

     

    UDP emphasize the ECONOMY

    PPM emphasize our Children’s EDUCATION

    UDP emphasize IMMEDIATE FOOD ON OUR TABLES

    PPM emphasize THE FUTURE OF OVERPOPULATION

    UDP more on PROFIT

    PPM more on PEOPLE

     

    Ever heard the saying:  The way to hell is paved with good intentions…

     

     

  8. Anonymous says:

    What the Hell are you talking about Mr Mclaughlin?

    Following a meeting at the George Hicks campus, the CICSA began collating viable ideas from the rank and file to present to government, not just about spending cuts, but about raising revenue as well. In his letter to Franz Manderson on 28 August, Watler outlines two areas that his organisation sees as a potential source of immediate cash for government. Firstly, he notes the failure to collect fees owed and that government should take immediate action on uncollected and outstanding revenue. Secondly, Watler noted the low level of many government fees and suggested the time had come to put some of them up.

    This is the biggest piece of hogwash I have ever heard. Alden is admitting that one of the reasons why we are in this mess is because the civil servants that he represented were not collecting fees due to Government? Alden…… tell the do nothing civil servants to get offtheir a**es and do the job that they are being paid to do ….. collect the taxes that are in the law. Who is this "PPM Opposition" that you are talking to anyway? It is the members of YOUR UNION that needs to collect taxes ….. not some phantom.

    And what is your solution??? Tell Government to put these taxes up higher on the people so that the members of your civil service can continue to sit around and not collect them once again?

    The way for the UDP Government to save money on this exersied in the long run is for you to stop obstructing the necessary changes that need to take place.

    The civil service MUST be shrunk by eliminating the multiple department heads that do the same job for every portifilio seperately and to centralise these high paying accounting costs back into central government. And yes Mr. Mclauglin….. it does mean fireing those high paying expats and  accountants that you and your opposition so rabidly defend like some kind of knights in shining armor. It does mean also getting rid of some of those high paying Expats top jobs that are being filled with seat warmers. Replace them with ambitious young Caymanians who will actually work to collect some of the uncollected taxes that you lament about.

    My problem with the opposition you represent suggesting this is twofold. One, the overpaid expats in Government, by your own admission do not have the ambition to collect taxes that they are already being paid to collect. Two you should stick to suggestions that are real cost savings within your own organisation and leave suggestions that impact the private sector to the private sector.

    You sir should do your part and stick to meaningful suggestions that will result in real cost savings from the civil service.

    Please Sir Mclauglin tell them(UDP goverment) to start downsizing the civil services.Don’t renew expats contracts unless is look at carefully by the chief Officer in there ministries(Without any political favors).This option alone will save the goverment about 30 million and replace them(contract officers) with ambitious young caymanians who will actually work.Unemployment rate will go down fast.Please help caymanians

  9. Anonymous says:

    Arrogance!  This seems to be the resounding opinion from most of the population concerning the PPM.  The screwed up the country and all they have to say is that it’s other people’s fault, or they were unaware, or only God could stop them.  Well, He did stop you and we the citizens thank Him for that or who knows where we would have ended up. We did not need so many projects all at the same time. Everyone wants good education for our children but if the country is broke and people are getting laid off then no luxurious school would make up for starving at home! If I overextended myself in my personal life and suddenly lost my job, I would be in the same situation that this country is in now.  Any idiot could see that except stupid arrogants who thought they knew it all.  They should resign and let other more capable people collect their fat paychecks. 

    • Anonymous says:

      "They should resign and let other more capable people collect their fat paychecks. "

       

      Who? You in your infinite wisdom? Keyboard warrior?

      Hindsight is always 20/20. Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one and most stink!

      Now go back to doing nothing on someone else’s dime and complain about how useless everyone is.

    • Anon says:

      Persons that keep on saying that the economic problems are due to the recent capital works must just not be listening or understanding.

      What you should be asking is WHY? Why was it that our infrastructure was in such a neglected state? What happened in the last 15 to 25 years? Why were multiple projects required?

      For example, I happen to know that our Education Officials were told in the early 80’s, by consultants that they hired, that a second high school was needed then. They were even given the best location – Frank Sound. So why do we get a Government coming into office in 2005 having to attempt to build 3 schools/comunity centres/hurricane shelters? In all of those years, was there no elected official who considered education important enough to build even one high school with expansion capability? In 2005, there should only have been a need for maybe one school, or the expansion of those all ready built. Not to mention that a new Govt. Admin. building has been talked about for well over 10 years with no action.

      Instead we had many years of bragging about surpluses and pretty projects that did not really advance our country & people, but created large operational expenses.

      That is why we have an operational deficit. Certainly not because of arrogance.

      If successive Govt’s do noting to keep up with the demands of our increasing population then there will always come a point when someone has to do it and usually not at the best time. They are simply forced to or the whole system grinds to a halt. Imagine our traffic today with out the new/entended/improved roads.

      I hope successive Govt’s, andour people, now see the fallacy of this short term thinking. A lot of the recent projects should have already been completed and paid for during the "surplus" years.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am tired of reading negative crap from those uneducated UDP supporters and I am not a supporter of either party.  Anybody that has taken walks around the John Gray High School, should have seen the mass deteriotion of the school and after the status grants the situation has worsened.  Classes were being held in trailers and most of the children were not eating at lunch time, because the food lines would take almost all their lunch hour for them to get a meal.  The schools are urgently needed and yes with all the amenities.  The amenities would also accomodate the disaster shelters, so Alden was looking beyond the 5 years like the Prospect school.  He was hoping for those schools to last another 30-40 years.  The new Admin. building would eventually cut those rental costs that McKeeva are currently Propagandering(???) about now.  McKeeva needs to stop putting blame on PPM for everything, he has been in 5 months now and has done nothing but point fingers.  When will he stand up and take blame for his actions, the money wasted on Boatswaine Beach, the overpaid properties in West Bay, the spoonge bob airline disaster with Cayman Airways, the Ritz and the Dart concessions and many more disasterous deals he has made like the status grants. The school projects must go on and the children must be put first or we will become the laughing stock of the Caribbean.

    • Anonymous says:

      Funny how the PPM call UDP supporters uneducated.  Arrogance may as well be stupidity.  It was the PPM who left the country in such a bad state no matter how they want to dance around it.  All they always come back with is the status grants against McKeeva, but remember the PPM nominated a lot of their cronies for it too and got them status. They just conveniently forget to mention it.  Caymanians need to remember that we all came from somewhere else too regardless if it was generations ago or not. Look into your ancestry lineage and you will see that unless you are a turtle or iguana you are not originally from here either so stop going on about status grants! You just choose to forget it at your convenience.

      • Anon says:

        Rubbish. The PPM MLA’s (opposition at the time) nominated no one for the unvetted Cabinet status grants. If you are so positive that they did, then name the person(s) & who nominated them. The then opposition exposed the injustice. Do you think they would have done that if they had nominated persons?

    • da wa ya get says:

      Agreed!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Alden, despite what those critics are saying now, I have and will continue to support your foresight in building those schools and the Hurricane shelters.  Those schools and the new Eucation Commission are all more importantant and needed right now, than the Cruise Ship Finger Piers, the Casinos, the New Airport, Boatswaine Beach and the Mega Yatch Docks.  Look around us Mr. LOGB and observe what is happening right here now in Cayman. The Drugs, the lost Youths, the shootings, the Corruption, the robberies, the hatred, the discrimination of your people. The International reprecussions we are facing from a leader with a Big Mouth.  Is this really what we want of our future leaders?  We need to put Education in the forefront, we need the resources, the buildings, the Teachers, the atmosphere, the guidance for both parents and children, the Technical Schools, we need education and Alden you are the leader of Education and do not let any of these critics change your views or your drive to accomplish.  We just hope Rolston will soon wake up and follow your example, as we see now he is a follower and not a leader.  Cayman Government please put all differences aside and consider your children and the future of Cayman.  Please give them the best resources to become comfortable in an evironment and retain an education, so that they can compete with the rest of the world.  Take Politics out of Education and complete the projects now!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Alden,

      "…despite what those critics are saying now,"  – this poster must be in love to follow so blindly – as for me – i would Alden to pay back some of the money he wasted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm

       

      To the above Anonymous about supporting Alden – you said,

      "Those schools and the new Eucation Commission are all more importantant and needed right now, than the Cruise Ship Finger Piers, the Casinos, the New Airport, Boatswaine Beach and the Mega Yatch Docks.  Look around us Mr. LOGB and observe what is happening right here now in Cayman."

      I must laugh out loud, do you really believe infrastructure and schools in these hard economic times, is what Cayman need NOW?!

      Cruise Ship Finger Piers, the Casinos, the New Airport, Boatswaine Beach and the Mega Yatch Docks, will PUMP INTO THE COUNTRY REVENUE, MONIES SO WE CAN BUILD MORE INFRASTRUCTURES and be FINANCIALLY SECURED

      I still hold that the PPM did TOO MUCH and lack the foresight to see that the World’s economic crisis would greatly effect Cayman. May I saw because of BOTH UDP and PPM, we are in this mess! But I point the finger more at the PPM and their projects. They could have just done roads and focused more on Tourism and bringing in revenue into the country.

      Oh please, Alden!

      Everyone knows Education is important. But put food on our tables to feed our children is more important than education – don’t you think???

      Please…. spare me the rhetoric 

       

    • da wa ya get says:

      This is exactly how I feel!

  12. A lil shorter please says:

    Dear Anon

    Please stop posting stories – they already have the story for us to read. Post comments. GOSH!

    • Anon says:

      I am sorry if it took a little more than you could handle reading-wise to get my point across.  I tried to pare it down as much as possible while maintianing a need to get some points across.  Comments can often reveal more than the story, and I apologise if you did not get an alternate point of view from my admitedly lengthy response.

      But as a concerned Caymanian, I had a few things I had to say.

      I am tired of the PPM v UDP bashing.  No, the UDP did not cause WWII, the PPM is not responsible for the spread of AIDS and the Independants are not the source of the current H1N1 Flu. 

      Focus on the problems, see what is really at hand, and work together to solve them.

      It is for the good of all who really care!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    It is time that the former Minister accepts that he made a mistake and move on. We cannot build a brighter future through irresponsible fiscal management. In addition, our future will be brighter when our leaders accept that they err and are bold enough to correct those errors and make every effort to improve. After all, that is what we need to teach our children by example. A failure to consider these things will hurt much more than the education of the nation.      

    The former Minister spoke about "the best possible learning environment the country could afford".  The argument now is that the country could NOT afford it and that is why we are having this discussion.  The best of anything is relative to other factors such as location, culture and economics.  What is best for one may not necessarily be best for all, considering all factors. The simple truth is that these buildings may NOT be completed because of lack of funding. It is good to have vision, but if you cast a blind eye to reality, that vision may not be realized. In any case, the realization of any vision is a culmination of small pockets of sight along the way. 
     
    Why is there such an over exaggeration on this 36% pass rate over 27% last year? What kind of research was done to correlate this increase to the transformation carried out by the former government? Could this be attributed to other factors? Other interventions? 
     
    The former Minister said, “I just hope that the functionality of it is not compromised so they don’t deliver what they should” (referring to the new schools). Is this a prelude to blaming the new government for making adjustments just in case the “state-of-the-art” schools don’t achieve what they were intended to?
     
    I hope that the country can get to the heart of the matter before it is too late! At least there is one person who in my opinion brings hope to education. She has been through the system as a student, teacher, head of department, inspector, deputy chief officer; I refer to the new Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education.  What the Ministry of Education needs now is not arrogance, but a deep understanding of the real issues in teaching and learning and a genuine and unselfish concern for a brighter future.
  14. Anon says:

    The fact is, Mr McLaughlin will continue to justify this huge error in judgement until the very end. 

    Sure, Cayman needs new schools.  And said schools need to accomodate the growth of the future.  But the schools do NOT have to be pieces of art themselves.  I am not saying the new schools needed to be "boxes", but anyone with any design or building experience can tell at a glance that the designs employed here are overkill and extremely expensive.

    Further, the financing of these projects are based on the growth of the Cayman Islands over the past years.  Any financier will tell you, past performance is not indicative of future results.  Noone in their right mind could expect Cayman to continue its financial and physical growth of the past few years.  Indeed, reading much of the ex-pat bashing, it would appear a significant vocal minority want it to go the other way.  This alone calls into question the ability to service the debt burden, even more so in the face of the WORLDWIDE recession. 

    Sadly, one of the most telling arguements is the one of the issue of equity.  Mr McLaughlin used this very same arguement in a conversation I had with him in the weeks leading up to the election.  He asked how he could explain to the kids in one district that another district would be getting a new school and they would not. 

    Well, it is called life, suck it up and make the most of what you are dealt. 

    We don’t all get what we want when we want it.  It is this mentality that has in large part, led to a lot of the attitudes that are prevalent in today’s Cayman life.  This attitude that we Caymanians should all get what we want does not only come across as spoilt, but it spreads as we grow to expect to get a job, to expect to get a car, to expect to have it all.  And when it doesn’t happen, then blame somone else.

    There are a number of ways of addressing a staggered approach to building the schools.  And a number of different positive results that could have come from it too.

    Say the Frank Sound school was built first.  They would have quality labs, music facilities, etc.  Great.

    Firstly, as these are government schools, the students from other schools could come in on a rotating basis to utilise the facilities.  Sure it means a little logisitical planning, but it could work.  All the facilities will not be in use all the time. 

    And if that doesn’t work, and a family feels they HAVE to have their kids having access to that schools facilities, then, and this is not going to be a popular suggestion – move.  That’s right, move to the district where you want your kids to go to school.  While this may be an alien concept to Cayman, in the US and many other places in the world, people pay a premium to live in a district in order to be in that district’s school system.

    Realtors actually trumpet that a property is in an attractive school district and it is often a major force in a family’s decision to buy a home.

    Think about the ramifications of that.  If the first school up was the one in Frank Sound, it might actually lead to a small migration of the population out of the congested Western districts to be near the school.  The demand of having a greater population base will lead to the creation of facilities to service them.  Savannah had only the Tall Tree grocery shop for a great many years, but as the population in that district and on out to the east grew, developers took note, and now there are supermarkets, hardware and home stores and so on.

    And if more people had facilities closer to home, the need to trek into George Town would be reduced – and with it, the need for other infrastructure – such as the new roads. 

    I am not saying the new road east-west artery was wrong.  Far from it.  It was right to improve the roads in general nearly two decades ago when the MGTP (Master Ground Transportation Plan) looked at our infrastructure, our growth and the future projections, and called for a major overhaul.  Back then, the idea was shelved and the issue ignored until it became a breaking point. 

    I notice that Mr McLaughlin doesn’t speak to the fact that there is a clear inequity in the roads system – he seems to have no problem stopping the bypasses in Savannah and Governor’s Harbour – surely by his arguement of equity for all, the road system should have been tackled as a whole and completed.

    But let’s face it, a series of new schools is far prettier than a roadway system.  And the arguements are really just self justifications.

    Without a doubt, tackling all the schools at once was a mistake.  And a person who can admit their mistakes is far better than one who tries to justify their way out of them.

    The mistake has been made.  It is not practical to cease construction at this point.  Instead, someone should be carefully looking to see where savings can be made on the parts still left to complete.  Can some buildings be postponed?  Can some equipment purchases be held off for a while?  Can less expensive fitting and fixtures be used in place of originally specified ones?

    If half the energy that is spent bashing the expats, the PPM, the UDP and so on, was put into coming up with solutions to the problems that the islands face today and over the next few years, one would be amazed at the progress that could come about.

    It is time to pack up the egos, recognise the errors that BOTH parties have made in the past, and for everyone to work together to do their part to guide the good ship Cayman through the heavy seas ahead.  We have not seen the worst of the financial crisis here.  There are going to have to be some major changes in our attitudes.  It will be tough.

    Now more than ever the entire Cayman population (Caymanians and expats alike) will have to realise that life really is hard – we won’t get everything we want – and we should be happy with what we do have.

    And if we all work together, we will get alot further alot faster.

    • Anonymous says:

      You make some good points, I hope people listen to you.  While I don’t think the premise of the schools as a mistake, perhaps (as you suggest) building them all at one time, expecting revenue to never decline was a mistake.

      I don’t know (nor care) if you are expat or Caymanian, but you have a well written statement here, that I hope all aspire to in putting forth their thoughts without trying to pull any party politics.

    • - says:

      I have only two points:
      First – You only need to be one of the parents who has no option but to send their child to the battle grounnd that has become John Gray High School to understand how desperately our children need new schools and a worthwhile education system. While in hindsight I recognise that the three projects were somewhat ambitious given the recession; as a parent of a JGHS student, I applaud Mr. McLaughlin for taking the initiative to address this issue with the passion and that he did. He gains nothing personally from offering OUR Caymananian children worthwhile schools and a modern eductaion structure. In fact we are the ones who will gain from what he had attempted to do. For those of you who can’t see what is to be gained; we all gain at least the hope that our childen will be afforded the best education possible therebyopening them up to better opportunities, with the simple hope that one day they will be the CEO’s and directors of the big companies that exist here; positions that are currently out of the reach of Caymanians (fo whatever reasons).

      Secondly; I recognise the difficult situation that our islands are in but I do not agree that it was solely the fault of the PPM. I believe that these problems were a long time coming and have aisen from a lack of foresight on all govts that have held office over the last two decades. We were all so content when the islands were flourishing that it seems no-one stopped to consider the fact that, that progress would ever cease. I hoped that if nothing else, we would have learned from Ivan how quickly things can change. You can be on top of the world one day and in the ditches the next if you do not use those good fortunes sensibly. So enough with the mudslinging, the blame games and the rhetoric. It doesn’t matter so much who did it now as it does “how are we gonna fix it”. Both the PPM and the UPD campaigned studiously for this job. The people have spoken and the UDP were successful. So as a Caymanian, I say to the UPD this is the job you wanted; now you’ve gotten it – PLEASE PLEASE! just get on with it. The next election is 3 1//2 years away – so both the UDP and PPM will have plenty of time then to campaign on how badly the other has/had performed

      • Anon says:

        Very good points.  And you will note, I was not objecting to needing new schols – far from it.  I was objecting to taking them all on at once.  Furthermore, like the MGTP that was ignored and then a knee-jerk reaction was when the you-know-what hit the fan, we had to pour a ton of money into new roads.  Same with the schools – things are now so bad we have decided to open the spending floodgates and build them all at once.

        I was merelycalling for moderation and living within our budgetary means.  Plan and stick to it.  Build in stages.  NOT everyone needs it all at once.  We Caymanians have become a nation that EXPECTS to get it all.

        Secondly, I also mentioned BOTH parties mistakes.  Personally, I voted PPM and independant – probably surprised you there since I was clearly pointing out PPM errors of ways.  BUT, again, I was saying we ALL need to accept our mistakes.

        We need a good education system, we need good roads, we need a safe environment in which to live. We need a lot of things. We cannot have them all at once – what we need most is a clear plan that is worked out bilaterally and that stretchesbeyond the current administration – whoever they are. 

        No more dismantling the previousadmins work just because you can.  Work on a solution together.  Agre to disagree at times.  And TRULLYwork for the benefit of Cayman and all who live here.

        Not just now – but for the future too.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The capital costs on McKeeva’s Boatswain’s Beach was $62M…..and the PPM government had to pump another $27M into it over the past 4 years to keep it operational.

    So you all praising McKeeva because he thinks more of his turtles than he does of your children…..what a bunch of idiots….is it any wonder that Cayman has so many McKeevas running around causing problems because of a lack of education and intellect.

    So you all say no problem with spending $89M on the turtles but lets school our children under the mango tree because thats where "we" were schooled and look at how good "fool" we turned out.

    Thank you PPM for putting our children first !!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      AMEN!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Pointing the finger back at McKeeva Bush doesn’t answer the issue at hand. The blatant overspending on unnecessarily expensive schools all brought on line at once. Common sense would dictate prudence in this matter and it is a grave concern that this former Educational Minister even now refuses to see the error of his ways which leaves the door open for a repeat performance.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am always amzed by thos self proclaimed experts who always have better ways of builidng a school or building a hospital or any government building. Why have they not had any success building for themselves?

  17. Anonymous says:

    WHY PEOPLE DONT TALK ABOUT THE SPENDING MCKEEVA DID ON THE TURTLE FARM U ALL BASHING ALDEN FOR DOING SOMETHING GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN,MCKEEVA SPENT 62 MILLION ON A SCHOOL FOR THE TURTLES.SO WHAT IS ALL THE TALK ABOUT?

    CNS: Thanks for contributing. Next time, could you not leave the caps lock on, please?

    • Anonymous says:

      perhaps some of the posters on this site could make use of the new schools, go back to school and actually learn something to contribute positive constructive ideas instead of getting up in arms about things that they have no idea about and talking foolishness

    • Anonymous says:

      Forgive them CNS, these PPM supporters no not what they do!

      They support arrogance, wasteful spending (that everyone is paying for – and will pay for even more soon), and use caps – disgusting!

      • da wa ya get says:

        …and you "know" not what you do.

        Obviously you could have benefited from Alden’s vision.

         

  18. Anonymous says:

    Too many peole think that Alden is an idiot, but maybe the fact is he can see things that others can’t see.  I was at first critical of the schools because of the cost, and extras (such as an expensive kitchen).  But in talking with people who went through Ivan, I now understand WHY a kitchen of that size might be needed.  This wasn’t about the students, but about planning for other disasters as well.

    Besides, the costs of the schools are small potatoes versus B Beach and other items put forth by the UDP.  Didn’t McKeeva get thrown out of office before?  Ironic he is not back in office isn’t it…no where else in the world (civilized world that is) can you get thrown out of office and allowed back in. 

    Stop blaming because PPM didn’t pay for your dinner, pay for it yourself!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed

      Alden, can’t see what we see (the debt, the phased approach etcetera);

      But, may he can see what we don’t see (how the poor people in this country benefits from his arrogance).

    • SIR TURTLE says:

      CORRECTION:  IT WAS KURT TIBBETTS WHO WAS OUSTED BY MCKEEVA, AND THEN GOT RE-ELECTED

  19. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the need to build modern schools to hold the vastly growing population of Caymanian children from single parent families.

    But do they really need to spend so much on luxuries. No point spending millions on restaurant quality kitchens when they’re going to serve fried chicken and burgers. Spend the money on books, materials etc to suport the learning to stop these children coming out of school with no qualifications and going on to become gangsters.

     

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why is it beyond this man’s conception to understand that less extravagant designs for a phased in school capital project program would have served the country’s needs so much better than the method that he employed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shameless

      Well if he won’t apologise for the Schools, at least apologise for the million dollar kitchens!

  21. anonymous says:

    My brother i second you on that one!

  22. Fed up with overspending and making us pay says:
    I certainly understand the need for the addition school building next the GHHS campus, but I do believe that the school on Frank Sound could have waited. Why put additional burden on the Governments funds when one school would have sufficed for now, yes I do think there will be a need for the Frank Sound school in a few more years, but we seem to be biting off more than we can chew…how many building are Government building right now:
     
    1. Frank Sound School
    2. The John Gray/GHHS addition
    3. DMV
    4. Boxing gym in the sports complex
    5. Government Admin Mansion
    ..I’m sure I am forgetting one, but you get the idea……way to many!
     
    This is a small Island, that is quickly loosing the small Island charm.
    • Any says:

      Have you seen that Frank Sound monster??? It’s huge,I would like to know how many young caymanians would be attending these schools.

      Does Alden not realize that it’s not the building but the quality of the teachers that matter??

  23. Anonymous says:

    Arrogance.

    That sums up my opinion on this man.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alden told the country that only God could stop him. Alden, God has spoken, repent, and ask for His Divine forgiveness for what you and your party has done to our beautiful Cayman Islands!

      Well said!! if there is one word that sums up Alden and the entire PPM, "arrogance" does it well!

      They still will not accept any responsibility for crippling this country!!

      NEVER AGAIN CAYMAN!!, NEVER AGAIN!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed; this man is without a doubt the most arrogant politician the Cayman Islands has ever seen. I hope the good people of George Townremember this and give him a good flogin the next election…

    • Anonymous says:

      If being committed to giving the young people of Cayman the best education possible is what makes a man arrogant then Alden is arrogant – and there is no one in the current government who is even remotely guilty of arrogance.