Problems in our schools

| 17/03/2014

Please allow me to air my concerns on a recent article entitled “Teachers in despair over kids”. As a Caymanian parent I have two boy children who have gone through our government schools. One graduated from John Gray High School and has been very successful, recently graduating with a Masters Degree. This particular child was well mannered and in the top 10% while attending, however, my main angst at the time was with the unfairness with which matters were treated.

No matter who the perpetrator was of any misbehavior, a child was not able to retaliate and if he/she did they were treated/punished the same. The victim didn’t have a voice. Unfairness seemed to be the theme.

The other boy went through Red Bay Primary School, and surprisingly he was bullied by his teacher more than he was bullied by his peers! He graduated from primary school in despair and rather despondent. He no longer wanted to attend school because he was treated so badly by this teacher. When I asked him why, didn’t he tell me about what was happening to him for two years. He said that he thought that that was the way school was suppose to be. He was afraid that if he told me that the teacher would react to him in class in a malicious manner, which happened before to him and he had also seen it happen to others in his class. In fact, it was another child who told his parent how badly the teacher was treating his friend, my son, and in turn I was told by the parent.

I decided afterwards to make a report of this issue to someone/anyone in the Education Department. I went up the chain of command only for “the buck” to passed on to another. The only person I did not speak with was the minister of education at that time, as I quickly realized that there was no recourse for me as a parent.

No one wanted to take responsibility. No one wanted to hear my concern.

So who is to blame for our current situation that is obviously no top secret? It is not just one person. Raising and schooling a child is a concerted effort and involves many people, as I see it.

First, it is me the parent. However, I can only teach my child what I know or what I have been taught. There are many parents who need a mentor themselves to understand how to raise a child. However, too often people do not know their own needs and do not know that they should ask for assistance, whether it be from another parent or from someone else in the community of proven standing.

Second, the teacher at school shares this responsibility also. The title: TEACHER says it all … we are all teachers – and we allteach by example. BOTH sides need the support and governance of the Education Department, or system, for this relationship to work.

Third, children learn from each other. If the home life is not one of stability, children are quicker to listen or follow their peers than the parent(s) … and they act out accordingly.

What is playing out in our schools is only a reflection of deeper problems within the fabric of a society which is the home.

We have no one to blame but ourselves: every parent and every Caymanian in our Education Department/system.

We need to stop pointing the finger, calling others racists and blaming “imported” children – truth is we are no better or no different … we just love to blame. Blaming gets us nowhere and when everyone else has left this Island, we still have our own stuff to deal with regarding our children and how they are treated and allowed by grownups to be bullied by grownups and peers.

So, as a Caymanian parent I ask the question, “Who within our government is taking responsibility for our mess in our schools?” It didn’t start today. It has been allowed to grow all these years … everything has a gestation period. Everyone here does affect the matrix of our society, however, we do need to make our “inner and outer” voices match – not say one thing and live another.

We are to blame for our own island’s demise.

Stand up and demand more from our government and from ourselves. I am not asking for a debate here or more finger pointing, but merely for introspection and proactivity of HOW to RESOLVE the obvious “elephant” in Cayman’s own living room.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    16:23  – yes, I know of an instance where a teacher was reprimanded, however, unjustly. It was a matter of a more senior teacher bullying her. Yes, this happens as well….management bullying staff. What a mess this system is. 

    We really must address the issue of senior management. Succession planning is fine, but please, plan to promote the capable. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Its a good thing they keep the children seperated.  Otherwise there could be a breakdown of the classes and then better job security could be lost.


  3. Roman Meal Bakery says:

    It is important to be realistic about the role of government schools.  These schools educate the children of the working class.  Only a small percentage of these children have the intellect and social skills to merit significant educational investment to assist career paths and social contribution.  Indeed in a nation without income tax the reasons to assist the education of the higher performing is less since their contribution in return will in due course be less, so Cayman is in a position to justify limiting resource allocation further than most.  For most children in the government system the imperative should be to educate them no more than necessary to function as low level administrators and, more importantly, to address endemic behavioral issues to ensure these people are not a burden on society.  Offering this bulk more than that is a waste of money and counter-productive.  This reality check would free up resources to focus on providing a better academic education for the small percentage who are high performers, thereby enhancing the prospects of social mobility.  There is no point in trying to educate everyone as if they can all go to the Ivy League.  Being honest about the educational performance bell curve for the children of the working class would result in much better allocation of revenues.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have read some demeaning and spiteful posts on this site ,but never before have I seen something as mean spirited as this diatribe.This is the type of thinking associated with  Adolf Hitler.Maybe you also support  moving "the working class" to reservations so that they do not contaminate the master race.Next I suppose will come the suggestion to sterilize "the working class" to prevent them from breeding anymore of the inferior class.                                      

      Unfortunately this type of post is one of the negatives of allowing anonymous posts.I am certain that the author of this post would never address this directly to an audience of "the working class" for fear of inciting a riot;yet under the cover of anonymity he is brave enough to post it here.                                                                                                       

      Written by a proud member of the working class, Lenard Whittaker.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Bakery you sir are an educated idiot.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why don't people send their children to the many excellent private schools?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, "Let them eat cake". smh.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or as a privately educated student would say "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"

        • UHUHUH says:

          To: 16:10. Here is a some good advice, don't boast about your private education, I attended locals school in the Cayman Islands and left here with a sixth grade education. But through persistence and determination I am now a graduate of one of the t most sought after schools of higher learning , and I speak five languages french being one of them. So I say to you! 

          Comme quelqu'un qui parle couramment  le Francais sugge`re.  Je dirias parfois c'est mieuz quand vous n'ouvrez pas la bouche!

          Translation: As someone who speaks french fluently, I suggest, sometimes it is better when you "don't" open your mouth!

          • Anonymous says:

            Well your grammar and punctuation are still at sixth grade level, so I hope English is not one of your five languages.  But come on, put your euro where your bouche is and tell us which "higghly sought after" establishment you attended.

            • Anonymous says:

              Tampa.  We never did get to find out the "highly sought after establishment", my guess is the University of Tampa.  Maybe even UCF.

          • Anonymous says:

            I always find it amusing when someone mentions they went to Private school there is always someone who hates they must comment. Frankly the only one boasting appears to be you, shame they did not teach you modesty when at one of the most sought after schools. I would advise you read the new testament and take in the meaning of humility.

          • Anonymous says:

            The problem is that while you may speak the language, you will almost lack the je ne sais quoi to mix with the BCBG.

          • Anonymous says:

            “mieuz?” – ca c’est vachement drole.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think you are over-reacting.  How much is a year's tuition?  It is only $25,000 or so?  It is not like it is a lot of money.

        • Anonymous says:

          23.39, you are obviously trying to wind people up..not everyone can afford $25,000. Having said that, investment in your children is the biggest and best investment you will ever make. If you can give them the ability to get out of the trap that others find themselves in, you will ensure their prosperity in future, and that of Cayman.

          I sadly also see too many neglected kids here, parents spending their money on flashly cars, booze, in fact anything other than the kid they presented to this planet (and that includes a basic such as food!). If you are not responsible enough to have a kid, do yourself and the rest of Cayman a favour, don't have one. All you are doing is ensuring an ongoing downard spiral in living standards, and some of you will eventually end up in jail for neglect of your child. At least I hope you do. No-one but yourselves to blame for that.

        • Anonymous says:

          More like $10k pa, still not cheap, most schools offer financial support, but then to take them up on that it would require someone to make the effort of applying and being interested in a child's education.

          • Anonymous says:

            Is that all is costs?  Just over $800 a month?  Gosh, if you can't afford that you should not have kids.

  5. Anonymous says:

    @17/03/2014 – 17:36. The teachers are protected by the Ministry. Have you heard of any teacher being disciplined for abusing/bullying children? And I know for a FACT it does happen. So who is there to stand up for teh parent and child who has been following the rules but have met up on an emotional terrorist who has nothing to worry about because our Minister, Chief Officer, and respective Principal will do NOTHING? Who do we go to then?

    MAYBE if teachers were less cuddled by the Ministry they would stop making a bad situation worse and do what they're paid to do and in areas they claimed to have expertise. How many counselors, reading specialists, specialist for this and that do you know simply call parents about the trouble they have created but have never done anything to fix it? If we are paying all these experts now and things are getting worse, shouldn't we start by eliminating those 'specialists"?


    • Anonymous says:

      Did your little Johnny get a detention and your a$$ is all bent ouf of shape as a result?  I'm sure your little Johnny did nothing wrong to deserve his punishment – it had to have been one of those bully teachers who have nothing better to do than to pick on little angels such as your Johnny.  You know, the Johnny that you expunged and set loose for the world to raise…  The one you couldn't have bothered to teach him any manners, behavior, or how to sit still for more than ten seconds.  Yes, the Johnny who demands 85% of the teacher's attention because of his poor behavior, the one who can't read or write because it's easier to let him play Playstation for hours on end, the Johnny who bullies and bothers all classmates and clowns around all day, the wanna-be-gangsta who acts like a hood and is disrespectful to any and all.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you aware that you have just described a number of the symptoms of ADD or ADHD which means that the child is in need of therapy and not the derision that you just displayed?..If you know of a child or children like this could you please try to get them some help instead of putting them down.Thank you.


        • Anonymous says:

          CNS,the reason for that approach is simply to clearly identify what particular comment I am responding to.Sometimes my comment may appear at the end of a number of replies or replies to replies, and a reader is not sure  to whom I am responding ,and thus my comment may lose relevance or clarity.Iam not sure what is so wrong with that ,but will bow to your demands.

          CNS: Some people use, for example, "To 16:04 …" which isn't so annoying.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wow, how right you are – you opened my eyes!  In fact, you made me realize that we all suffer from ADD or ADHD – some a lot, lot more than others.  It's just that it seems it's always those kids whose parents neglect them from the day that they're born (in favour of fun times) who always appear to suffer the most from ADD or ADHD – ever stop to think that there's a connection there?  Of course not, you'd rather just put a label on things and medicate it! 

  6. momma says:

    Truth is…..YOu, YOU, YOU is what you keep saying in your post!  It is quite obvious that you are defending teachers which is fine, but let it be known that quite a few times the "good" child is bullied by the teacher, because that child won't talk back, that child WILL complete assignments without an argument, the teacher is taking out anger on the innocent child, etc.  To accuse a mother of not talking to her children is absolutely rude!

    Do you know that MOST children don't tell their parents about their issues? (If they did, would teenage pregnancy be running rampid) It is not because they are not comfortable about it, they just don't want to talk about it.  Plain and simple every child is different.  The good kids get bullied by teachers and the bad kids get ignored because the teacher is SCARED!  You sort of proved that point in your post… come back and retaliate!

    I am from the US and we have the same exact problems, but for you to write that it is the children is not so true!  Did you always have good teachers?  I know I didn't.  The bad teacher is the same bad teacher that is teaching 20 years down the road. have you read recent stories about teachers.  Teachers need to be held more accountable.  It is not always the CHILDREN.

    It all starts at HOME.  The teacher didn't begin raising the children, the parents, or in quite a few cases, TEENAGE parents did(kids themselves).  The parents are the ones that start the whole process.  Kids are taught disrespect, it is a taught behavior.  Kids are taught racism/predjudice, it doesn't happen naturally.  Kids would never know there was a difference if it wasn't pointed out.  Children are a reflection of their upbringing and later in life, of their education.

    Cayman is on a quick decline.  It soon will be the Island no one visited because of the crime, the beaches being a mess, the government running the place is a disgrace, the kids AND adults are disrespectful…the list could go on and on.  Recently while visiting the quickly deteriorating Island, there were a bunch of kids on Northside.  I walked into a store and the kids started "yo, look at that piece" "yo, I want me some of that".  These kids were no more than 15 years old, being disrespectful and downright disgusting to me, a 45 year old woman.  Where did that come from?  HOME, not the teachers. It works both ways.  Could it be that teachers are being bullies because they fear what these children are doing?

    Instead of pointing fingers, work out the issues.  Start youth groups, have people be involved with their children, demand your government does more for the up and coming adults.  Require them to be in a sport or to join a homework club, or anything for that matter. Don't just blame, change what is happening.  

    Teachers are bullies as much as children are.  The problem here is that the kids are supposed to look up to teachers, but in reality teachers are teaching these kids to be bad, disrespectful, bullies.  Parents need to teach their children respect.  People say "bring back the strap"  The "strap" is unnecessary if a child is raised in a loving family that has morals and respect for others.

    Look at what is happening in the US with holding teachers accountable.  For many years they have NOT been held accountable and our children have suffered because of it. Teachers shouldn't be teachers if they don't want to work with children.  AND teachers should be held accountable.  Many children "pass" through school with a failing grade!


  7. Agree no help from Dept of Ed says:

    I agree with the writer.  There is no reason with only 6,000 students and 500 teachersthat parents cannot investigate any teacher issue!!!

    The problem is the politicians and the fat cats who reside in the education departments.  Sorry, but this political football has proven to to be a failure.  What we need now are experts who can swoop in, take charge, and make immediate fast changes to save our youth.

    This is a real crisis.  More important that road MOUs, dock building, and even crime.  If we fail this generation, we will pay for years to come!

    Dr. G Canada is our answer- let's ask him if he wants to SAVE a Nation?

    Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.

    Since 1990, Mr. Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children's Zone, which The New York Times Magazine called "one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time." In October 2005, Mr. Canada was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News and World Report.

    In 1997, the agency launched the Harlem Children's Zone Project, which targets a specific geographic area in Central Harlem with a comprehensive range of services. The Zone Project today covers 100 blocks and aims to serve over 10,000 children by 2011.

    The New York Times Magazine said the Zone Project "combines educational, social and medical services. It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood….The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through."

    The work of Mr. Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Their work has been featured on "60 Minutes," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "Nightline," "CBS This Morning," "The Charlie Rose Show," National Public Radio's "On Point," as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today and Newsday.

    • ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

      Here's the link to their website

      HCZ holds workshops to teach other likeminded people how to replicate their success by starting similar programs in their own communities.  I would suggest that the government sponsor some people to attend the workshop before the problem gets any worse.



      • Anonymous says:

        Now you know politicianswill jump at a chance for another trip to do research…pls don't encourage them

        • AnonymousThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

          The idea would be to send educators and community leaders not politicians.

    • anonymous says:

      Only 498 teachers now. Another two assaulted and left.

      • Anonymous says:

        Make that 497 teachers now. Another one left this past weekend! Too much to say ~ where does one begin? Sure enjoy reading all the threads, and some more than others.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My child has constantly pointed out that there is more bullying by the teachers than students in some classes.

    At the risk of being labeled the troublemaker, I make reports to the Principals but every time there is complete defence of the teacher and not one minute given to thought of possible misconduct by a teacher.

    Also, I have heard from students year after year that a certain teacher is very abusive to students, throws items at them in the class and calls names. I immediately told teh children t tell their parents. I was concerned when the students were from different years (a few having graduated or I met others as my son moved up the next grade.) In a private conversation I shared my concerns with this teacher and asked if I could help with even a reward system to help with his class. Sadly and understandably he got very upset and denied it all.

    I personally heard a Jamaican teacher tell students to get to their seats by calling them by an animal reference. If an English teacher had called a Jamaican student by that derogatory name all hell would break lose.

    Until we get serious about addressing the culture of teaching methods also prevalent in our classrooms this will continue.

    It is a FACT that majorty of teachers are now Jamaican; most of the children with behavioural problems (in schools and as young people being arrested/conviced of criminal behaviour) are mixed with Jamaican or Honduran parent/s. So unless we have a Minister and Chief Education Officer willing to take a hard look at negative cultural influences and or agendas,we'll continue this downward spiral…………..I have no doubts about this and it is not meant to be an unfair or racist comment, just merely extroplating from what I observed and noted over the past 15-20 years. 

    Please look at all factors.

    Personally I am tired of hearing that it's only problem of parents or socio-economic background of Caymanians that create the problems in our public schools. We also need to come out of denial about the impact of different nationalities because while there is good in everyone, we have to start addressing the trends, simply using influential variables, numbers and current situation of certain teachers. Their internal bias may override their ability to teach well and our students become subjects of unfair treatment.

    One parent asked me about seeking CCTV for classrooms and I agree to support that effort. If the majority of teachers continue to claim perfection and that only problems in schools are by a few Caymanians, let's see it and when action is take against the student/s and parents there will be even more transparency.



  9. Truth Is says:

    Let's not forget to talk about parents who bully teachers the minute the teacher points out little Johnny's negative behaviour etc.  Some parents come to attack the teachers physically or verbally with a thousand excuses and guess what 8 times out of 10 the same children that the teachers tried to help that were so adamantly defended by parents who were blind to their child's faults are the same children who are terrorizing children at the high schools. 

    I for one want a teacher for my child who is strict firm yet loving and honest enough to realize that the world is a tough place and much is expected of our children when they get older.  I pick my child up from school and i see a lot of spoiled brats who can talk to their parents any way they fee.  Some act all innocent in front of mommy and daddy and are cruel when the parents backs are turned. 

    Your story sounds hmmm…interesting.  Your kid must have been making good grades if his teacher was bullying him for two years and you didn't notice any changes.  Worst yet you must not have much time to talk to your kid if he was in such distress for two years and he didn't feel comfortable enough to confide in you about what was happening.  Perhaps you should spend time talking to your child and checking on him.  Remember a fisheman never believes his fish smells bad.

    Truth is teachers are helpless when it comes to behaviour problems that take place in school. In high school teachers are assaulted, insulted cursed out by students.  Try telling that kid to put away the cell-phone when you're trying to teach a lesson and see what happens..better yet try telling a kid to pull up his pants.  The language at high school, the attitude, the disreguard for authority, the fights…how are teachers supposed to teach in that sort of environment.  It is an infested compound and everyone is afraid to do anything about it. 

    I know when I was in school that strap kept many people out of Northward or at least the fear of it did.  Now they suspend them and they come back and curse out the teachers and damage their cars.  We dont hear about the horror stories but when we do we wonder if this is really Cayman.  Keep ignoring the problems at High School and watch what's going to happen in the next 5 to ten years.  You think your house alarm is going to deter them? They're coming to rob your perfect little neighbourhoods but you don't believe they should be dealt with firmly and held accountable for their disgusting behaviour.  You make excuses for them and expect them to change because the teacher shouldn't have talked hard to them and hurt their feelings. Children need to be taught what is expected of them and if my child's teacher has to raise her voice to get the point across then I welcome her to.  I choose that instead of me having to raise my voice during visitors hour at Northward.

    Middle school needs to be brought back for a start. John Gray needs to be bulldozed because it is a breeding ground for criminals.  Cayman needs to admit there is a problem there and stop trying to cover it up. Parents need to go spend a day at school so they can understand what teachers are up against. But it may be too late for that.  Watch the mass exodus of teachers that is on the horizon.  There's only so much a human being can take.


    • Anonymous says:

      Truth. I have no idea who you are. It does not matter. 

      I started to read and wonder if I would make it to the end of your post. I made it and I woke up. The truth hit me right in the face. I am not alone in what is the truth and I thank you for the truth.

      CNS. Please read over the post, take the route the poster suggested. Visit what is left of CIHS or John Gray. It should be condemed. We can continue to spend millions on new state of the art Lock up facilities that we deem to be unfit for humans that are 50/50 criminals and repeat offenders, but we are able to clasify this John Gray as worthy to be a teaching ground for our children?

      Please help us get the Truth out there. That SIFIC or whatever it is being called is a breeding ground for young criminals. It is a holding area. You have some good kids in there that are in fear just like the teachers. MLAs and Minister. take a tour. See it with you own eyes. Those fake human rights people with so much care and love for our adult criminals, but our children are not deserving to be proteced or teached in a safe and humane facilities.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is ridiculous to willy-nilly blame the parents. How do you know where the parents came from? Were they abused, intimidated or whatever and are dysfunctional? Where they products of a similar educational system? Just because you are perfect, it does not mean that everyone else is.


  11. Anonymous says:

    When I went to school in the US, we had a child care class and part of it was spending time with Primary School kids.  We were something like Big Brother/Big Sister.  Maybe we could implement something like that and then when they reach high school, they would have already had someone to be there for them and hopefully catch the warning signs before there are problems.  There are peer to peer counselling as well.  We need to fix the situation.Honestly, we are all to blame: teachers, parents, community, government.  We have all failed our children.  Now, we need to fix it and stop pointing fingers.

    • Anonymous says:



      "It takes a village to raise a child."


      We need to think about this and act positively in all we do.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you need a village to raise your child, you have no business having children.

        • Anonymous says:

          You have really missed the point.


          Parents are only one part of a child's experience; an important part, but not the only part.


          The wider community and culture also are important.

      • Anonymous says:

        It takes 99% of a village to raise a 1%er.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is Cayman. It takes a Helper, sometimes two, to raise a child.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe we can give them firearms training as well

  12. Anonymous says:

    I find that your example is the exception rather than the rule. A teacher bullying a child rather than the unruly behaviour of the children influencing others. The way I see it. The bullying could have been tough love and the teacher demanding more out of the child than a teacher who didn't care about  whether child did well or not. 

    A teacher in the exit interview wrote that the children were okay to begin in year 7. Well this sounds quite familiar. This sounds like prison. Prisoners that are very violent influence and rule the prison. The new comers have to find themselves a clan to protect themselves and survive. The prisoners that have been out there unfairly learn to adapt, develop new skills and become one of them. Do you understand the analogy? It means something has to give. Parents should back the teachers and the ministry should protect the teachers. The teachers are entitled to a sage working environment. How do you expect to have brilliant teachers when the basic need of safety is not available to them? How can students learn if they areconstantly in fear of the aggressive students? The focus is then on survival and not education and improving oneself.