Rivers: Schools won’t select

| 09/07/2014

(CNS): Following revelations on CNS Tuesday that Minister Tara Rivers is considering the privatization of the education system, as advocated by her campaign supporters in the Coalition for Cayman, she denied that this will result in a two tier system. She said it would not mean the marginalization of kids with special needs, learning difficulties or behaviour problems and that schools won’t be able to select students. However, it is not clear how government will prevent that inevitability. While Rivers accused CNS of “ignoring the facts and putting out speculative information”, she hasn’t explained how by moving to public–private partnerships in education that selection and segregation of local students won’t automatically follow.

While the premier, a former education minister, remained silent in the face of the minister’s undefined proposals as well as the damning advertorial in the local press posted by her political backers, Rivers said she was “taking a critical look at the education system” and announcements would be made once all plans are in place. The policy she is pursuing appears to be a radical departure from the premier’s and the Progressive’s position on equality in education.

Despite requesting comment from the country’s leader, Alden McLaughlin has still not responded to CNS questions.

Rivers, however, said yesterday that the privatization proposal is still under discussion within the ministry and government and that the “presumptions” pointed out by CNS about the problems commonly associated with these types of schools “erroneously speculated in the article” were premature. Rivers criticized the CNS article, which drew attention to the fact that the type of systems that the minister is considering adopting have been already been implemented across Britain and many have fallen far short of expectations.

While some schools have done well as a result of being able to select their pupils, others have failed and made poor schools even worse. In some case parents have fought long campaigns to prevent schools opting out of local authority control because of the inequities that have resulted in other academies. The pressures on schools remaining under government control in the UK have also become greater as they are forced to take kids rejected by the more elite academies, charter and grant-maintained semi-private schools that have emerged over the last decade, while juggling with constant budget cuts.

Nevertheless, Rivers has denied that any of these things will happen under her plans for public-private partnerships and board controlled schools here in Cayman.

“I refute the claims in the article about not accommodating students with special education needs, learning difficulties and behaviour problems, as well as the claims about the ability for schools to pick or choose students. Also, the claims about the selection criteria for students being based on examination passes, etc, as opposed to catchment areas are equally unfounded,” the minister said, but did not say how the schools would be able to define themselves without having their own selection criteria.

Although Rivers has been quick to deny concerns over selection and inequity regarding her proposals, she has not been so quick to defend her staff or teachers in the face of the significant criticism by her colleagues in the C4C, who have accused them of “empire building” and accused teachers of dumbing down.

The Coalition has also criticized the much lauded International Baccalaureate system and suggested that because education is free people don’t appreciate it. While the C4C is clearly pushing for an even broader privatization agenda, Rivers has not yet denied the possibility that fees may be introduced. 

CNS asked Rivers if she supports the position of C4C and their damning criticism but she has not responded to that request or other specific questions asking about the move towards public-private partnerships in government schools.

See related story on CNS: Minister plans school sell-off

See Viewpoint: Academies

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS, I am disappointed in your choice of photo.  As someone who works with persons with intellectual challenges I find your reference offensive.  You clearly have no idea how this 'label' impacts these inidviduals and their families.  How very unkind of you!

    CNS: Point taken.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What do you people expect Cayman is not a land of rocket scientists

    All of them left a long time ago


  3. Anon says:

    I posted this report by the Academies Commission elsewhere. Food for thought before we let our politicians rush into anything.


  4. Knot S Smart says:

    CNS – Where did you get that photo of me when I was a little boy – wearing my favourite cap?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I feel sorry for the birght kids getting dragged down by the thick ones.

  6. Anonymous says:

    High iq is distributed amongst all levels of Cayman society. The purpose of a government. supported charter school is to identify the cognitively blessed and to develop their potential, regardless of their race, class, family, or the like. Face the truth. One can only get 100 watts of light from a 100 Watt bulb, not from a 75, and certainly not from a 15. By definition, one half of Cayman children have below average intelligence. It is folly to retard the achievement of the brighter half by making them wait for the other half to catch up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not by definition.  Let's say you have 100 children and 99 of them have an IQ of 85 and 1 of them has an IQ of 100.  The average IQ is 85.15 so 99% of the children have a below average IQ.

      • Anonymous says:

        IQ tests are normed so that one half of a normal group taking the test scores below the average score of 100, and one half scores above 100. Unless you are saying that the Cayman population is markedly different, (and I don’t personally believe that is so) then about half of the Cayman population is below average intelligence. A score difference of 15 points is a “standard deviation” that indicates a person who is signicantly more ( or less) intelligent than average. Almost all of us fall in the average IQ range of 85 to 115. Below 85 others would notice that the person is slower to “get” concepts jokes, and the like. Above 115 you have someone who would “get” concepts, jokes etc. before the others. Students in this range are going to be easily bored, possibly disruptive, and sometimes the subject of teasing by the average kids who resent them. I have a great deal of experience reviewing psychological histories thatinclude IQ tests. They tend to be very consistent for a given person after 10 to 12 years of age. If private entities are willing to set up charter schools for kids who demonstrate special aptitudes, then that would be a real plus for every Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you care to define intelligence? There are multiple and different facets of intelligence that exist outside the “academic” realm.

    • Anonymous says:

      That's not how it works. Most people have an average IQ of around 90-110 with a minority of people having lower than average IQ on the one hand, and higher than average IQ on the other.

      The problem with your elitist C4C concept is that the other schools would get worse and worse and our society would decline further and further.

      Doesn't this conflict with what the Minister said about the schools being selective?

    • Anonymous says:

      A bulb is man made to very limited specs. Comparing the human  brain to a bulb makes you similar to people who marginalize children's potential. Never seen a child who started out bottom of the class and through great remedial intervention strategies, become full blown academics?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again telling our kids who are in the public schools that they are worthless, don't deserve the best and can't learn, shouldn't even bother, not prestige enough, lack financial backing! I mean this is all BS.  Every child deserves every opportunity to succeed in education.  We need believers, we need politicians who believe in their own public school, we need support, we need leaders!

    • Anonymous says:

      Big ideas with no thought.  Fix the problem that you have now…!!! There are children getting out of school that can't read or write…look what is happening at the college.  "Mandatory tuturoing on weekends for students who are failing"..curious to know how many.  Tara get your head out of the sand AND FIX THE ONGOING PROBLEM now.  Don't start changing things and making it more complicated.  THe government doesn't have the money to support this, the people and the majority of the businesses in cayman don't have th emoney to support this.  So, hence again FIX WHAT YOU HAVE!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Tara, sorry but you are such a dissapointment. Do not think anything else needs to be said.

    • Anonymous says:

      No one is telling the children that other than the parents. If the parents aren't pushing their all to do the best for the child then that is what the child will learn. Even if a child comes from meager origins,it doesn't mean they cannot succeed. The key to that success is the parents driving that force. You can learn so much from free courses online. The library is there for the free books to read and free internet. The ambition to take it upon yourself must be there and the interest of the parent must be there. If not then don't blame others for the lack of parents interest. 

    • Anonymous says:

      What idealistic garbage.  What we need is well educated kids.  Period.  

      What we do not need is people defending the status quo based on denialist, ideological, political or self-interested grounds.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Here is an article from The Economist which has a more balanced perspective on ARK and academy schools.  Note the piece says schools do not have control of their selection policy, the UK government does.


    • Anonymous says:

      Why let things like evidence and neutrality get in the way of relying on biased union propaganda to support a policital viewpoint?

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, all they have to do is comply witht he law. Which allows schools to be 'selective' if they are 'oversubscribed', taking 10% of their students based on aptitude. And some schools can do more. (Its England, Its complicated.) See the UK School Admission Code, 2012, if you'd like: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-admissions-code

  9. MEM says:

    OOHH!!! And I forgot to mention what the teachers are doing when bullying is reported! NOTHING! They do NOTHING! Now my biggest issue is always that the parents of these students are ultimately to blame for the "broughtupsy" of their children – but now, guess what is happening? Years ago when teachers sat in their classrooms and observed every little movement their students made whilst marking papers and planning coursework, that same time is now taken up scanning smartphones, replying to whatsapps and surfing the internet on IPads! There is no reason for a teacher to be near the internet unless it is a break time or they are using it to teach their class! There is a crapload of valuable teaching/observation time taken up by teachers using their smart devices doing classroom hours, look into it!

    • Ole B says:

      Ole B , you think a da Premier is gonna make a pronouncement on the C4C Education initiative. Me son let me tell ya it is my considered opinion that his thoughts are still he calls it evolving, I call it going round and round snd round and round, when it gon stop well I guess well have to wait and see nah! After all he isthe assumedLeader of the country, well ole b not really maybe he need Her Majestys Representative permission before he speaks. Well back to turtling wego ole B.

  10. Anonymous says:

     “… putting out speculative information”


    Hmmmmm. Isn't this exactly what Tara is doing?


    Nothing wrong with that as long as everyone understands that it is part of a brain storming exercise.

  11. MEM says:

    I do believe in equal opportunity, but when someone is given opportunity and "funks" it up and makes the whole situation bad for those who are trying, then something has to be done! My daughter has been top of her class since she was in preschool, she is now going in to Year 6 of a Government Primary school at a middle school grading level. She has been teased by lesser-attaining classmates, bullied on the bus for "reading all the time" and teased about her projects – always by students who are not achieving even half her academic grade. As a parent I have to wipe my daughter's tears and encourage her to push on because when she is older and out in life looking for a good job those same students will be looking for one dollar for food. Despite all this discouraging BS she has to put up with, she continues to strive. But now I am worrying about life in a public high school next year! If I have to sell house, car and soul, I will make sure my daughter does not have to sit next to these ill-bred, disrespectful childen in a public high school! The primary school has been bad enough! If my daughter was to tease another child or bully another kid I would spank her behind and make her apologize in front of the class, other parents turn a blind eye to their children's disrespectful, disobedient behaviour even when they are sitting in a courtroom behind them watching their son approach the bench in shackles! Children ARE young people, where they begin is often where they end.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perfect example of how kids should be raised, Keep up the good work MEM. This is the type of child that would be a perfect candidate for advanced schooling, she wants to learn, studies and tries hard. And has her parents support and mentoring starts in the home. Exposing her to these other little losers with no home training would hold her back, now that's not fair to her or her parents. There needs to be an atmosphere that shows people that hard work and dedication pays off, not that if you work hard and raise your kids right they are no better off the kids of people that don't. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't understand why someone had to click Troll on this lady's comment. She has a very real problem and is trying to make lemonade our of lemons.
      I wish you luck, as a parent myself, I know when your child aches and struggles you burn because there is little you can do. You have taken a wonderful approach by continuing to encourage your child and bulid up her self-esteem which is paramount to overcoming so many of life's obstacles.

      It's clear something definitely needs to be done. But I would need to see statistics and proof of this system working in the SAME type of community that we have here, as many of the counter argument are valid. The behavioural issues need to be addressed yesterday – not in a six months to a year.

      I agree that parents play a huge roll in a child's success as is evident in this lady's case. Her child is in the same school system we say are failing. What the difference – yes maybe that child is a bit more gifted then many of her school mates – but her mother clearly is active in the child's life and THAT makes a difference in their success.

      Let's address the real issues. Maybe they need to implement some mentoring programs and have coaching for children who show potential and aren't getting the support. But a child with behavioural issues have deeper problems – look at the root to find the problem.

  12. Tis true says:

    Segregation has been the main problem for many years. Expats vs Locals in schools is a complete failure. Generations ago when the schools were integrated, children learned other cultures and strived to compete and grow.  The poor public education system is a failure of 20 years of bad government and crony corruption. HOW the senior Admin haskept their cushy jobs is a scandal in itself.  There ARE experts who could fix this within 3 years, but only if allowed without who-ya-know & where's-my-cut local influence and interfearance 

    • Anonymous says:

      Young kids don't know expats from locals. They are all just kids to them, its the parents who make them aware.

    • anonympous. says:

      Well we had principals that had vision for the school, children and country, not money hungry teachers with hand in cookie jar! Mr.John R Gray had a heart for his students, creating a learning center for the haves and have nots to each benefit from. every child is not cut out to be an academic nio matter where he or she was born. Makes no difference cayman have the biggest and brightest brains in this country? We are one of the leading financial centers of the world Tara this may come back to haunt you, and cause West Bayers to deispise you. Be careful its a bad move, you can do better.. Just how do you plan on pulling this one off?

      • Anonymous says:

        Money hungry teachers?   That is funny.  Anyone truly money hungry would never bother training to be a teacher.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Forsing expats to sedn their kids to private school does one thing, it create an environment where thier kids to get better educations. While Caymanian kids get lacluster educations.

      • Anonymous says:

        Forcing expats to send their kids to private school does one thing; it creates an environment where their kids go to get a better education. All this while Caymanian kids get a lackluster education.

        Friend, I helped you out with that. I get your point and fully agree with it. I would assume that you are one of those Caymanians who received a lackluster education and yet you want an opportunity for your children to overcome this obvious hurdle.

        I am not convinced that your politicians have your best interests at heart. Good luck.

  13. Anonymous says:

    FYI – "Alden McLaughlin has still not responded to CNS questions" because he does not know how to say this:

    Life is about survival of the strong, not the weak. It is the illusion created by "civilisation" that all are equal.

    With limited resources and a growing population we need to accept that adequately equipping the best of the best is the wiser strategy as opposed to taking finances, infrastructure, and human capital away from the best of the best just to be "inclusive" of students who don't want to learn, don't appreciate the value of education, assault the educators, are reinforced in their negative attitudes by their parents, and who will continue this cycle with all of its ill side effects when they are raising the next generation.

    We must be selective toward those who evidence the will to apply a wholehearted effort towards schooling! Why shouldn't we pull together the brightest students this country has to offer and reward them with the highest quality education? They deserve it; they have worked for it; and they will continue to strive for excellence regardless of any plan put forth by Rivers et al. We shouldn't dare spare a seat at the table of knowledge for anyone not grasping the importance of education and the commitment necessary to extract its value, nor should we place students at such a table whose talents are entirely comprised of distraction and disruption to the detriment of those worthy of being there.   

    • Anonymous says:

      Back in the day of the dreaded strap being the preferred way to deal with unruly students, this was not an issue. Unruly students either abided by the authority of the educators or all hell was beaten out of 'em.  Funny how a sore baxide can turn a little hellion in to a "Yes Sir/Yes Ma'am" student with far less trouble and money than is spent today on accommodating the disrespectful little rebels.  

      Students today know thay can get away with being mini-terrorists in the classroom and they way they are coddled by our sickening politically correct system just serves to reinforce and encourage their anti-social behaviour.

      • Anonymous says:

        Even the bible say spare the rod and spoil the child, funny how so called christians ignore this..

  14. Justice says:

    Here's a thought, why not privatize politicians? Clearly there's no accountability for any of these jokers!

  15. Anonymous says:

    A simple observation -leadership is necessary to the growth, progress and stability of any organisation. If the leadership is rocky then…

    There is no one answer to this problem and segregation certainly is not going to help in a way that will give students what they need- a system that is reliable and consistent in its methodology.

    My heart goes out to the children. As a teacher on another island, it pains me to read these kinds of articles.

    I do hope a timely, reasonable and proactive solution can be found sooner than later. The “carousel” of social problems no doubt follow the lack of proper education (cognitive, social-emotional, psychological, physical etc) and unless this simple philosophy is adopted the future of these children look dim. “It takes a village to raise a child.”

  16. Anonymous says:

    Because privatizing Government institutions always work out so well. Hey, let’s take a Government department that by its very nature is there for the benefit of the people and give it to a private institution that only cares about its bottom line….there is no way that anything could go wrong and I'm sure they will never put their ability to make a profit over the needs of its students. HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND GUYS…MISSION ACOMPLISHED.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The main secret to a happy life is realizing that life is not fair. That is why God found it necessary to admonish mankind not to covet. Like the wife calls her 6 ft husband to retrieve something off a high shelf, all of us who are endowed with lesser abilities need the assistance of better endowed fellows. It benefits Cayman to have aplace for higher IQ children to achieve their highest and best potential. When the low IQ Camanian arrives at the hospital after the bar fight or drunken car crash he is better off of that facility is a state of the art paid by the tax remittances and charitable contributions of his higher earning IQ betters. The more of these folks the education system puts out the better off we all are. On the other hand, it makes no sense to waste money on average and below IQ kids on the pretense of equal education. These kids should be evaluated for apptiudes in art, music, and the like, but their life path will be different from that of their cognitive betters. Our educationsystem should be based in reality, not in egalitarian fantasy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh. My. God. Whilst I agree that you are entitled to your opinion, reading it made me feel ill. I can only hope that you are not in a position of any influence, anywhere, ever. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Sieg Heil, mein Führer!

    • Anonymous says:

      – 07:27. My God,you sound like you would have been right at home with Hitler and his Nazis.Next you will suggest  that we kill off  the lesser IQ persons and those who have disabilities,rather than waste money on them.Let us hope that you are never in a position to implement any of your very hateful and mean spirited ideas.

    • George Wallace says:

      "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever".

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely correct.  The US effectively does this already by limiting the level high school education to below that of European systems because it has realised that such an approach is a much more efficient application of resources.  Your point is all the more valid in the modern technological age when the gap between the economic value of the intelligent and the average worker has grown at a rapid pace. 

  18. Michel says:

    What will happen with this will be exactly what Anonymous 8:22. And I quote from Tara Rivers ” we will let you know once everything is in place”. Is that after the fact as usual ? We have seen similar scenario before. I think some legislator just want to make big crazy changes so they can be recognised in the future even if it’s bad. We All know what would happen after. Yes we are very educated by now regarding crazy ideas, and of course lack of transperency. Absolute craziness and I pray that the Legislators in da house don’t support this one bit. I for one will take notes and names that support this. God Bless.

  19. The Mechanic says:

    Tara and Alden are like ships without rudders. 

    • Anonymous says:

      The topical crab in a barrel mentality.   Always ready to tear down, never ready to build up.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don't know wha dah topical crab is. but if you meant to say cayman crab, well now… mind ya don't get nip by dah big claw! boy dah can hurt!

    • Anonymous says:

      Slightless harsh of the rudderless ships of the world.  Those useless pilesof junk don't have rampant self-importance issues.

    • Michel says:

      And taking on plenty water.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I'm a little surprised Tara hasn't commented on the criticism of the IB programme, considering her educational background includes an IB Diploma…

    • Anonymous says:

      She has moved on.  After all she studied at the University of Allen and Overy.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think you're on to something there. Perhaps the plan is to privatize the schools by converting them into law (and other) firms since they're now defined as educational institutions. We should have all seen this coming!

  21. Anonymous says:

    A privatized school needs to make money like a business. And in order to make money they need to have high scoring students. In order to have high scoring students they have to dump the slow learners.

    That is not the future Cayman should gor. It leads to a split society of rich and poor, gated communities, and out of control crime.

    Any school system is a good system. The problem are the teachers and the parents.

    So, change the teachers AND the parents.


    • Anonymous says:

      you are making a lot of assumptions. How do you know the criteria for funding? Oh, you don't, you are therefore assuming.  Consider this, what if the schools were student centric and needs based in contrast to the admnistraton centric goal based system we have now.

      Understand we don't have kids that are failures, we have a system that is failing our kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      we allready have a split society, what planet (island) do you live on?? ever since they separated local and expats kids 20 some years ago!!!  

      • Anonymous says:

        Can you imagine when the schools are being privatized ?

        The current split will only increase.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Tara but charter/accademy/whatever schools are selective by their nature. Its practially part of the definition. To say we'll have them but they won't be selecctive is like saying we'll have the bicycle without the two parts that get pushed to go round and round. You can have it, but it won't be a bi-cycle any more.

    The problem,Tara, is that Cayman is smarter than you think we are. Please think more critically before making pronouncemnts. We're thinking critcally about what you (all) say.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Premier Alden is again showing his true colors by ignoring the issue. Great leadership on display  NOT!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Premier knows better than to take this one on. Tara can brainstorm all she wants but this will never happen.  If she wants a charter school then she should go ahead and resign her position of Minister of Education, create her charter school. I see no problem with that. Maybe Charter schools are the next best idea, but Government should not be getting in partnership with private sector to do so, because the fees would be astronomical and many parents would not be able to send their children ther neither would government be able to afford the cost..  The owners of these school would only inflate the cost because that is what private companies do. It is not just running a business and making a modest profit with them- they want every cent in circulation.  If private citizenswants to organise charter schools and parents who can afford them want to send their children there then so be it. Good for them. As I see it Government will then have some free up space where they can spend more on the children who stay in their schools, more attention from teachers and if enough children go over to the charter schools then government might even be able to consolidate a few schools and sell of any extra school buildings to the charter organisers.  I see this as a win win for every one. The children in the private charter schools will blossom and so will the children in the government schools.  If the method of teaching in the charter school is superior to that in the public, then the teachers in the public could copy the method in the private and all of the schools would be charter schools.  Private charter schools and public charter schools.

      • Anonymous says:

        From what you are saying that is no different than what is happening currently. Private school and public school.  You have added the word charter to it that's all. All schools on island receive government funding of some sort anyway.