Wednesday , March 29 2023

Opinion: History Always Repeats Itself!

Dear Editor,

To be clear, I’m talking about the SEF Board. I’m not really interested, at this moment, in asking for the board to explain why they chose not to renew certain teachers’ contracts since they claim that’s their exclusively right.  I’m willing to accede that specific point at the moment.  I want to focus on a bigger issue.  An issue that the board is bound to repeat again and again.

Let’s look at the chain of events to fully understand why the board is doomed to fail and the students will be the biggest losers in this game where their future is the prize. In the recent past, SCS’ school management recruited and hired teachers with the board approving management’s recommendations. Each member of school management is a teacher. They understand the teacher’s role in the classroom and in the community. Up until recently the board always accepted management’s recommendations. This year the board decided which teachers would stay and which ones would leave without input from management however the board never spent one second in a classroom.  They never graded a paper or had to deal with the frustration of a nonresponsive student but in the board’s eyes the teachers are the problem, why is not clear.

The board gave the same management team that recruited and hired last year’s teaching staff the responsibility for recruiting and hiring this year’s new teachers.  They have also put their consultant Floor van der Zwan on the case. She is their eyes and ears but she is only a consultant and doesn’t live on Saba.  We don’t know what her qualifications are but she is acting on their behalf.

The board refuses or perhaps lacks the ability to articulate why we need to change teachers and director. Their inability to articulate why we need to change will not serve to achieve their end goals. Their lieutenants will choose new teachers based on what they believe is needed like they did the year before and a year from now we will have a mass exit because once again the board will deem that these teachers are inappropriate.

The only way to stop the cycle is for the board to do their own recruiting, evaluating and terminating after clearly articulating to everyone what is expected.  If the board wants to have the power to dismiss teachers then they need to hire them, evaluate them, reprimand them and do everything that management does.  They cannot be absentee management because that will never work.

This current board wants the power of being a board but they lack the capacity to think about the future of the school and how do we prepare our students for tomorrow. They want to rule from on high but do not want to do the hard work of developing policy. They want the power to tell people it’s my way or the highway but they lack the ability to clearly articulate and frame the discussion of what’s needed and history will repeat itself again.

Friends of Parents of SCS

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  1. Concerned for Saba Education

    This is really the crux of the issue at the moment. Unfortunately, at this point it is unlikely that the decisions of the board will be reversed, so how do we make sure that this does not happen again? If there is no clear reasoning behind the dismissal of the staff from SCS, how is this situation to be prevented in the future, even with any new board that is elected? The continuity of teaching staff is essential for a school to function, in the same manner that any organization cannot prosper without committed, long-term staff. This fact is further supported by the fact that the Netherlands is willing to dedicate $6 million dollars to the recruitment and retention of staff in the BES islands. Obviously this is an area of concern, so how does the board plan to combat teacher turn over, rather than contribute to it?

    Other than the obvious effects to students when their teachers are constantly changing, this issue has further ramifications for students. Contracted teachers work in a state of uncertainty, never fully committing to their life in Saba because they don’t know when it might be ripped away. When the opportunity presents itself, they will find other employment, so as not to outstay their welcome. Permanent teachers see that hard work and determination are not appreciated nor acknowledged. This demotivates teachers to go the extra mile. How do we expect students to excel in an environment without enthusiasm and motivation?

    Change is imperative. There is obvious need for evaluation of the function of the SEF board, as well as how much authority they have and who they answer to. Procedures must be in place to ensure that this type of situation will not occur again. Otherwise, SCS will never meet the expectations of the inspectorate, and the students of Saba, and indeed Saba’s future, will suffer. Without immediate change, there will be no progress.

  2. René Caderius van Veen

    Quote: “I’m not really interested, at this moment, in asking for the board to explain why they chose not to renew certain teachers’ contracts since they claim that’s their exclusively right.”

    It is not their right at all. These decisions are to be made by the management team or the director and are normally just undersigned by the board as a formality. And definitely in a board with so little qualifications and relevant experience, deviation from the decision of the director is completely out of order.

  3. For true Rene