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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 20, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesOUR SCHOOLS ARE IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY

OUR SCHOOLS ARE IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY

The recent comment by Ohanio Harris about a state of emergency for our public schools is typical of the cycle of secrecy we tolerate and support in the Virgin Islands.
Harris, special assistant to the governor on St. Croix, said the governor should be wary of declaring a state of emergency for our schools because it would send the wrong message via the media about the state of the territory.
With the advent of the Internet, and in particular the Source publications, the world can read in great detail exactly what is going on in the territory's schools: violence, arson and senators who don't want students in school on Memorial Day.
So why would a state of emergency declaration have any more of a detrimental effect?
It is typical of the dysfunctional family to try to hide the dysfunction rather than acknowledging it, exposing it and doing something about it.
There is a state of emergency in the territory's schools, declared or not.
Similar — though perhaps not as dire — problems have gripped other school systems across the country. But communities that truly care about their children have demanded that their leaders solve the problems and upgrade the system — whatever that takes.
In truth, a state of emergency is only verbiage. What really needs to happen to public education in the Virgin Islands is a drastic and comprehensive overhaul of the entire system, from testing teacher competency to upgrading our school buildings.
Be it charter schools, which some recommend, or a combination of magnet schools and smaller neighborhood schools, something must change, including our priorities.
The focus must return to the students in an open and honest way.
That won’t happen until we admit to ourselves — and to the world, if necessary — that the deficiencies in our public school system have reached critical proportions and that we are ready to do something about it. Until then, our schools will remain a public shame.

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The recent comment by Ohanio Harris about a state of emergency for our public schools is typical of the cycle of secrecy we tolerate and support in the Virgin Islands.
Harris, special assistant to the governor on St. Croix, said the governor should be wary of declaring a state of emergency for our schools because it would send the wrong message via the media about the state of the territory.
With the advent of the Internet, and in particular the Source publications, the world can read in great detail exactly what is going on in the territory's schools: violence, arson and senators who don't want students in school on Memorial Day.
So why would a state of emergency declaration have any more of a detrimental effect?
It is typical of the dysfunctional family to try to hide the dysfunction rather than acknowledging it, exposing it and doing something about it.
There is a state of emergency in the territory's schools, declared or not.
Similar — though perhaps not as dire — problems have gripped other school systems across the country. But communities that truly care about their children have demanded that their leaders solve the problems and upgrade the system — whatever that takes.
In truth, a state of emergency is only verbiage. What really needs to happen to public education in the Virgin Islands is a drastic and comprehensive overhaul of the entire system, from testing teacher competency to upgrading our school buildings.
Be it charter schools, which some recommend, or a combination of magnet schools and smaller neighborhood schools, something must change, including our priorities.
The focus must return to the students in an open and honest way.
That won’t happen until we admit to ourselves — and to the world, if necessary — that the deficiencies in our public school system have reached critical proportions and that we are ready to do something about it. Until then, our schools will remain a public shame.