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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, February 6, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesWriter Asks How Critical is Accreditation

Writer Asks How Critical is Accreditation

Dear Source,
Much is being said about our public schools losing accreditation. Our public education system was failing our students long before losing accreditation. Some students excel in spite of the failing system not because of it. Students with supportive and diligent parents or with strong will can be able to achieve certain academic excellence, but they are a very small minority. The majority of the students were underachievers while the schools were accredited. That is my understanding of the history of the public education system during the last twenty years in the US Virgin Islands. Accreditation does not guarantee a good education for all our students.
I believe there are many factors that contributed to the deterioration of the public education system, the most notorious is political interference. The appointment of persons in lead management positions that were not prepared for those roles. The slow and inefficient appointment system of the government personnel agency and the Department of Education is another factor. The removing of very competent teachers from the classrooms to administrative positions is another factor. Keeping teachers in the system that really do not qualify to be teachers or even to be substitute teachers. Poor screening of personnel hired in the system. Poor management of available resources; are all factors contributing to the poor state of the public school system. The elected Board of Education has failed in my view to exercise fully the statutory mandate it has to support the public education system and/or give the proper direction. The electorate does not take seriously who they elect to the Board of Education, they do not consider the candidates qualifications or track record.
There are some remedies that we should take into consideration immediately. First I would recommend that we go back to basics, by stressing the three R s from elementary through secondary school. Avoid social promotions. Teachers should be required to be proficient in the three R s at all levels and be re-certified at least once every five years. Define the qualifications for members to the Board of Education, such as having representatives from the parent/teachers associations, someone who has worked in the field of education or an educator, a person who is in business; someone from private and parochial schools. It is very apparent to me that the most important issue for us to address as a community is the education of our youth. Accreditation cannot educate our students, it helps only some students. Those intending to attend certain colleges or universities. The focus should be on the majority of the students, many of which are not going to go college, but they need the basic skills that the three R s will provide. Not all students are interested in a college education, some may want to go to vocational or technical schools, some may want to enter the military or go into business for themselves. Vocational education is and should be recognized as an integral part of preparing our youth for life. We need to provide the basics, our own standardized tests should reflect proficiency in the basics. We need to help develop well rounded individuals that will be assets to any community, primarily our own community.
Our politicians do not appear to have the will to do what is required to improve our educational system. I am not sure they have the understanding of the problems nor the vision to correct them. So it is up to the citizens, the residents, the taxpayers to propose solutions and demand implementation. We must let the politicians know we are tired of demagoguery and want concrete solutions or else. Power to the people, exercise your rights, that is your responsibility. Do not blame anyone but yourself for the state of our government, our schools. We need to come up with solutions and demand that they be implemented. We need to take decisive legal actions and any other actions that will give us positive results regardless of who is in office, in our quest for better schools and education for our youth. Our goal should be excellence in our schools, in our government as a whole. If we believe we deserve excellence, let us work for it, let us demand it.
J.J. Estemac
Citizens for a Better Government
St. Thomas, VI

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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