If Talk Were All That Mattered

Posted on: February 17, 2014

I’ve been to the Ministry before and nothing has become of it. The promises which were made in 2011, 2012, and 2013 are still the same promises made in 2014. Has the Minister forgotten that she’s a public servant – working on behalf of the people? What misguided boldness! Such utter nonsense being publicly aired by a Minister of Government! That I, as a parent, knows where the Ministry is. Clearly suggesting that if I have any issues I should take my concerns there! Honorable Minister, I think it’s important that you understand that in government, there are going to be decisions you make (or actions you take) whose effects are likely to outlast the government of the day – And those, in my humble opinion are worthy of being addressed in public. Also, please tell the good public that I’ve been there (to your office) and done that! Tell them about the emails I’ve sent sharing my views and suggesting ways that the Ministry could possible get things done. Tell them about the discussions I’ve had with you and other members of your team about this very topic. But as Martin Luther King once said…  “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” So, get off your high-horse and stand! This sort of superior attitude is what makes the public despair. There is a huge problem with regards to the provision of special education in this country. These deep systemic problems we’re faced with are not mine alone – And they are bigger than the speeches, the openings and the photo-ops we sometimes clamor for

Regarding the Minister’s comments about my supposed attack on the members who sit on the Special Education Council… For those who missed it, here’s an excerpt of what I said:

“A Special Education Council was put in place… Good move: An advisory council could potentially assist the Ministry with drafting policies/programs/plans/reviewing budgets and giving guidance (relating to special education) on how to put those plans into action. Where I think you went wrong: Instead of looking as far as the eye can see with regards to assembling a diverse group to sit on this council – You, looked outside your office door. That‘s the only conclusion I could arrive at to explain why you would elect a senior executive within the Ministry as the Chair of this council – Added to that the other members (with the exception of one) are all Ministry execs.

By all means, this is not an attack on the competencies of the individuals who sit on the council but they are Ministry staffers and are conflicted, therefore, in providing independent advice to you. The council is unlikely to recommend actions deemed unfavorable by you or criticize any decisions that have been made by the Ministry. Therefore you and your team cannot receive the objective advice needed in order to make intelligent decisions. This clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of the processes of thoughtful planning which the provision of special education services requires.”

I’m not attacking the competencies of the individuals as you suggest. Actually, it’s your competency I question. You’re the one who has made the people doing the work both the doers and the advisers. How can you expect no one to question this? The actions you take have a direct impact on things and it baffles me that you’re unable to see this conflict. So, please do not confuse my right to be critical publicly with anything else. Don’t make that vulgar mistake that I’m somehow persecuting you or anyone else just because you’re being challenged.

Instead of working with the press to help the public understand what you are doing and why, you chose to defend your lackluster record where special needs education is concerned, on the grounds that you’re standing up for others. Give me a break! Quit trying to rationalize your phoniness into some sort of noble act. You’re not standing up for anyone! You’re using them as a shield! By the way, NO ONE! I repeat… NO ONE! Can be more hurt than the parents of these kids! At the end of the day you switch off your lights and leave your office. This is our ALL DAY EVERYDAY! So if you’re hurt, keep it to yourself! Use that energy to put the proper programs and policies in place to make the education system better for our children. It’s so ironic that it suits you now to say that every criticism is a broad-brush approach. In a quote from an article posted on Caribbean News Now in 2013, you said: “This particular area of education has not been done justice over the years”. Were we to believe then, that the same folks you accuse me of disregarding now were being disregarded by you when you made those comments? Come on Minister… Give us all some more credit than that. No right-thinking person would assume that’s what you meant. Also, we agree with you! That’s what this public conversation is about! Plus, at the end of the day, don’t you think those same people want better, more meaningful change too?

Here’s some advice… Don’t campaign on an issue, make empty promises, and take the job of Minister of Education, if you don’t want to be held accountable for it. We’re not accountable to you; it’s the other way around. This is our tax dollars you’re spending! It’s not only at election time you have to come to us – But you have to come to us every time! Get it right! I do not profess to have all the answers, after all, like you said I’m a “just come”. But I would love if at least once, after giving your excuses, you could tell the public what your plans really are and explain to us why the promises you’ve made have not been kept.

When the 2014 Education Week launched with a call for greater commitment – Again, what are you asking us to commit to? Can’t be blind commitment? Which, as far as I’m concerned is intellectual suicide – And I cherish my independence too much to allow that. But you know, I once came across a quote which said: “The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” So from me to you…

I will continue to be critical, because no government gets it right all the time. So stop treading on dangerous ground with your archaic views – This notion some politicians have where they want you to come to their office to bare your soul. So sing to the media and cry inside these walls. Perhaps it’s because of how I was raised and the fact that I probably watch too much MSNBC, that I find it difficult to accept that crap.

As I’ve said before, I’m an ordinary mom. The only special interest I have is for my son and others like him to have equal access to an appropriate and adequate education. I’m proud to be able to speak up and out for them and even more determined not to stop. So you see… Honorable Minister; I’m not asking for anything that you yourself haven’t asked for, said we needed. All I’m saying is: Talk is not all that matters…


6 Responses to "If Talk Were All That Mattered"

You watch too much MSNBC…..

Press on! Persevere! Continue holding their feet to the fire. They are accountable to us.

Very frank and expressive of pain. Surely, those who make promises ought to live-up to them. Keep pressing, Courageous One.

Wow, well said,,,, after reading your previous post a few days ago I thought we would have more positive comments coming from the minister.. very disappointed in her… please continue your fight to get equal education for all children.

I plan on doing exactly that. Thanks for stopping by Nikki.

WOOT WOOT!! I’m marching in your parade aunty. We’re done talking!! Action, action!! We are ALL the future, every last one of us.

I just sickens me to know that while others countries are doing so much in this area that Antigua is still in the dark ages. To make matters worse (if it can be) is that this situation doesn’t even seem to be registered on their radar. What can be more important to a country’s future than educating ALL of its children. Keep fighting the fight because if not you then who.

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