Today, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, toured two secondary schools, no doubt to satisfy himself that all will be well at these institutions when school resumes in early September.
We understand why he would want to see the progress being made on work at these institutions — after all, he is not just responsible as minister; he has a distinguished background as an educator and trade unionists in the education sector and therefore stakeholders will expect more from him than from a novice.
What we would like to know, however, is what will happen at the Alexandra School come September 3, when teachers are expected to be back on the job, and September 10, when they are to be joined by their 800-odd students. Some may argue that we are speculating, but we suspect none who question the fact that we are asking questions now, will be a parent of a child at Alexandra.
We are sure that in recent weeks principals of the nearly two dozen secondary schools across the island have been engaging themselves and their administrative staff with preparing for the new school year. However, Alexandra principal Jeff Broomes has spent numerous days at the Wildey Gymnasium where the commission looking into the running of his school has been sitting.
It would be unreasonable for anyone to expect that the man at whom most of the charges have been levelled not to have been there; and it is therefore reasonable to ask who has been looking after the affairs of the school in the interim. So, let’s be charitable and take it for granted that up to this point the principal’s presence was not absolutely necessary at the school.
It would be hard for us to see, however, how a principal would not have a considerable amount to do next week — the same week when it is expected that Broomes will be on the stand at the commission defending himself. It is reasonable to expect, given all that has been said, that he will spend some time testifying.
Has someone been designated by the ministry to take charge of matters at the school ahead of the teachers return — just ten working days away?
Every parent with a child at the Alexandra School should also be concerned on another front. Teachers return to the school on September 3. Jeff Broomes is still the principal and we take it for granted that he will be returning as well. After all, it would take nothing less than divine intervention for Broomes to testify next week, for the commissioner to review all the evidence, write his report, get it to the Governor General, who then has to forward it to Parliament, which then has to act — and have all this done and a solution in place by the start of school.
With all the water that has flowed under the bridge at the Wildey Gymnasium, can the various parties sit across the table and engage each other in a manner that would effectively allow them to plan for the return of the students and for their proper education?
Some may say yes, we say: We don’t see it happening. As has been said repeatedly during the hearing, with all the stories that have now reached the public domain Alexandra School in September will look nothing like Alexandra School in June past.
So we repeat: Whose responsibility is it to see that Alexandra is ready for teachers on September 3, and students on September 10? For once, it would appear, if things don’t go right at Alexandra come September, the blame can’t be placed on Jeff Broomes or Mary Redman.
But is it about blame, or the students?