WAITING TO EXHALE

The school year is ending. Exams are over. Teachers – waiting to exhale – are about to give out a huge sigh. Students are looking forward to summer activities. I’m waiting for results.

            What did this year’s graduating crop of students achieve? How successful were the teachers in imparting knowledge? How did students absorb that knowledge?

            By October of this year, I’ll know what Mount St Agnes has done. I’ll be told what Saltus and BHS and Warwick Academy have done. Bermuda Institute will have published its results.

            Will the two senior public schools do anything other than put lots of pictures of students in the paper and say that they’ve ‘graduated’? Will these two schools publish exam results so that we can see what happened, and make comparisons?

            It’s said that education is not a competition. That test results don’t tell the whole story. That the public schools don’t get a ‘good’ selection of students. The litany goes on and on…

            Reality? Once a young Bermudian male or female puts on that gown and mortarboard, walks across the stage, accepts a senior school certificate, then walks on past the VIP who handed them that certificate; that now ex-student walks right into a cruelly competitive world.

            The instant that student passes that VIP, and becomes an ex-student, he or she goes into direct competition with eighteen year-olds from India – the Philippines –  the Caribbean – North and South America – the EU. In fact, every country in the world.

            Bermuda now has a global workforce. Canadians infuse Bermuda’s construction industry. Indians and South Americans are embedded in Bermuda’s hospitality industry. People from the EU and North America flood Bermuda’s ‘international business’.

            Six thousand workers at the Rover Cars plant in Longridge, Birmingham, UK lost their jobs because Rover Cars stopped making cars.  Over in Japan, Japanese workers still have jobs making Toyota cars.

            Mighty General Motors, the US car manufacturing giant, lost a billion dollars last quarter. In order to increase sales of their cars, GM now offers an ‘employee discount’ to every potential customer. Meanwhile, over in Japan and all over the rest of the world,  Japanese made Toyota cars are still selling like hotcakes.

            Look at the ‘made in’ labels in your Liz Claibornes or Pulitzers. Check your cellphone and see where that was made. Once, the only wines were ‘French’ or ‘Italian’. Today?  French and Italian wines fight for shelf space with wines from Australia, Chile, Hungary, and a score more of new wine-growing countries.

            Reality? Everybody is in an open competition with everybody else.

            The other reality – especially for us Bermudians – is that no matter how much prattle there is about the need to defend and protect the students in the public school system; all those efforts evaporate the instant that student passes that VIP. At that precise moment, that public school ex-student goes into a head-to-head, toe-to-toe, knock-‘em down, drag-‘em out competition with the students of Saltus, BHS, Warwick Academy, MSA, Bermuda Institute.

            When ex-students turn up in personnel offices looking for work, or when they seek admission to colleges, they all compete on exactly the same harsh terms. No more protections. No more soft landings. Just cold uncaring reality.

            The school year is ending. Exams are over. Ex-students are entering this hard knocks world.

            We all know the public schools have not been doing as well as the private schools. The job-hiring market reflects this. Look around, see it. Listen, hear it.

             The real results that the two public schools do achieve – whatever they are – must be published. Not publishing them is dishonest and does not conceal the reality that the job-hiring, scholarship awarding, and college admitting processes do ultimately and so blatantly display.

            Publishing today – or in the next two months will publicly and definitively deliver a temporary unpleasant reality. But the job-hiring, scholarship awarding, and college admitting processes have been delivering longer-lasting realities – every year – for over twenty-five years.

            Publishing concentrates essential information in an easy to see format. This enables everybody to see the problem.  This enables and encourages everybody to push towards real solutions.

            Not publishing maintains a national dishonesty and stupidity.  It’s like telling Rover Car workers to keep coming to work making their Rover cars even though no one is buying their cars and – ultimately – no one will be able to pay them for their work.

            Publish and compare the Terra Nova results! Publish and compare the BSC results!  Or damn us all, one more time, by throwing away one more precious year!

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