Saunders calls out education ‘lie’

| 18/03/2021
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Chris Saunders became the first candidate to call out the Chamber of Commerce question that has been asked on a number of its Candidates Forums this month as to why the private schools in Cayman are doing better than the government schools when it comes to educating the country’s children. Inspection reports have actually rated many private schools weak over the last year and the opposition incumbent for Bodden Town West accused the business community of using this misleading concept to justify not hiring young Caymanians.

Given that education policy is a major issue in every election campaign, candidates invariably want to weigh in on how important the topic is to them and how solutions need to be found, but few are prepared to challenge the received wisdom that public education is always bad and private always good. This perception is not helped by the fact that most politicians over the last two decades have sent their children to private sector schools, with Ezzard Miller being one of the few MPs in recent history who has sent his children to government schools while in office.

When asked how he would address the imbalance in quality between the private and public schools, Saunders said that in his experience there was a misconception about the performance of government school students who are really very talented.

“Many employers are actually perpetrating this story as an excuse not to hire Caymanians. And where the rubber meets the road is even when Caymanian kids come back from university, they still can’t get the jobs. So you can’t sit back and say there is something wrong with the system,” he said.

He said the schools were not perfect and we could do better, but this was down to resources and governance, and politicians needed to let the experts deal with it.

In contrast, his challenger and the most recent member of the PPM Alliance, Vincent Frederick, said the government schools were failing. He said education started at the home as it did when he was a child, when the elders taught children to be respectful, even though children didn’t have shoes but just sandals. He also advised young Caymanians who do go to college not to come back but to work overseas instead as a way to combat the challenges they face finding work here and dealing with the cost of living.

The two men answered questions on a variety of subjects, from the lack of affordable homes to beach access, and both candidates were clear on their support of beach access and more enforcement of this.

However, Frederick appeared not to understand how the challenge to beach access was one of the issues that objectors had raised against the controversial Beach Bay Manderin Oriental Hotel project at the heart of the Bodden Town West constituency. He had clearly not done his research on the project, which has now been cleared through the process, as the objectors fell at the final hurdle some time ago when they lost their appeal.

Frederick said he supported development in general as well as this specific project and said he would work with the government to get the hotel moving, though he admitted that he had not spoken to the developers or the objectors and did not appear to understand the issues relating to this controversial development. “It is a good plan and it will benefit the people down there,” he said.

On the other hand, Saunders, who had attempted to get the developer to meet the objectors and listen to their concerns, said he understood why the residents had objected, given how government had handled the gutting of the planning law to limit the ability of residents to object and the re-zoning of the neighbourhood.

“The residents of Beach Bay were right to object to that development,” he said. “When the people of Beach Bay bought their property it was zoned a particular way,” he said, pointing out that the developers also knew when they bought the land how it was zoned.

“But you then went out and lobbied the government to get the zoning changed,” he said, pointing out that people become angry about the process when they are blocked out of it. Saunders said the re-zoning was one of the major problems regarding this project.

The Chamber forums continue this evening with the candidates for Cayman Brac East.

Watch the full BTW forum on the Chamber YouTube channel below:

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Comments (15)

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  1. Frank Eade says:

    It is very important to recognise that if you look at the inspection criteria the private schools gain advantage in two of the criteria used: A. Standard of Achievement and B. Student Progress. Very simply, more able students achieve higher grades and make better progress and thats what parents are paying for. If the best students are being creamed off from the government schools then inspections need to take account of the average IQ of the students in making any judgements about effectiveness. It is the relative gains made that matter

    • Anonymous says:

      The private school parents are also more involved and caring in their children’s schooling.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Years ago Mr Roy Bodden was saying on radio that unemployed Caymanians should consider going overseas for jobs. I was so upset he’d suggest that, guess his fellow Bodden Towner heard those sentiments. I would love for Mr Bodden to state regrets for that suggestion.

  3. Orrie Merren says:

    Well said, Chris. I agree.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know any educated Caymanians that dont have great jobs. I know ones who think they are the smartest but can’t hold a simple job so they deflect and blame permit holders. I will say a training course on politeness is severely needed. Your public schools are a mess and most of your Christian family values are a disguise for adultery/abuse/molestation/hatred so it’s not far fetched to say that when parents have 8 children with multiple partners some of the kids are left to their own devices which isn’t helping to motivate them at all. There isn’t a scheme to not hire caymanians, there’s entitlement built in to the poorly educated ones.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Chris you got this my boy! Frederick is no match to your intellect, vision and leadership. BTW please vote wisely, vote SAUNDERS.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Everything about Saunders , his family , and associates follow an agenda is to transform us into Jamaica.
    Be careful what you wish for.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think Joey Hew and Mckeeva Bush will take us down that road more so than Chris. You are really naïve and haven’t a clue what is happening on our Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:48 am,your are right, we did not go along with Jamaica when it went independent, just think what these Islands would be like now if we had joined Jamaica. We sure do NOT want Cayman to be like Jamaica now

  7. Anonymous says:

    Saunders is a dumbass but he got this one right, and compared to Frederick he is a genius.

    • Anonymous says:

      A dimwit compared to a moron is a genius. We need to vote for the dimwit! This is what single member constituencies have brought us to. Thanks Progressives!

  8. Anonymous says:

    My opinion is that we give independents a chance. Both parties-even working together-have done more damage than good. I only ask that they brainstorm constantly to arrive at unified solutions instead of spending 8 hours of time paid by the people bickering amongst themselves in Parliament.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Frederick is not fit and ready to serve and I question why, based on his performance, he has even put himself forward for consideration. I do not agree with every position that Saunders has taken over the past few year’s. That said, Saunders is clearly more prepared to provide competent and capable leadership for BTW and the Cayman Islands.