Patrick Faber says media gave wrong impression on PSE comments

Yesterday, after the Hon. Patrick Faber’s press conference, headlines for media outlets countrywide were less than flattering for the Minister in charge of education. And this morning, he called in on Rise and Shine to shed further light on some of the issues he addressed, issues he says were sensationalized by the media to make for “can’t miss headlines.” He started with his comments regarding teachers. Some have been saying that he came out in combat mode, attacking educators for their classroom performance, particularly in correlation with the poor PSE results.

Patrick Faber –  Minister of Education:
vlcsnap-2013-06-14-19h02m50s39For those who are saying I’m attacking the teachers, I am not.  The teachers need training.  I have not only said it, we have put the resources of the Ministry behind what we’re saying. Look at the number of teachers that we’ve had in training at the Cert Ed level.  Look at the Banana Belt Area where the European Union has helped us to offer training. Look at Corozal and Orange Walk  where the leadership program is going on.  The Ministry is paying.  In fact we just agreed through the partial agreement of the collective bargaining agreement, to give each teacher who is studying, starting this new school year, a grant.  If you’re doing your associates you get.  If you’re doing a certain amount you get.  If you’re doing your Bachelors you get. So it’s not like we’re just criticizing.  The thing is to pressure and support.  We’re pressuring the teachers, but it’s not like we’re saying that in isolation.  We’re also giving them that support.

Then there are comments he made regarding the Teachers’ Union. The Minister criticized the union for taking the front stage on matters such as salary increase, but then not making the same effort to improve teacher performance. He said in part “There is no denying that teachers have a tremendous effect on what these [PSE] results are. And correct me if I am wrong, I don’t hear the union’s talking about how we can improve professionalization in the teaching service at all.” Minister Faber this morning urged that the public not take his comments out of context and explained what he meant.

Patrick Faber –  Minister of Education:
The Union is responsible, or should be responsible, this is what I said, for more that just asking for increased benefits, asking for an adjustment in salary.  You show me where, I challenged Mr Palacio or anybody else in the Union hierarchy to show me where they have been instrumental in making sure that teachers behave more professionally, and that they are using those dues that they collect from the teachers on a monthly basis, $20 a month I paid for ten years.  Show me how you use those dues to help teachers to get their qualifications and to help them to be more professional.  Tell me when they last contributed to the Professional Development Sessions that the Ministry pays for in the Summer, in August. Show me when they last had a session where they brought in experts to train teachers.  The union is responsible for that, and that is my criticism of the Union.  It’s a reality,  It’s not my view.  It’s not my criticism only.  It is a reality, and I’m saying let’s put some effort from the Union into helping these teachers to be more professional.

What perhaps may have been the most troublesome is the following remark uttered by the Minister “We have a union in this country, and I’ll get into trouble again for it, that fights for teachers who are incompetent, some of them who are molesters, some of them who don’t do their job in the classroom, and the union officials know it.  But we fight for them.” He wasted no time in clarifying his statement.

Patrick Faber –  Minister of Education:
There are molesters who are in our schools, who we’ve gotten reports from.  There are complaints made by parents.  In some cases you have people who have already become adults who the statute of limitations might have passed, and they come to complain.  I’m not saying the Union directly hides and shelters these people. These cases are long-standing, and there the ones that when the Managements try to get rid of these teachers, [the Union says] “No, but you no have proper grounds to take them out.” There’s a lot more going on there.  It is the same thing with non-performing teachers.  It is the same thing with teachers who are performing in other bad ways.  Molestation is just one of them. There are teachers who go to school drunk, on a regular basis.  You try to fire them, the Union champions the cause for them. That is the case.

Hon. Faber expressed that he is not pleased by the media’s coverage of the press conference and that he will see to it that the Ministry pays for the entire presentation to be aired.

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