PHILIPSBURG–A majority of public school teachers seem to have an issue with Director of Public Education Glenderline Davis-Holiday, according to information gathered at an urgent gathering of educators in the sector on Thursday morning. Leading the charge is Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard, who was approached by some teachers.
For two days teachers in public education have been wearing black as a sign of discomfort with the Director, and MP Leonard plans to contact the private sector to join the teachers in wearing black until something is done about the situation. Present at the meeting was the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot and two board members.
MP Leonard started the meeting with providing an explanation on how she got involved with organizing the cause. She says she does not have a personal issue with anyone but was disturbed to hear grievances among teachers about the Director.
Close to 40 teachers filled a classroom at the University of St. Martin (USM) where the meeting was held.
Leonard did several team building exercises in the past for primary schools and was approached by a school manager to organize one for public schools. The MP took the advice and started preparations to start a big team building day for teachers in April.
Leonard invited several teachers from different public schools to come to a meeting to describe some of the hurdles they encounter at their places of employment. They were asked in a survey to fill out and give names of those persons who seem to give negative energy at the workplace. At one institute a school manager was named while across the board, according to the MP, the Director of Education’s name popped up every time.
According to teachers at the first session, the Director instils fear and shows dictatorial tendencies. Several examples were given to Leonard and a follow up meeting with more teachers was organized to see if the majority of educators felt the same way. Four out of six public schools are reportedly experiencing problems with Holiday.
“There is one case were the same Director put on paper to school managers that guidelines should be read out by the school managers and not given out to the teachers. This is unheard off. This is against the labour laws of this island. Teachers are ready to strike if something is not done with the Director,” said MP Leonard. The teachers refuse to go into the new school year with the same Director.
A Facebook page was started and posted by to spread the word and posted by the group on Wednesday stating: “We are asking the Public of St. Maarten to take a stand for the teachers. For us to be respected for our work and dedication to the future of this country: the students.
Public School Teachers have been asked to perform miracles under the harshest of conditions and even harsher management styles. How can we expect our children to develop into positive, educated, contributing members of society in a depressive environment?”
Leonard wants to bring the issue to parliament as soon as possible because teachers seem to not want a sit down with the Ms. Holiday to talk out grievances.
Showing support for the teachers were fellow MPs Leona Marlin-Romeo, Cornelius de Weever, Christophe Emanuel, Theo Heyliger and -also a teacher- Maurice Lake.
Lake said after the meeting: “As part of the coalition of eight and an educator, government needs to listen and support our educators with their grievances. I am sure the current Minister of Education will address them for us to continue providing quality education to our children. We need to start listening to the principals and teachers to start providing proper management of public schools.”
WITU President Claire Elshot said “we are in solidarity with teachers of public education. This situation has been going on for years and it is about time that we stand up and do something about it. We don’t have a problem with the person but the incompetence of the duties carried out. The abuse of power by the person must stop and it is time for a change.”
Leonard closed the meeting and did not give any indication of the next course of action, but more signatures will be collected and she hopes that the Education Minister will get on board with the teachers.
“I want teachers to come to Parliament and give their take on the issue in a closed door meeting. Minister Jacobs, after this, can take the next step to work towards a solution because I do not want to take away anybody’s responsibilities,” concluded Leonard.
Teachers will continue to wear black and private sector employees are asked to do the same by dressing in black to support the cause.
Source: The Daily Herald School teachers want public education director removed