Principal Everton Briggs Enters Race for President of the BUT
The media report that headmaster of St. Bernard’s Primary School Everton Briggs has entered the race for president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is not news that should ordinarily create alarm in the public space. Across the Caribbean principals are routinely elected to the executive of school unions.
Today’s press report refers to Briggs’ possible conflict of interest because he served on the BUT executive when Karen Best was president, currently the Chief Education Officer. There is mention that Briggs’ appointment at St Bernard’s Primary School came after Best was in the role of Chief Education Officer. Note that Karen Best was a principal and president of the BUT.
There is enough grist in the report to pique the curiosity of fair minded citizens as to why Briggs wants to throw his hat in the ring at this time- as is his right. If one accepts how the BUT is designed to operate, the executive directs (or should) direct the workings of the BUT. If Briggs deviates then BUT’s Constitution its allow for the membership to deal with ultra vires behaviour by bringing a vote of no confidence. However, the reality of how associations in Barbados operate is another matter and how it commingles with a passive and politically polarized membership is a factor not to be underestimated. These associations are usually heavily influenced by the traits of the leader.
The blogmaster for the last ten years has sided with those who calling for civic minded Barbadians who serve the public to exercise a high level of probity. There is nothing wrong with Briggs being ambitious, the BUT membership will have to decide!
If we engage in a back of the envelope historical analysis of the rise of Ronald Jones from BUT president to that of minister of education and the appointment of Karen Best, also a former BUT president to Chief Education Officer under his watch. There is enough to inform a perspective that the position of BUT president is seen and have been used as a vehicle for political- in its general definition- advancement. We should be aware of how interlocking relationships can breed incestuous and unprofessional behaviour.
The blogmaster does not have evidence to ascribe political or less than honourable motives to Briggs, however, in recent years across the union leadership it is obvious there has been clear evidence of external influence. We encourage individuals to step forward to serve but there is also a need to ensure citizens are eternally vigilant and hold feet to the fire when merited.