Teachers Want to Know… DID President Pedro Shepherd Ask to Lease BUT Lands for $1.00?

Submitted by Paula Seale

Three years ago the BUT named a road in its housing project after former president Karen Best. There is a fence between the land of the project and the bus stop next to the hardware store in Hothersal if you want directions. Mrs. Best said her vice president Pedro Shepherd had wanted to lease the land to raise his chickens. The offer was made between 2003 when Mrs. Best become president and 2012 when she resigned.

According to Mrs. Best, he wanted to pay a dollar a year to lease the 12 acres of land. When I heard about that I started to ask myself some questions. What good to the union was one dollar a year? What sort of conscience does it take to offer to pay one dollar annually to use 12 acres of land? Land which belongs to the union you are serving as vice president? Mr. Shepherd was on YouTube on Monday. I was listening to hear about the money the ministry docked from teachers like me back in 2016. I didn’t hear anything about that. 

I left the BUT this year because I have no confidence in Mr. Shepherd. My issues started with that dollar a year talk. It had me puzzled and caused me to start thinking about what I was going to accept. After all he and his cronies did for two years to sabotage the former president he is back. And now it is embarrassment and more embarrassment.

I went to buy groceries on Wednesday. A group of people were laughing when they talking about the union in the car park. One woman who overheard them asked if teachers couldn’t find somebody else to be president. She even brought up the degrees and education we talk about having. The man with her said Mr. Shepherd should stick to the smaller words he can manage and stop reading from a laptop like a robot. I was embarrassed as a teacher. We are becoming the laughing stock of Barbados.

Mr. Shepherd is one of the people named in the docking of pay case so he should be able to inform us. I believe he wants back his money and I would love mine too. Why weren’t teachers informed about the case on Monday? We should be able to get an update. Mr. Shepherd asked Mr. Spencer for an update at the annual conference two years ago. Why can’t Mr. Shepherd give us an update now?

Fair is fair.

It looked like Mr. Shepherd was no closer to understanding secondary school matters on Monday. We do not stay with one class for an entire school day. I may teach four or five different groups in one school day. We can’t stop teaching at lunch each day to come back the next day and continue with the same class. lt does not work like that. As a former student, a parent of adult children, the ex-husband of a secondary school teacher and the president of a teachers’ union he should understand more about how things work in secondary schools. He was the BUT president for a long time. He does not seem to be learning though. Either that, he doesn’t care to learn, he isn’t interested in learning or he was never interested.

In these times I would not boast about being at work from 9 to 1 like he did. Many of us are under constant pressure. As the president it can’t only be about him. I believe that was thoughtless and careless. A lot of teachers put in very long hours preparing lessons day and night. And then they have to be online to teach those lessons, do corrections, create notes and exercises, and still attend to the home, find time to sleep, take care of their families, go shopping and so on.

Mr. Shepherd is the IT Coordinator at Wilkie. I understand another teacher was doing a lot of the IT work there for years. But that never stopped him from arguing about not getting his coordinator’s allowance. Before Mr. Spencer beat him in 2018, he was on the executive from 1996. The people in the area around Wilkie would tell you that he was at that school for over 30 years. Despite his time at the school and as a union man and as a top officer of the union, Wilkie is in bad shape.

He said the ministry can’t touch teachers’ money back at the meeting in Queen’s Park. We all know what happened after that. Now he and Ronald Jones are on the DLP executive together. So teachers can’t hear about the pay that was docked when Mr. Jones was the Minister of Education. That would remind people of how the party Mr. Shepherd serves as Ass. General Secretary treats teachers’ rights and salaries. It is not like the BLP is any better.

Union elections are due next month. So I expect Mr. Shepherd will be in the news more regularly now. What we aren’t hearing about is the money we lost when he was president in 2016. What teachers need from the union is representation. Not comments that make the president and teachers by extension seem foolish to the public.

What about term’s leave?

What is the union doing about leave?

Has the lawyer said anything about the long leave or the docking of pay?

Teachers want to know. We deserve to know. 

12 thoughts on “Teachers Want to Know… DID President Pedro Shepherd Ask to Lease BUT Lands for $1.00?

  1. Workers unions in Barbados have long become no more than party political sub-entities.

    Its amazing how corrosive duopoly politics have been to the entire society.

    And there is no way to effectively disentangle ourselves from the decadence which will no doubt accelerate.

    Anytime party leadership cares more about their politics than the membership interest a sell-out could be expected. Whether it was Trotman or the present GS. Leadership constructs were always subject to forms of betrayal.

    • A relevant or to use the buzz phrase a fit for purpose model is required. The field worker model is redundant even for the fields.

  2. If it is Academia Gardens that is meant here I would be looking real close at the proximity to the Belle Pumping Station.

    I’ll have a look at the old zoning that existed before and new zoning proposals and see what I see.

    Anyone can.

  3. Discussions on Term 3 set for Wednesday and Thursday – unions
    Article by
    Anesta Henry
    Published on
    March 10, 2021

    The two major teachers’ unions are gearing up to host emergency meetings this week on the heels of the Ministry of Education announcing that teachers will receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines when the next doses become available.

    This comes amid reports that Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George has advised that students should return to face-to-face instruction as soon as possible.

    The Barbados Teachers Union (BUT) will be meeting with its members on Thursday, while the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) executive has set Wednesday as its meeting date with the general membership, ahead of an invitation to meet with Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson on Friday, March 12.

    BUT President Pedro Shepherd told Barbados TODAY that some of his membership was ready to take the vaccine while others are undecided.

    “I think there are some who are waiting for more information, more research. There are also some who are waiting to see if there will be any adverse reaction in people who have already taken the vaccine. There are some who have indicated that they are waiting on Johnson and Johnson, there are some who have said they are waiting on Pfizer, so I guess they want options,” Shepherd said.

    Shepherd said the union’s Health and Safety Division was currently planning a seminar on vaccinations for next week in an effort to address concerns teachers have about the COVID-19 vaccine. He said the union was searching for resource persons equipped with relevant knowledge on vaccinations to answer the teachers’ questions.

    A letter obtained by Barbados TODAY that has the signature of the Chief Education Officer dated Monday, March 8, titled Proposals for Term 3, 2021, advised that Dr George has stressed that students return to the classroom environment as soon as possible and indicated that the Ministry of Health and Wellness was facilitating vaccination of all teachers and ancillary staff in the next phase of vaccinations. He also said that officers have been identified from the COVID-19 Monitoring Team to work specifically with schools and will commence assessments of school plants from Tuesday, March 9.

    The correspondence also indicated that the ministry was seeking the unions’ advice on the date of the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE) being moved from June 22 to July 20 as class four teachers request an additional four weeks in a face-to-face teaching environment for students to prepare for the examination.

    The Ministry of Education also wants to hear the unions’ views on special needs and CXC students returning to the classroom in Term 3.

    In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Redman said she was concerned with the ministry’s implication that it was safe for teachers to return to the classroom once they receive the vaccine.

    Redman said it cannot be ignored that children will not be vaccinated.

    “We are holding the meeting to discuss the issues and to be able to properly judge how our members are feeling, what their concerns are, and we will take it back to the Chief Education Officer on Friday,” Redman said.

    Speaking to Barbados TODAY on Monday, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw said stakeholders were once again overwhelmingly in favour of a return to face-to-face classes. However, Bradshaw explained that due to community spread and the advent of the related Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) affecting children, discussions regarding the re-opening of school have been more challenging at this time than they were last year during the first phase of the pandemic.

    Source: Nation

  4. Mr. Shepherd should not be in a position to guess (his word). Put the facts on the table and stop watching face.

    The president, the executive and the Health and Safety division should not be searching for any professionals with relevant knowledge on vaccinations to answer the teachers’ questions.

    Here is why.

    Mr. Shepherd is the 1st VP of CTUSAB. The 2nd VP of CTUSAB is a medical doctor and a member of BAMP.

    BAMP is a member of CTUSAB. Dr. Lynda Williams is the president of BAMP. She is an epidemiologist. That should more than qualify Dr. Williams. And she has been outspoken on COVID matters too.

    Mr. Shepherd just ask BAMP for assistance.

    Who is better than those doctors to explain the vaccine?

    What more do you need? Who else do you want? Are you waiting to get one of your doctor friends from the DLP to come and cuss the government?

  5. BUT frowns on face-to-face class
    The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is not accepting the Ministry of Education’s suggestion that now is a good time for students to return to the classroom.
    President Pedro Shepherd said the plan did not sit well with them, especially when recent reports indicated more than 100 minors would have contracted the COVID-19 virus and community spread remained within family units of some urban communities.
    Shepherd communicated this to the union’s membership after a two-and-a-halfhour meeting with the ministry yesterday afternoon.
    He said the BUT was still looking for an agreed path towards a proper restart of face-to-face classes.
    BUT members met with its membership on Thursday to discuss the start of Term 3 and a newly proposed date from the ministry for the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, and the union has presented recommendations to the ministry coming out of yesterday’s dialogue.
    But most importantly, said Shepherd, they were seeing some serious challenges related to getting children back in school.
    In the report to members, he paid special attention to advice coming from the ministry which indicated that public health officials had given a green light for face to face classes resuming sooner rather than later.
    “That statement really caught us by surprise. It was an ambitious one, especially in the environment where we have community spread, clusters and clusters within families. We have a number of hotspots in Barbados and to make the statement, which we assume was based on the science, caused tremendous concern for us,” he said.
    Shepherd added the issue was compounded by the fact that there were people who were asymptomatic.
    “While we were thinking the students were not that susceptible to the virus, a recent report from the Ministry of Health suggested there are currently 108 minors in isolation in Barbados. That is a matter of concern for us, to have students return to school minus a vaccination, coming from homes where family members may have had [COVID-19], and from villages and communities where there was community spread.”
    Serious concern
    The BUT head said there was also a serious concern about special needs students returning to class.
    “The special needs teachers were the most vocal at our meeting yesterday (Thursday) and we did inform the ministry that those in special needs were unanimous in their decision on the return to school of those students. There was absolutely no support for the return of those students,” he said.
    Shepherd said teachers also agreed that online instruction for special needs children was not the best form of delivery for those students, but that any return of face-to-face classes would be premature. “We must remember these students are the more vulnerable ones. These are the ones with the weaker immune systems, with medical issues and the ones who are more difficult to supervise.”
    He said the short time frame the BUT had been given to respond after receiving correspondence from the ministry on Monday night also made it difficult for them offering many suggestions on the way forward.
    “The union has some challenges with the correspondence received Monday night. That time frame had the union scrambling, but we thanked the members for attending the meeting on Thursday. We were asked to offer recommendations, so dates for [the BSSEE] may not be confirmed dates,” Shepherd advised the membership.
    “What we sent to the ministry should have reflected how the teachers felt,” the BUT boss stressed.
    On Tuesday, Acting Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson sent teachers’ unions a memo indicating that the proposed new date was July 20, pushing back an earlier proposal of June 22. She stated Class 4 teachers had expressed an interest in having additional preparation time of four weeks for their students, and a desire to return to face to face instruction to better prepare students for the exam.
    On Thursday during her national address, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said there would be a meeting with stakeholders in education next week to discuss the way forward.

    Source: Nation

  6. https://www.barbadosadvocate.com/sites/barbadosadvocate.com/files/styles/large/public/field/image/WEB-santia%20bradshaw.jpg

    DLP wants Education Minister to ‘step up or step down’

    Fri, 03/12/2021 – 6:00am

    The Democratic Labour Party is calling for the Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, to either step up to the task of running the Ministry of Education more efficiently or step down from the job.

    In a recent press statement, they expressed dissatisfaction with the “ad-hoc manner” in which the Ministry of Education is being managed.

    This call came on the heels of a circular that was sent to the unions from the Ministry of Education on Wednesday, requesting a meeting this week with all the teachers.

    “The letter to unions caused concern for teachers who are now wondering if the new date suggested for the Common Entrance Examination now means that they will be in school three weeks more to the end of July, as opposed to early in the first week of July as is the custom. They are also concerned that after scant respect was shown in consideration of a mid-term break, time will now be added on to Term 3 as well; and parents have no idea how to plan ahead,” the statement read.

    The statement also noted that the party strongly calls for the there to be a slight return to the traditional delivery of education, however, there are a few things coming out of the correspondence that are of concern to them.

    Chief among these concerns are: when the school year for 2021 to 2022 will begin; why nothing was done about the Common Entrance Examination even though COVID-19 provided the perfect time to focus on this topic; and what of the monitors that were sent into schools in September, and whether it is true that they were engaged on contract for one year and paid every two weeks since December, even though schools were not in session.

    The DLP believes that education is far too vital to be treated with such “scant respect”.

    “COVID-19 provided a perfect opportunity to effect a total reform in this sector, but to date all we continue to hear is of a committee set in place and led by a former Deputy Chief. Yet there has been not one meaningful engagement to discuss reform,” the statement said.

    “Our children are our future and they deserve better. The effects of our inability to take action during this pandemic will be far-reaching. It is high time Minister Bradshaw step up to the task or step down!”

    Source: Barbados Advocate

  7. Schools forced to embrace technology
    by DONNA SEALY THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, undoubtedly the biggest health crisis worldwide, continues to affect many aspects of our lives including education.
    After recording the first case of COVID-19 a year ago, one of the measures Government implemented to tackle the crisis and limit movement to curb the spread was to close schools and switch to virtual classrooms.
    For more than two decades, there has been talk about reforming Barbados’ education system to include new modalities for teaching and learning, integrating technology in the classroom, plus the way Class 4 primary school students move to secondary school.
    Now is as a good time to bell that cat.
    But while the country’s education system has firmly entered the digital age albeit in the third decade of this millennium, the online module further exposed the inequalities that exist in society while showing that many households lacked food, electricity, and Internet.
    Despite the donation of hundreds of devices from charities, businesses, and individuals in Barbados and the diaspora, there is still a deficiency of devices to facilitate the teaching and learning a year later. It remains one of the biggest deficits to accessing online classes.
    It is worth repeating that the lack of devices and consistent Internet connectivity were two of the major challenges outlined by primary and secondary school principals at the start of the shortened Trinity term last May, commonly referred to as the “exam term”.
    As concerns mounted regarding students’ ability to sit the 11-Plus and Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exams in the midst of the pandemic, Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, her team of officers along with key stakeholders, came up with a blended format – face to face for those sitting 11-Plus and CXC exams and online for others.
    The return to physical classes meant strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols for students, teachers, auxiliary staff, and visitors. Wearing masks, temperature checks, hand sanitising, physical distancing, and frequent handwashing became the norm.
    Principals, teachers, students, parents, and guardians – some of whom had returned to work – did their best to adapt to virtual classes and life went on despite the challenges.
    While the parents of Class 4 students were readying them for secondary school after obtaining their 11-Plus results, the release of the CXC’s results – mainly CAPE – were met with anger and protests in Barbados and across the region.
    In light of the pandemic, CXC modified its CSEC, CAPE and CCSLC exams. Candidates, except those taking modern languages, visual arts, and human and social biology – which had Paper 2 as customary – were assessed on school-based assessments and multiple choice or Paper 1.
    Fast forwarding to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year in September, schools reopened using a blended and hybrid formats that allowed students to attend face-to-face and online classes on varying days of the week which they had indicated to the Education Minister they wanted.
    Apart from The Ellerslie School closing for 14 days in October after two students who were part of a cluster tested positive for COVID-19, school continued without disruption for the most part, until the end of the term in December.
    However, as the end of 2020 neared, the number of positive cases began to rise again, and Government imposed restrictions to limit movement and spread. When the Hilary term started in January, and with community spread being declared, classes resumed fully online and will remain until the term ends on March 31 for students and April 1 for teachers.
    One of the downsides to online school is that it’s leading to stress and anxiety among teachers and students. Mental health professionals are reporting students miss that classroom interaction with peers and friends and the lack of activity from being at school. They are finding it difficult to cope and now, more than ever, they said mental breaks are needed.

    Source: Nation

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