Short skirts metaphor of wider indiscipline
THE EDITOR, Sir: I write in response to the editorial of The Gleaner of Monday, September 22, 2014, titled 'The commissars of skirt lengths'. Underlying your commentary on the situation at José Martí High School, where the dean of discipline has insisted that the girls' skirts be 11 inches below the knee, is a tone of incredulity and mockery.
I believe that in order to understand the context that many principals are dealing with in the secondary schools, journalists should spend some time in the system in order to appreciate the culture of lawlessness that many students, supported by their parents, bring into schools.
It is the lawlessness that pervades our society that results in the poor work ethic that bedevils our attempts at productivity. Our people must be socialised to understand that in order for any institution or organisation to progress, there must be respect for the rules and guidelines that govern such entities. It is in the school that this education begins.
When students enter the schools with a set of norms learnt in a society that is highly undisciplined, it becomes even more difficult to change their mindset. Therefore, the situation at José Martí seems to reflect such an attempt to get the students to understand that they must take the rules of the school seriously.
Furthermore, I do not think the comparison of Campion and José Martí is a fair one. Parents at Campion support their children to achieve their best. Parents at Campion provide the environment and resources for their children to succeed. Parents at Campion can afford to pay high auxiliary fees that allow their children many benefits that most high schools in Jamaica cannot afford.
Campion benefits from the presence of students who are the top achievers at GSAT. Therefore, Campion must be able to send 100 per cent of its cohort to sit the CSEC examination and we must expect that they would receive top results. If that did not happen, there would have to be an investigation into the reason.
In comparison, at many high schools, parents cannot afford to give their children bus fare to attend school every day. Some cannot afford lunch money. For many students, a PATH lunch is the only meal they have for the day. Many do not have the requisite provision of a caring parent or a safe place to be.
Kindly be aware that many students who have not been signed up to do CSEC cannot afford to pay the fees. Others sign up for NCTVET or City & Guilds examinations. We need to understand the realities of our school situation in Jamaica and desist from the futile comparison of Campion with schools where many parents are non-supportive or non-existent.
I believe the editor should have reporters do a story on the family support that the students of José Martí receive and the family support that the students of Campion receive. Having done that, do a correlation between these realities and the outcome of the students at their external examinations, then comment on which school has added the greater value.
When we, as a nation, address our poor parenting practices and general lawlessness, we will have a situation where equity might begin to exist among the students of our high schools.
Former principal, Ardenne, Tarrant