ONLINE READERS COMMENT: JTA needs teachers not PNP warriors, Mrs Waugh-Richards

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Dear editor,

For a very long time, the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) has worked as an extension of the People's National Party (PNP) especially to antogonise and bring down a Jamaica Labour Party JLP government. Many people watching the JTA over the years have watched in disbelief as the organisation lost its focus and became nothing more than just a political tool in the hands of the PNP.

During that time, the standard in education plummeted. Less and less of our children were actually getting a good education while the JTA continued its political activism.

But something changed recently under President Waugh-Richards, when the teachers were to get their payments from the government but the political arm of the JTA — the leadership — refused the offer; and all hell broke loose in the rank and file of the JTA.

The leadership suffered an ignominious defeat and had to relent. Waugh-Richards and her team got a wake-up call from the rank-and-file who, at least on that issue, were not prepared to take the bull from the leadership anymore. That was a great thing and can only be good for this country.

It seems Waugh-Richards is still hopping mad about been trimmed down to size by the JTA rank-and-file. At her outgoing speech at the JTA Conference, she unloaded on teachers she saw as traitors. What was their crime? They put the children they are supposed to care for in front of politics. In her angry ranting, she accused teachers of taking children and teaching them under trees outside even when the gates were padlocked.

Seriously? She should be absolutely ashamed of herself, and it shows quite clearly what is wrong with the JTA. The JTA should be focused on improving the lot of our children through giving them a sound education, and because some teachers took that duty seriously, she is calling them traitors? This is absolutely shocking. Yet not surprising.

She didn't just stop there. She told teachers that the JTA needs warriors. Seriously? What the JTA needs is teachers, not warriors. You can't teach children math and English when the mindset is to go to war. Waugh-Richards seems to be angry because she couldn't carry on the tradition of sticking up the government and robbing tax payers of their hard earn money because the PNP told her to do so as they did in the past. That's what she is mad about.

Teachers who went to work and refused to be backed in a corner because of politics should be applauded. One of them should now be elected JTA president.

If we ever hope to transform education, the JTA must also be transformed. And that begins by electing people who actually have an interest in education and not politics. It's time to reject the Waugh-Richards' of the past and move towards a more constructive, and well thought out, partnership-based approach to the education of this nation. It's now time to get rid of the embarrassment in the JTA leadership. Remember, teachers it's not you who benefit when these JTA heads go into party politics, it's only their pockets that are lined. Fabian Lewis

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