This letter is part two of the dialogue about my first term with the Virgin Islands Board of Education. As the first letter explained, the Board has member-relation challenges, and in some instances, members create challenges.
Civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis said, "when you see something that is not right, you have a moral obligation to speak up". "We must all participate in the democratic process." The actions and lack of action of the Board members have consequences on the operation of the agency.
1. Members will not fly with the airline that cost less and has a VIBE account.
2. Members will not stay at the hotel that cost less and has a VIBE account.
3. Members have restrictions for meeting days and hours.
4. A former Chair collected $1000.00 in stipends biweekly for "chairperson’s responsibility" making daily visits to the board office.
5. Few Members write the report required after attending a national conference. A member attended three Board meetings of the twenty held, but the member attended the national conferences.
6. The VIC Title 1, section 174a states Virgin Islands Board of Education shall celebrate Teachers’ Day annually the first Friday in May, making a suitable award to a "Teacher of the Year, St. Croix" and a "Teacher of the Year St. Thomas-St. John." Instead, the Board attends the DOE’s Teachers of the Year celebration.
At national conferences, Members network and promote the territory. Conference ID badges read St. Thomas, VI, regardless of the member’s residence because VIBE main office is in St. Thomas. Now, Member’s district is specified when making conference registrations. Members are elected by electoral districts; therefore, the distinction is important.
The 17th Virgin Islands Board of Education closed with great advancement in its service to educators and students. The new VIBE website is attractive, user friendly, informative and convenient. The application for Financial aid and the application for Certification may now be completed online. The website improved the processes for applicants and staff. Visit www.myviboe.com
I have been most candid with this report, praying you will understand it’s past time to be complacent and accept mediocrity. Virgin Islanders must make education a priority. Virgin Islanders must hold the Board accountable. The Board should demand the territorial program for four-year olds. The authority of the Board of Education is significant. The Board certifies educators, and the importance of the quality of teachers cannot be overstated. The Board determines the courses students are taught. The Board should demand that students learn of the greatness of black men and black women. The more our children learn of great black people, the more they will believe in their own greatness.
I hope to encourage the 18th Board to lead an evidence-based approach to comprehensive education reform. Education reform is most relevant in the Year of the Centennial of a possession of the United States of America, and community involvement is critical for successful reform. The Virgin Islands community must decide "what should be the role of education in the Virgin Islands of the United States to meet the demands of globalization." The public education system must teach and prepare our children for sustainable development of the Virgin Islands of the United States.
The new management team at the VI Board of Education is Emmett Hansen, the Associate Executive Director in St. Croix, and Debra Gottlieb, the Executive Director in St. Thomas. On Saturday, January 21st, the Members of the 18th Board elected STX Member Winona Hendricks, Chairperson of the VI Board of Education, Arah Lockhart is Vice Chair, and Judy Gomez is Secretary.
I shall serve on the School Plant and Facilities Committee; Policies, Rules, and Regulations Committee and an Ad Hoc Scholarship Committee.
Mary L. Moorhead, St. Croix district VIBE member