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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, December 4, 2023


The fact that 99 percent of the territory's public school students felt they could ignore authority by not showing up for school on J'ouvert morning is appalling.
The fact that their parents apparently were willing collaborators is even more appalling. In fact, it's downright frightening.
What does it mean, and what does it say about the Virgin Islands as a society?
Everyone likes to "get away" with something once in awhile – thwart the system. But these same children already had a full day and a half off for Carnival and four full days off earlier in the month for Easter. These same children missed school after hurricanes in September. And these same children consistently score at the very bottom of the heap when tested against their peers elsewhere.
The issue, however, is bigger. And we really aren't sure what it means. Is it a lack of respect? For whom? For what? Lack of respect for school officials? Or lack of respect for the governor, who has been trying to send a clear message that we need to change if we are going to save ourselves?
Is it a lack of respect for themselves? What are we saying about ourselves when we just don't show up?
Certainly, it shows how little value we as a society place on education – both on the students' part and their parents'. And that will come back to haunt us when these same youngsters can't compete in a 21st century world, and are left behind by those with better educations and better skills.
We think it's time for our community to take stock of its values – and take responsibility for the abysmal state we're in, financially, educationally and spiritually. And we ought to start by thinking about what we're teaching our children, in words and in deeds.

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