Eleven (11) school principals and one hundred ten (110) teachers from twelve (12) public schools, including Palau High School, signed an 8-page letter of complaint over the implementation of the new initiatives pushed by the Minister of Education, Dr. Dale Jenkins.
The educators’ letter’s primary concern is not with new initiatives but how they are initiated and implemented. “Please allow us to remind you of your new initiatives, which you informed us of during the summer of last school year, and some of the things that you are doing, which we feel are not professional,” states the letter.
Central to the complaint is the lack of involvement of stakeholders in the decision-making of major education policy decisions, lack of planning and preparation for the new initiatives, and poor communication with teachers, parents, and principals on the initiatives.
The complaint cites that the new initiatives are not aligned with the Ministry of Education Master Plan, MOE School Rules and Regulation Handbook and that the pushing of the new initiatives is “not done professionally.”
One such initiative, the “Admin Plus Gradebook,” an electronic grade book, was just introduced in a meeting before the school year began. “We didn’t hear anything about Admin Plus Gradebook until recent weeks. During these past few weeks, you sent several Admin Plus Grade Book websites without any direction as to what we were supposed to do,” claimed the letter.
The letter claimed that in the several short meetings on google meet or zoom, the Minister was always in a hurry, and there was no time to ask questions. “If one is lucky enough to ask a question, your answer would be, what is it that you don’t understand with a tone of voice that closes doors for more question//and or comments,” again the letter alleges.
Most of the teachers and principals, according to the letter, “have no idea on how to go about using the Admin Plus Gradebook,” and the “majority of parents are not aware of this new system.”
“Most schools still do not have access and do not know how to use or get into Admin Plus Gradebook system, and you keep insisting that it is easy and we should start implementing it,” the letter claimed.
Criticism of the new initiatives, New Grading Scale, AR (Accelerated Reading), BE ABLE, School Zoning, Changing of school hours, Kindergarten/1st Grade, Intersessions and IOWA Assessments, cites poor communication, lack of engagement of stakeholders, insufficient training, poor planning and insufficient time between the introduction of a new initiative, preparation, and implementation.
“There is ZERO GENUINE COMMUNICATION! Having 20 minutes meetings through google or zoom, one-way street communication, emailing and not responding to any emails, not letting anyone express their thoughts, and never having time to Listen..This is not communication,” denounced the letter.
Minister Jenkins, in response to a question at last week’s press conference, confirmed that he had just received the letter that morning and was not prepared to respond at that time but said that based on what he had seen, he had a different opinion.
“As far as the initiatives that have started, I have a very different picture than most people,” responded Minister Jenkins. Regarding the AR program, he said he had requested that staff or student volunteers go through their school libraries and use the computer program to identify the reading levels of the books so that when they are picked up for reading, teachers know the reading level. “Apparently, that was not received very well,” said Jenkins of the instruction to label book reading levels.
Educators were directed to websites that provided training sessions for teachers and principals on the Accelerated Reading program (AR). The letter claimed that nothing on those websites provided training; rather they provided testimonials on how AR impacted their students. Furthermore, it said teachers and principals are still confused about accessing and using the AR Program, which is already part of the school’s daily schedule.
At the September 14th press conference, Minister Jenkins said he would take some time to review the complaint and see how to respond to it. Island Times reached out for a response but did not get one in time for this publication.