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Cuffie Leaving His Crease
Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2002

By Stephen Kangal MOM

Within one year of establishing his one and only Pentecostal Secondary School in Chase Village, the Rt. Reverend Pastor Cuffie deliberately stepped out of his crease to make a wild voop. He projected himself as an authority on the role and function of secondary denominational boards in his Newsday Column ( Sept.14, p.10) entitled, School Boards Must Not Be Intimidated.

This Pentecostal perspective by the pastor, stepping out of his league, is riddled with inaccuracies and non sequitur deductions that unnecessarily compromise the traditional editorial excellence associated with Newsday. This daily must vet the validity of the contents of its columnists more rigorously to maintain high standards of journalistic accuracy.

The holy pastor himself exuded a degree of arrogance that he attributed to officials of TUTA. Pastor Cuffie ascribed, quite unwittingly, the outstanding academic and other successes achieved hitherto by denominational secondary schools to the quality of school boards that administer on behalf of the respective churches these high performance-oriented schools. The membership of existing boards, in all humility, will want to distance themselves from and be wary of making or even associating with this outlandish, quasi- political nonsensical claim.

In his article Pastor Cuffie supported the ASJA Board for having adopted a "... legitimate position, policy or status..." when it is patently clear that:

• the ASJA Board breached existing contractual obligations concluded with the Ministry of Education which legally pre-empted it from locking out The Principal, the parents and even TUTA;

• the Teaching Service Commission will not and is not empowered to revoke the appointment or transfer Mrs. Ali for alleged breach of internal ASJA Board administrative procedures;

Where is the legitimacy of the ASJA Board that the pastor celebrates? Does the pastor know anything of the 1960 Concordat which is still in force and which regulates State-Church relations on secondary education via the denominational system?

Pastor Cuffie deliberately insulted the intelligence of his captive readership by erroneously stating that " The Board is the supreme body of the denomination’s education system…" and compounds this patent misrepresentation by supporting that Boards should continue to be "...involved in overseeing teachers’ functions and doing evaluations."

Boards are not the supreme authority, pastor. There are also several layers of Board bureaucracy in the denominational system of secondary education. Which Board does the pastor refer to in his fiction-based commentary? This is a monumental joke of no mean proportion that is knowingly misleading. The pastor’s editorial space courtesy of Newsday is being used and abused.

Boards recommend applicants for appointments to the posts of Principal, VP etc to the Teaching Service Commission. Synods/ the Catholic Church over-rule recommendations of Boards every day. Boards have no say in academic/curriculum matters that are the sole preserve of the Principal/Staff and the Ministry/Curriculum Supervisors. Boards have no locus standi in conducting performance appraisal/evaluation of either The Principal or the academic/technical staff. Teachers are in the sole employ of the GOTT and not subject to the jurisdiction of the respective Denominational Administrative Boards that are glorified, detached Board of Governors with no input in the day-to—day running/administration of secondary schools.

How can the goodly pastor, the nouveau arrive’ in terms of delivering secondary education, pontificate per incuriam about denominational education without a single reference to the Concordat or talking to tried, tested and experienced Catholics and Presbyterian Board members?

Let us re-live the harrowing lack of logic of the pastor’s monologue issued from the Chase Village pulpit to the effect that "…it’s the quality of the School Boards which will determine the quality of the school’s education… In fact it’s the School Board that would decide whether or not there is a school at all."

No pastor! The dedication and management skills of the principal and his motivated staff reinforced by the stable church- inspired learning ambience constitute the building blocks for success not the dubious quality of church- politics- constituted administrative boards. Some schools excel in spite of the composition of Boards consisting of members with no background in educational administration. School Boards are not the final authority of whether there will be a school or not. Furthermore, Mrs. Ali is not a Teaching Service Commission imposition on ASJA’s Girls’ College but one appointed on ASJA’s recommendation. I am amazed that the pastor can so easily sensationalize when he concludes quite illogically that "…this can evidently have devastating consequences in the future for all denominations and their schools".

Come on Ph. D Pastor Cuffie conduct a little research ahead of writing out of respect for Newsday’s discriminating readership and cease being deliberately and knowingly economical with the truth.

As one weaned on denominationalism in education effective 1945 to 1981 may I refer Pastor Cuffie, in all humility, to my Newsday’s commentary article of Friday 10 May p. 10 written on "Denominationalism in Secondary Education".

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