From Friday June 14, 2019 Saipan Tribune, an excerpt of a column by John S. DelRosario, “Brawl: Just as I thought, PSS could easily resolve salary issues. An assertion by a former government lawyer explains why the system is without funds:
“The leadership used the increased budget to give themselves six-figure salaries. They lied to the voters and spent public money to do so,” he said. “PSS leadership is now forcing teachers to sign a contract surrendering pay or face termination.
“Furthermore, over the past few months, PSS leadership has threatened to fire any teacher who talks to anyone outside of PSS, including attorneys.” The slugfest was triggered by alleged misappropriation of resources. And leadership at PSS must contend resolving self-inflicted conundrum.
Another view says, “The board of education needs to take the lead in offering solution to the predicament generated by its own making and just now known to the public or to the PSS community such as the pay raises executed in 2017 for central office administration.
“It is time to shift the resources down to the schools and enable the school officials, teachers, parents, and the supportive community to make decisions at the school-community level. Time to decentralize authority and enhance accountability at the school-community level.” I couldn’t agree more!”
Doesn’t some of this behavior and claptrap policy sound positively ‘criminal’ to you readers? It is certainly hypocritical “in extremis” considering this sentence from a Monday June 10, 2019 CNMI PSS PR release in the Saipan Tribune, Commissioner of Education speaking, “The Public School System reaffirms its commitment that the children of this Commonwealth deserve the optimum educational opportunities for them to succeed, with the support of our dedicated public school staff and personnel.”
Where are the “ optimum educational opportunities” with the casting of fear of job loss to teachers if agreement to salary reduction is not accepted? Why did Tinian Junior Senior High school have no, get that? No on-site Science teacher for SY 2012-2013, SY 2013-2014, SY 2014-2015 while students took Science courses online by computer. That meant no field trips, no lab work in situ, and students told me it was often difficult to communicate with their online science teachers. For SY 2013-2014 there were never more than ten working computers in the computer room during the entire school year. Most of the computers were in disrepair the entire school year. Responsibility for computer repair was given to the HS Math and Physics teacher, a local CNMI resident, who had substantial responsibilities with his full classes in his own separate classroom. He left for the mainland who could blame him? The room was next to my classroom and it was hard to schedule time to get my classes in there. The principal at the time told me there was a complete science lab in a room in boxes waiting to be set up by a science teacher. A previous Tinian Junior Senior HS principal gave away a Federal Model Classroom Grant I had applied for and received to some PSS buddy over on Saipan. It included furniture specifically designed for computer use in the classroom. I happened to see it in the PSS Saipan central office by chance months later and found out what school it was headed to. I got a letter from my principal on Tinian to state what he had done with it in case the Feds came knocking wondering about the whereabouts of the grant and physical elements of that grant I had received for use in Tinian JR/SR HS.
There dear readers are some examples of lost and stolen “optimum educational opportunities” on Tinian alone. One has to wonder about the number of similar losses on Saipan given the large number of schools there. Say nothing of PSS Saipan Central office people making higher salaries with a BS degree over classroom teachers with one or more Masters degrees. As has been alluded to elsewhere fear of job loss prevents many teachers from speaking out (there is of course no union to defend them) and now the threat of job loss and their professional livelihood is out in the open with the teachers being forced or coerced to sign an agreement for a salary reduction. Yes, indeed there is a general atmosphere conducive for ‘not’ providing “optimum educational opportunities” to the CNMI PSS students. One has to wonder what the administration and teachers at NMC are telling their PSS bound teachers about the situation and their students concerns about future teaching careers at PSS? Where are the voices of protest from NMC education professors and administrators? Shame and ‘eskuelan eskandalu’ on the CNMI BOE and CNMI PSS.
I wholeheartedly agree with former AAG Charles E. Brasington’s comments in the Saipan Tribune on Monday June 10, 2019 where he requested the CNMI legislators to investigate the PSS leadership’s “illegal and morally reprehensible conduct.”
Joey “Pepe Batbon” Connolly