Moseley, chair of the Coalition advisory board and president and CEO of the Academy for Educational Development. "It is not a luxury that can be addressed at some point in the future, but rather it provides people with the tools to survive and improve their lives" (Basic Education Coalition 2004). There is no one magical, quick fix solution to Bermuda's dropout problem. The problem is complex and requires a complex array of solutions. It is the intent of this paper to study the scope of this hidden crisis, the poor dropout and graduation rates of Bermuda's Public High School System, by reviewing the most recent and accurate data on graduation and dropout rates, exploring the reasons that young people drop out of school, and presenting the most promising models for helping high school students graduate with their peers.
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, scholarly and governmental literature to develop the requisite background and overview of the current public and private educational services provided in Bermuda, a discussion of dropout prevention and graduation rates,
Background and Overview.
Today, Bermuda has the third highest per capita income in the world; in fact, the island's per capita income is more than 50% higher than the United States (Bermuda, 2008). Bermuda also invests in its educational system to the extent of 1.2% of its gross national product (Bermuda). Moreover, the history of education in Bermuda is nearly as old as the territory itself. For instance, according to Bernhard (1999), "Puritanism, with its strong emphasis on Bible reading, was almost certainly responsible for the early concern for religious instruction and public education in Bermuda. In 1622, when the colony was scarcely a decade old, Governor Nathaniel Butler ordered all the tribes to keep birth, marriage, and death records and to set aside time on the Sabbath for the religious instruction of children" (p. 43). One local authority reports that, "Government grants for primary education began in 1816. The government educational system of today derives, however, from the Schools Act 1879 and is based on the traditional British pattern" (Forbes, 2008, p. 7).
Clearly, the four centuries that have passed since the territory's discovery have witnessed some profound changes to the educational system in Bermuda. According to one local observer, "Bermuda is a tiny island of only 21 square miles or 56 kilometers in total land area. The educational system here is completely independent of the systems of any foreign country such as the United Kingdom, USA or Canada or beyond" (Forbes, 2008, p. 2). The Education Act 1949 established the right of all children within what was then the compulsory school age (7 to 13) to receive free primary education" (Forbes, 2008, p. 7). By 1969, the compulsory school age had been expanded to 5 to 16 years and all children within that age are entitled to free primary and secondary education (Forbes). The Bermudan Education Act was amended in 1985 to entitle children to remain in secondary school up to the age of 19 years in order to complete the secondary program (Forbes).
The Bermudan population is relatively homogeneous and the island's small population has created some unique challenges for educators and parents alike. As Forbes emphasizes, "Unlike in far larger countries with significant multi-cultural populations and cultural and educational facilities and laws and faculties to match, no laws or facilities of any kind exist (because there is no or insufficient demand for them) in Bermuda for non-English-speaking children to be taught while at school in any language other than English" (p. 3). In this environment, it may not be all that surprising that the public educational system has languished in recent years, and there is a growing consensus that the citizens of Bermuda and their children deserve far better for their tax dollars. A review of current public private and public high school facilities available in Bermuda is provided below.
Public and Private High School Facilities in Bermuda Today.
Notwithstanding the foregoing constraints, Bermuda enjoys a number of high-quality institutions of learning, particularly in the private sector; while this is not vastly different than the situation faced by many other nations, it is clear that the public sector is failing to engage a number of high school students who become disillusioned, frustrated or impatient with their progress in school. According to Forbes, "Public education in Bermuda at Bermuda Government owned or maintained schools is conducted by accredited and qualified teachers who must be certified by the Bermuda Government and are members of the Bermuda Union of Teachers" (p. 5). According to Bermuda's Ministry of Education & Development governs a public school system which includes two senior secondary schools, five middle schools, 18 primary schools, 12 preschools, two special schools and a junior college. There are also several private schools in Bermuda. Some 62% of Bermuda's children go to public schools, while 36% go to private schools.
Taxpayer-funded, unlike private schools which are not. The mission of Government-owned or maintained schools, also known in Bermuda as public schools, is the provision of an environment in which each student may develop academic, practical and physical skills; practice critical and creative thinking; exemplify aesthetic, social, moral and spiritual values which characterize a secure, self-confident individual who is capable of constructive participation in the community and effective functioning in an age of change, with life-long, self-directed learning.
The government system comprises a number of primary schools, access to which is determined mainly on the basis of proximity of residence to a school. The system at secondary level consists of a fewer number of schools, is selective and is divided between academic and general schools. Principals of the secondary schools select pupils on the basis of performance in an examination taken at the end of the primary school stage and of parental preference. Technical and prevocational education is provided in the general secondary schools. Provision is also made for the education of children with special needs in six special schools, which have been in operation for more than 20 years, and in special program classes, which have operated for more than 10 years, in regular primary and secondary schools. Special education provides a continuum of services appropriate to the range of special needs of the students concerned. Free education is provided in a number of pre-schools for four-year-old children.
Curriculum guides at all levels have been in place for several years. At the pre-schools, the curriculum objectives are related to social, cognitive and motor development, as well as to language, mathematics, social studies and science. The Government has restructured the educational system in order to remove selectivity from the secondary level and to provide equal access to the curriculum for all students. The system has three levels -primary, middle and senior secondary (Forbes).
The Bermuda College, which was incorporated by the Bermuda College Act 1974, offers opportunities for higher education in liberal arts, business studies, hotel administration and technology. The College, a publicly funded institution, provides a two-year university transfer program which enables qualified students to enter the third year of a four-year institution in North America. The two-year diploma has been accepted as the equivalent of "A" levels in the United Kingdom and enables students to enter the first year of selected universities there. The College operates a Faculty of Adult and Continuing Education which enables persons already in the workforce to upgrade their skills. The Adult Education School, a private institution which receives a government grant through the Bermuda College, provides a means by which those who have not gained secondary school certification may do so through the General Education Development (GED) program developed in the United States. The Government operates an extensive financial aid scheme to assist students seeking higher education in institutions outside Bermuda. A satisfactory academic performance and demonstration of financial need are two of the principal criteria for the receipt of such aid. In addition, there are Bermuda Government Scholarships based on academic merit and commitment to the teaching profession (Forbes).
All teachers in the government schools are eligible for membership in the Amalgamated Bermuda Union of Teachers, which negotiates salaries and conditions of service. All principals in government schools are eligible for membership in the Association of School Principals, which similarly represents their interests. Programs of professional development, salaries and conditions of service for teachers and principals have been continually improved. Negotiations on these terms of employment take place every two years and their outcome is confirmed in published agreements with the Government (Forbes).
The Attorney General advised a meeting in late March 2007 that Bermuda's public education system needed dramatically restructuring from pre-school to the senior level. Local educators claim Bermuda's public, or government, school students lag two years behind public school students of the U.S.A. In English and Mathematics. Senator Philip Perinchief, a former teacher, said at least three public high schools were needed on the Island in the east, west and central parishes,…