Red Bay candidate Samuel Jackson argued for creating an independent authority to oversee the education system and expressed support for opening public schools to children of all nationalities and abilities.
Jackson made his comments on the Cayman Crosstalk radio show on Wednesday. His opponent, incumbent Alden McLaughlin, declined to attend.
McLaughlin participated in an earlier candidates forum hosted by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.
Jackson said there is “legislative dysfunction” built into the Education Law, where a Minister of Education delegates power to an advisory Education Council, and with a Department of Education Services that works for both the Council and the Ministry while receiving instructions from the Ministry’s Chief Officer.
“It’s no wonder that they can’t get anything done. We need to fix that and we need to fix it quickly,” Jackson said.
He recommended creating a central educational regulatory authority, governed by a board that includes educators as well as people who don’t have “a political agenda but who are focussed on improving the education system in this country”.
Jackson said, “If we can achieve that in the first 100 days, we will then be taking a giant step forward, in my humble opinion.”
Asked on his views about re-integrating the school system, Jackson said he recently attended a breakfast fundraiser for Inclusion Cayman and was convinced of the need to integrate children with special needs into the schools, for the benefit of all students.
“The epiphany was, ‘Wait a minute. We should do that across the board.’” he said.
He said Cayman is too small of a community to separate different elements of society.
Jackson said, “We need to have an inclusive mindset across the board, and it starts in the schools, and it should start very early, too. So I would definitely support that initiative.”