Letter to the Editor: Vice Principal’s parting words to Chuuk State School system

The intent of this letter is to issue my formal resignation of employment from the Chuuk State School System, effective June 19, 2017— But, my hope for this letter is that it ignites a passion amongst my Chuukese friends, both in Chuuk and outside of Chuuk, to stand up and fight for yourselves and your children to have access to a great education. I have been working in Chuuk since 2013, and for the last 2 years, I have been Vice Principal at Chuuk High School. I am not resigning because of my salary or because of the intense heat or because the slow internet. I am leaving because the Chuuk Department of Education is actively stopping the education of children.
The Department that is supposed to support schools is stripping schools of resources, corrupting the use of funds, “losing” paper work, and actively pushing out individuals who desire to see Chuukese children get an education.
I have watched the “reform” of Chuuk Education for 4 years now, and I can honestly say that education as a whole is worse now than it was 4 years ago. Millions upon millions of dollars have been dedicated to “fixing” the education system, but in reality, those dollars have mostly been used to buy favors for the “political elite” and Chuuk State Department of Education employees at the cost of Chuuk’s children. The idea that money is being misused is known by almost all Chuukese, but I am not sure that all Chuukese know the scale to which it is happening, and what it means for their children’s future. I want to be very clear that there is plenty of money available to fund an amazing education system in Chuuk (there is plenty of money for new schools, teachers’ raises, supplies, and training), but the truth is almost none of the money is actually spent in a real way to improve the system.
My experience as an administrator at Chuuk High School showed me that the root of the corruption, and the major factor opposing Chuuk’s children receiving a great education is the Chuuk Department of Education (CDOE) and the Chuuk State Board of Education. CDOE has not provided contractually obligated raises to teachers, but they give themselves raises. They are not fixing the toilets at elementary schools, but they are renovating their air conditioned offices. They are not providing real, applicable training for teachers and principals, but they take almost weekly trips to the other states. They will not approve funds for Chuuk High School to repair their school buses, but they buy themselves $25,000 cars, and give their previous government vehicles to their relatives. They will not provide proper funding for electricity to Chuuk High School, but they are never without power in their offices. They do not pay leave when it is properly submitted, but they take weeks off at a time with zero consequence. Most students do not have a chair to sit in, but the CDOE has brand new furniture. Schools are left without electricity, technology, or supplies of any kind, but the department has countless computers, printers, toner, ink, pens, paper and resources. The Chuuk State Board of Education, the group responsible for overseeing the CDOE is a travesty. Administrators, teachers, and myself have begged for their assistance, but they have done nothing. They are the largest disappointment and ultimately responsible for the terrible system.
They talk big, but never take action. By never taking action, they are collaborating with the easily visible corruption occurring. Several of the board members say they know about the corruption within the CDOE, but they do nothing. They know schools are not receiving necessary funding for supplies and needs, but they do nothing. They know that employees at the CDOE are depriving the children of an education, but they do nothing. For 2 years, I have fought for the education of your children. I have fought harder for them than I have ever fought for anything in my life, but I have learned I am unable to change the system as an outsider. I have learned that in order for Chuukese to get a great education, it is the Chuukese parents that must stand up and say it is time to end the corruption. It is time for you to tell the system to stop making excuses—make change.
I wish to end this letter by acknowledging the teachers, staff members, and Principal, Jason Reigon, of Chuuk High School. Chuuk High School is one of the only true beacons of hope for Chuuk Education, and I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing staff. The teachers, faculty, and administrators of Chuuk High School actually care about the children of Chuuk, and they try every day through whatever means available to help your children. To each of you, thank you for fighting every day for the children of Chuuk. I will miss all of you and pray for you daily to stay strong in the battles ahead.
Sincerely, Andrew Shelton Vice Principal, Chuuk High School

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