Gauntlet thrown down to Protestant community

LETTER: From A Protestant (name and address submitted).

I should like to draw the attention of your readers to some of the comments from the controlled sector, which appeared in the local papers last week, on the proposals for the future of education in the maintained sector in the Craigavon area.

If your readers study these comments carefully they will notice that once again the main focus is on the needs of the grammar schools, and the other schools whose needs are a very much greater, are totally ignored.

While I accept that there is an underlying political motive in these proposals, nevertheless, the nationalist community has come up with a plan that is innovative, that meets the needs of the 21st century, treats all their children with equal respect and moves their community forward, while the controlled sector continues to languish in the past.

Those in positions of leadership in our community have been warned repeatedly that change was coming and we need to take ownership of it, or it would be taken out of our hands. We can’t continue to resist change - it has arrived! We have to make up our minds if we are going to shape it, or will others who have a political agenda shape it? Are we going to take a lead, or play catch-up?

Those in the controlled sector who have continued to resist change have put the Dickson Plan at risk. They were advised consistently that the best way to preserve the Dickson Plan was to institute change on their terms. Instead, in their arrogance, and by their intransigence, they have compromised their position, and now have the very real possibility of having change forced on them. In response they are calling on all of us to muster and defend their position.

Why would parents who had, or have, children at Craigavon High School rally round that? They are entitled to ask what they are buying in to? Do they seriously want to maintain a system that treats their children with such scant respect, and burden more children with the same culture of neglect?

Yes let us save the Dickson Plan, but let us adapt it to meet the needs of all our children and treats them with equal dignity and respect. It has failed to do this in the past, and that has been its glaring weakness. By producing this plan on the way forward for their community, the maintained sector has ‘thrown down the gauntlet’ to the Protestant community to stop standing with a begging bowl, and produce a strategic plan on the way forward for our community. Only time will tell if they are up to it.

The scandal of Craigavon Senior High School has been ignored for far too long, and while it was not the intention of the architects of the plan for the maintained sector, they may well have forced the hand of those in the Protestant community who continue to turn a blind eye. If it doesn’t, then they have no shame, and the majority of our children will continue to suffer their neglect.