Tattooed teachers lash Education Minister
Brave teachers sporting tattoos across the island have fired back at Education Minister Ruel Reid following controversial comments he made recently.
Earlier this week, Reid urged school administrators to scrutinise persons and check for tattoos before hiring them.
However, his view has not gone down well with some teachers, some of whom already have tattoos. Christine Jack*, a high-school teacher, has a tattoo on one of her breasts, another on her finger, and she is considering getting another.
The rural Jamaican teacher, who has dedicated 10 years to the profession, said she got the tattoos years before her career began.
“We’re all humans, and outside of the classroom, we have a life. My tattoos are sometimes visible if I’m too ‘pumped up’, or if I’m not wearing an under-blouse,” she admitted, noting that the tattoos do not prevent her students from learning or lessen their respect for her.
She also told THE WEEKEND STAR that she has helped to significantly improve the grades of the students she has taught, many of whom are slow learners.
These views were supported by Vice-President of Academic Affairs at The Mico University College, Carol Clarke, who told THE WEEKEND STAR that aspiring teachers that visibly sport tattoos are not turned away, as the school is not “operating in a vacuum.”
“I think this discussion on teachers sporting tattoos is irrelevant. What about their character, attributes, passion, or lack of passion? That is what the Ministry should be focused on,” she said.
The minister’s position has not deterred Brittany Black*, a final-year student at the Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College, who has her daughter’s name tattooed across her back. She said teachers in training are not allowed to visibly sport tattoos, and if given the choice she would certainly get another one.
In the case of Olivia Brown*, she has been a teacher for 18 years and she has two tattoos, a small one on her right leg, and a more pronounced tattoo on her left leg, and they are usually covered.
As a teacher of the social sciences, Brown said her students got marks ranging from the high 70s to the 90s. Therefore, instead of paying attention to tattoos, she stressed that Reid should police the actual work done by teachers.
“I’d like to say to the minister that a teacher’s intellect, ability to care, and dedicate themselves to the profession has nothing to do with the ink print, colour, and pattern on the skin, it’s a personal choice. Teaching is what you do, not who you are,” she said.
Another tattooed teacher reporting high grades is Rena Williams*, who stressed that her decision to get a tattoo is a personal one and should not concern the minister.
“The minister needs to find more striking matters such as lack of resources in schools, building more schools, and lack of space and leave people’s personal lives alone,” she told THE WEEKEND STAR.
* Names changed