Working Under a School Owner’s Thumb

More than one international educator has found themselves working for a greedy business owner whose only focus is to extract maximum profits from his or her school. Some school owners know literally nothing about education, yet see it as a lucrative business scheme while at the same time elevating their supposed philanthropic and social profile in the community.

Directors, like teachers, have good reason to stay on the right side of their bosses. But, at what point is a school director simply the minion of a greedy owner or board of directors, or in the worst-case scenario, complicit in the money-oriented venture called a “school”?

I’ve worked at both for-profit and non-profit schools. Neither designation guaranteed the type of experience I would have. At one school, the director supported his teachers against powerful parents and a board focused on what could kindly be termed a ‘minimalist’ agenda. He had the fortitude to stand up for what he believed in and refused to be reduced to puppet status. In the end, this director’s allegiance to students, staff and high educational standards cost him his job.

Another school was a different story. This director was the proverbial mouthpiece and bearer of bad news concerning pay reductions, health insurance cuts, non-existent supplies, and non-reimbursed shipping allowances. He went so far as to insist teachers bend to powerful parents (aka: paying customers) who were demanding their lazy kids get the grades they were “paying” for. The staff lost respect for him, and many of us jumped ship. Here was a PhD in Education who had sold out for a buck and was reduced to being a referee merely wielding the ax of the owner’s expectations, demands and threats.

The international teaching arena is rife with business people selling a high-priced, third-class education cleverly disguised behind the aura of credentialed Anglo faces from the US and UK. It appears there are some school directors ready and willing to do their unconscious bidding. I’m sure others are not so willing, yet succumb to the need to make a living.

Have you worked for a greedy school owner? What did you learn from the experience? Any advice for your colleagues on how to deal with a director who is loyal only to a ruthless board or owner?

32 thoughts on “Working Under a School Owner’s Thumb

  1. Working with a greedy owner always leads to the following :
    – Lack of resources and technology in the school
    – It’s like pulling teeth to get the principal to purchase something decent for the school
    – Very limited professional development ( or none at all )
    – Dilapidated, unsafe buildings
    – If you look at the contract, there is always SOME sort of clause that allows the owner to receive money back from the teacher’s salary ( e.g. they “subsidize ” your rent, but you find out that the building is actually already owned by the owner and the rent you pay is coming from your pay cheque, back into his pocket ).


  2. So glad to read so many great comments from teachers. Makes me feel that I am not the only one who goes through this.

    In Asia as well, there are many scam international schools being operated by wealthy owners. I am also disappointed that the IB actually supports such schools. The owner of my previous school bribed the provincial government to get his license and furthermore, it was stated by the principal that if the owner gets wind of the fact that another international school may be starting, he will contact the people he knows in the provincial government and have this school shut down.

    I also agree with the fact the many of colleagues we work with are nothing but pathetic suck ups desperate for a job, which to them, they cannot get back home. They refuse to support teachers who would like to stand up and defend the rights of teachers in the school and in the end, they get kicked out of the school. Very sad indeed!

    Unfortunately I am once again discouraged with my present school. They lied about having a salary scale. When I approached the HR, she was very evasive and could not give me a straight answer. Now some of the other new teachers and I have realized that they pay the teachers different salaries, probably according the color of one’s skin!….

    This is why, I say that we expat teachers should unionize and at least have some representation that could help take up our case. As long as the school knows that they can abuse its teachers, who have no rights or nowhere to turn to, they will keep on abusing teachers and threatening them. Unionization is a just a means of ensuring fairness and justice for expat teachers who need somewhere to go, to get their side of the story heard and someone to arbitrate in their situation…in the long run, it can be beneficial for parents too…if the union is properly structured and organized.

    I would be interested to know if BBC or CNN can do a feature story on expat teachers and the abuse and injustice they experience abroad…also feature articles in reputable newspapers…I think,that in some ways we need to expose this but of course, we must make sure that teachers who contributing remain anonymous and are protected.

    What about the Human Rights Commission or the International Labor Organization?……does anyone know what their stance on this is?…how could we find this out?


    1. IB needs to take a fair share of the blame for the situation with the explosion of fraudulently run For-Profit schools that have opened recently in Asia.

      I have written elsewhere on this website about the tax problems at my current school, and how the school maintains two sets of tax records.

      The teachers live in fear that the government tax will show up one day and find us individually liable for a huge tax bill.

      This school recently became an IB candidate school. The school freely advertises this fact among prospective parents who love the IB brand name more than their I-phones.

      My school is not the only school that IB seems to be accepting with open arms without regard to legalities. The internet is full of stories about schools with IB tags which do not cater to the needs of the community.


  3. I ‘ve worked at an International School in Heiligenhaus, Germany it was the worst experience of my life. I strongly feel that the Ministery of Education and the IB are responsible for these scam schools from operating. the IB knowingly continues to support these scam schools because they are generating an income for the IB. The Ministry of education in Germany does not have any laws that regulate private schools so what ends up happening is just about anyone can open a school


  4. I have worked for “bad” schools (great kids, though) and made the most of it. Finally chose not to renew my contract and will be much more careful next time. Maybe a true international teachers union is too extreme. What about an association or guild that has a standard code of ethics and standard contract? The guild would work to educate employers about ethical standards and the members could use their own contract instead of the one-sided contracts that we often sign now. The guild could also support members (with legal advice, etc.) and help to resolve issues without resorting to heavy-handed tactics like all-out strikes, etc.The guild might also have a list of schools to avoid. I have seen this work quite effectively for freelance illustrators and graphic designer in the USA.


  5. trav45: Ill informed? YOu are deAD Wrong ON THIS ONE.? It is based on first hand experience. Teachers threatened with violence, others where money stolen? Contracts violated and worse? At least Psyguy is honest. I have also witnessed cowardly teachers turn their backs on their fellow colleagues and countrymen because they were scared and/or
    needed the money. We aren’t talking about the ethical for profit schools. They do exist. We are talkin about the real bad ones.


  6. As someone who has been an admin at a highly for profit school, I just want to say this. The big things in life, call them “fighting the good fight” will suck the life out of you and never stop taking. I have a doctorate, and the school had a nice compensation package for me. Did I make a difference in the school, nope not a bit, not even a little bit. The reality is I have bills to pay, and I took the money.


  7. Anonymous above…… may have seen abuses, we all have but generalizing to ¨warn¨teachers about unionizing internationally because a few unions in Germany is like saying all educators are overpaid,lazy whiners because a few teachers may be! This is a form of prejudicial non-thinking and doesn’t merit consideration.
    Unions do go overboard on occasion but in general they protect their members against the abuses we see in a large number of International schools. A serious, professional and collaborative syndical presence in schools can prevent problems from arising that far out-weight the ¨risks¨ that might arise as well.


  8. “If we really want to help the world of international education we MUST unionize.” If you want to see the promised land of teacher unions, try Europe. Especially try Hamburg. There you will see how a union protects its own members at all costs: the incompetent, the cruel and the abusive, and ignores the rights of children. There were two incidents last year where teachers were physically violent to students, and the union was four square behind these men. Hamburg may be the worst example of union excess – and they are proud of it too – but there are many other schools in Europe that are similar. Vienna, Copenhagen, Amsterdam…be careful what you wish for.


  9. I worked in two “for profit” school in the middle east. I loved my students in Kuwait (I’m a special needs teacher) and had great parents, but that was certainly restricted to my kids! I also worked with Student Council and was APPALLED at the attitude of the kids AND their parents. The grade changing, the bribery, the threats . . . I refused to sign my report cards because NOWHERE did it say “Special Needs” or “Modified Program” and they wanted me to give letter grades – HIGH letter grades, of course! The managing group changed twice while I was there, and each time it was chaotic, and things got WORSE not better! Teachers had no rights and were treated like dirt – not by the principal or superintendent, but by the directors and the company.

    In the UAE I worked at a brand new school. Many teachers were not teaching in the areas or grade levels that they had been offered. We were lied to, didn’t have contracts, and when we demanded them they were NOT what we had originally agreed to. Benefits had been taken away, terms had been changed, they were FULL of threats, and most of us refused to sign them! THAT took them by shock. They actually called me (the suspected “ring leader”) into a meeting and tried to intimidate me. When that failed, they tried to suck up to me. When THAT failed, they just tried to ignore me! Generally, we were ALL treated like garbage!

    I am at a “not for profit” school in Malaysia now, and I LOVE IT!!! We are parent owned and governed, things run well, we have an amazing campus, and I couldn’t ask for better kids! Talk about night and day!!! All of the money gets pumped back into the school, and in my three years we have had new buildings built, old buildings refurbished, new covers put on our outdoor basketball courts and poolside. The focus is DEFINITELY on education, not profit! We have excellent results, and parents are happy with what we are doing.

    I’m for the non-profit, all the way!!!


    1. Would you mind passing the name of your current school in Malaysia along? I am currently living and working in Thailand, but am looking to move to Malaysia or Singapore. Cheers! 🙂


  10. I have worked in ” for profit ” schools on 3 continents for 25 + years . Some are better than others and the best can be better than many of the ” non profits ” . Something depends on the calibre of the Director . Something depends on the financial situation of the school , something depends on the mentality of the owners ( are they plain greedy ? power-mad ? willing to trust a professional educator ? ) and this can change eg. if there is a recession .

    What can you do about it ? Running to the airport at the first provocation is not in the best interests of your students ( the sign of a professional ) and may not be in your interests in the medium ( or even short !! ) term . Better to do the best that you can for your students while getting out with the best grace that you can . In this case if you can get a reference from a senior colleague it should speak to your professional commitment in the face of difficult circumstances .

    Also in the same way that you would love to know about where to avoid equally you owe it to everyone else to share what you know with everyone else through media like ISR .

    There are other ways of checking what you are getting into . By being a member of other professional networks eg. LinkedIn you have the opportunity to consult other people who have worked there . Better schools will even let you contact ( selected ? ) people who are leaving , it may not give the full story but you should ” read between the lines ” . Sometimes you can cross reference the record of a Director to their previous post . Whether they were good or evil is hardly likely to change much . If a school is a member of professional groupings eg. CIS , HMC then it gives you some sort of limited guarantee . Curriculum eg. IB also gives some comfort . However IGCSE gives rather less comfort . Externally examined results should be used with caution as they can be misleading eg. due to selective entry . The more information that a school makes PUBLICLY available ( and thus open to checking and criticism ) the less trouble you are likely to be walking into .

    Best of luck ,
    I just hope that someone can provide the info to help with my next move !


  11. “I am disgusted with these educators who participate in these wicked countries and schools. Call it what it really is mercenary education. And understand it for what it is. You are working to support a dictatorship in a country with no civil rights helping the rich and shameless of that country to continue their regimes.”

    Pretty strong and, in my opinion, ill-informed language. Do international schools cater to the power elite? Of course. But many also include the children of NGO workers, who are hardly rich! I’ve also worked at schools where, along with the rich, local parents of limited means sacrificed quite a bit to send their child to our school.

    Moreover, a true international school is the one place where students of “ruling class” parents hear a different, broad-minded, internationalist view concerned with issues of human rights, stewardship of the environment, etc. To make a blanket accusation that teaching these students enables repressive dictatorships is just flat blind, biased, and ignorant. It is often the best chance for providing future change.


  12. You must realize what kind of school you are in before signing the contract and then if you do decide to take a position in say, the Gulf States then you look at it from a mercenary perspective. If it is a for profit school in Kuwait for instance, which includes pretty much all schools in Kuwait, then you must understand that. Unfortunately, many expat educators are naive and find themselves in highly unethical positions. I learned the hard way.

    But @Winsome Peter you are correct!! If we really want to help the world of international education we MUST unionize. Otherwise we are just contributing to horrible and unjust scumbags who terrorize and exploit. I am disgusted with these educators who participate in these wicked countries and schools. Call it what it really is mercenary education. And understand it for what it is. You are working to support a dictatorship in a country with no civil rights helping the rich and shameless of that country to continue their regimes.

    I am suprise at @Soledad. People of color are horribly treated in the Gulf States. It is Legalized racism at best!


    1. Pretty strong opinion! The lack of equal rights and racism exist in many, if not most countries, NOT just the Gulf countries. Whether you are in a profit or non-profit school, at the end, of the day you are still teach the upper middle class and/wealthy citizens and expats of that particular country. It is what it is. You are “disgusted (with) these educators who participate in these wicked countries and schools.” Yikes…


  13. I have worked in Asia for 12 years and all the schools I worked for were exactly the same as described in the article. The tragedy is that some of the school directors themselves who become the owners’ puppets, are in the end also kicked out of the school. I have witnessed that and its very sad indeed. School directors who come from western countries also display greed, selfishness, and desperation just like the owners – I have never seen people who can become so racist, evil and wicked and treat teachers like dirt just because of the attractive package they receive from the owners who also turn against these school directors in the end. What you do to others, will come back to you….the motto here. Owners can offer you the world but are never to be trusted!

    I am now convinced that we need a very active international teachers union with representation in regions like Asia and the Middle East… which can represent and defend the rights of teachers. The presence of unions does make a difference. It is the absence of union representation, that gives evil school owners carte blanche over teachers and the total power and control to do as they please. For me, this is like modern day slavery, and I am shocked that we tolerate this today. Such a union is not difficult to set up. These issues have to be addressed and confronted at some point. I would like to connect with educators who believe this is possible and who would offer recommendations and any helpful advice as to how we can start this. Furthermore, this kind of corruption needs to be exposed in the media, in the press and on global television channels.

    Unfortunately many of the expat teachers in a school will bitterly complain, grumble and moan about the work conditions and the oppressive working conditions yet will do nothing to voice their opinions or stand up and speak out. We need to speak out together but sadly everyone on the staff will not stand united which gives evil school owners further advantage/power over the staff. If all of us, are always going to be afraid of losing our jobs and not speak up/out, then we must accept the status quo wherever we are based.

    If one looks at the history of our world, there were those voices who spoke out, against all odds that eventually got cruel and harsh systems/dictatorships changed in some nations – Martin Luther King Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela were a few of those. Places like Asia and the Middle East do not believe in unions which is why governments in these parts of the world will not allow them or support them. We need an external, active global teachers union to defend the rights of teachers – we need representative offices in these countries, where teachers can go to for help and defense. It is a challenge and may be difficult to set up but its not impossible!


    1. Yes, I agree, there are “schools” out there with no educational emphasis..diploma mills at best. But regardless, change is possible as long as you can work within the system. I do not agree with the idea of ” if you can’t take the heat get out”. I do believe if it needs changing, try to be that change.If you do nothing, for sure nothing will change. How can you sleep at night when you know its wrong and its bad for the students, too??
      And its not all about “culture”. It should be about best practices and helping students prepare for the future. If you are good at your job, work some place that allows your talent to impact lives. If you just want a paycheck, I don’t want to work with you and you are in the wrong field, regardless of where you are.


    2. Winsome Peter ……this dream of creating a worldwide professional teachers and maybe even administrators Union or Association is a noble and necessary prerequisite for promoting equality and fairness in International education. That said, after talking to numerous fellow educators(teachers/support staff), administrators, a few owners and Boards, as well as parents and students, the following challenges, among others, were evident:

      1) A large number of administrators came overseas to escape the restrictions and conflicts between them and Union-protected teachers. As one DG told me, ¨ Life is so much easier without the union!¨ Another said that, ¨ While I supported union rights at home, I would fear them and work against them overseas.¨ when I asked why, he said that teachers were better off without the adversarial relationship unions promoted in schools. Basically they don’t like having their hands ¨tied¨ as it were.
      2) Unions overseas often do not have the same democratic, socially responsible image they have back home. Sometimes they are totally prohibited in a country or they are so closely allied with one political view or another that they are basically considered to be political parties in disguise. Often there is absolutely NO tradition of unionized labour and the ¨worker¨ is ¨protected¨by the presumed beneficence of the ruling elite only, or worse still, like in Kuwait, is considered expendable and worthless outside their immediate use.
      3) Foreign or local parents do not often understand the purpose of a union and can easily be convinced ( by special interests) to see it as an unwelcome foreign intervention in their affairs. Their greatest fear is that the union will go on strike or work to rule and inconvenience the parents. This attitude is fostered by owners and Boards that promote an anti-syndicalist backlash.
      4) The few owners I spoke to eagerly gave lip-service to equitable treatment and fair working contracts but in actual fact, based on their performance, preferred an autocratic, unhindered application of their power at the expense of their employees. When asked to explain the dichotomy, they more or less said that their ideals had to be sacrificed for expediency and profit, implying that fairness and success were mutually exclusive!
      5) I met the most resistance from teachers themselves, who rightly maintained that, for such a project to succeed, the vast majority of overseas educators would have to be on-board and ready to bite the bullet to force positive change. None of them were willing to be sacrificed to the ideal of a union or to be on the picket lines standing up for their rights. I met this attitude 50% of the time and that is a terminal condemnation of syndical solidarity.
      6) Strangely enough, almost every student loved the idea of teachers having a union. They are very aware of the injustices and profiteering going on and hate the idea of this bullying, as much as they hate to be bullied. There was considerable rancour and dislike of the owners or Boards, who were often seen as the enemy. this is tragic since the idea of a union is not only to protect its members’ interests but to improve the quality and integrity of the entire educational community. Happy staff make for happy schools.
      Would such an effort to form an International Educators’ Union or Syndicate be practical or feasible? I personally am of mixed sentiments but it might be worth a go. Maybe we need to create a forum on ISR to see what response such a project would get? Are you game?


  14. If you do your research and are lucky enough to get good info on the school, go for it. In this game though you have to realize that things can change fast. The people who hire you may or may not be there when you start and then you may just have to hope for the best. In any case, you need to realize that you are not the owner, you are an employee. If you want to keep your job, do what you have to do to satisfy your employer or pack up and get in line back home where jobs are hard to come by, classrooms are overcrowded and the cutbacks just keep on a comin’. If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, get the *@%! out!


  15. I’ve had two experiences. One in Bahrain and the Other in Sharjah. Basically there isn’t much you can do. You won’t change the mentality of making a profit. Best thing to do is get out as soon as you can. Grit your teeth and look for another job. Don’t make waves because some schools will refuse to pay and leave you with nothing.


  16. The least of all the directors I’ve worked for was, in fact, at a non-profit embassy-affiliated school. And the best director I’ve ever worked for was at a large conglomerate of for-profit schools. Stop and think before you succumb to the stereotyped vision that non-profit schools are good and for-profit schools are bad. It ain’t necessarily so.

    What IS universally true is that if you don’t do adequate research about schools, directors and recruiters before you get into the international teaching game, and before you sign the contract, you can get into a bad situation in any type of school. And it will be your own fault. I, ISR, and God herself can’t help you.


    1. I agree with China Teacher. We work for a great ‘for profit’ school with a competitive package, and the fact is that you can’t stereotype. Most of the best private high schools and universities in the US are revenue seeking schools. If the school is affiliated with IGCSE, AP or IB, I would ask for the results. Schools shell out a lot of money to be part of these curriculums and therefore show an investment in their students. Ask pointed edu-speak questions (ie: percentage of ELL, LD students and support systems in place) of the director and see if he/she can answer them to your satisfaction. The reality is that unless you teach HS Physics (or the like) or have extensive IB, AP (etc.) experience, you will have a hard time gaining entry into the highly reputable international schools. You have to start somewhere to gain the experience to work your way up. I have seen too many new international teachers crash and burn because of their unrealistic expectations of this unique (and often difficult) lifestyle.


    2. I also agree with China teacher. There is this perception that non-profit schools are ALWAYS better. I teach in Kuwait, which seems to get a bad rap on ISR. I teach at one of the better schools, which is for-profit. The owner and superintendent, for the most part, stay out of the day-to-day dealings of the school, and they let the individual principals manage their respective buildings. While there is probably more pressure in the high school, overall, things are fine and I am quite happy. I work with a fabulous staff and great administration. My chief complaint with the owner is that he allows too many students who do not meet the criteria of the school to enter. Call it wasta (influence) or whatever, I am sure most schools around the world deal with parents who have influence. It’s not easy to tell an embassy parent or some local big shot that their child does not meet the criteria of the school and cannot enter.

      I meet a lot of first year or newbie international teachers who are a bit naive and who believe things will always be better at the next school. Not always true. Actually, many teachers have left to only find that they miss our school. No school is perfect, whether it is non-profit or for-profit. Do your research and ask questions related to the curriculum, professional development, percentage of ELLs and students needing support, etc. Good luck!


    3. How would you select the school superintendent or school director if you had the opportunity to hire them before you work for them.
      Having said that what can’t look for these qualities before you accept a job?



  17. Over the years, my wife and I have worked for one proprietary school and two non-profits. While the for-profit school had some great educators and excellent administrators, as those people left and the owner took greater control, things went downhill fast.

    The non-profits we’ve worked for certainly haven’t been immune to challenges, but their packages have been better and the level of professionalism more consistent across the school.

    Looking back, while we don’t regret our time in that proprietary school, we probably wouldn’t work in one again.

    Choose wisely.


  18. I work for one now….What I learned is that I am a guest in THEIR country and if I don’t like the way things are I can always leave. Owners working and operatiing in their own country have the right to do whatever they want. We, as expats have little to no rights. Again, we are a guest in THEIR country. If we don’t like it we ship out.


    1. Spot on! this is also a cultural issue. The initial post seems to make the assumption that only “Anglo” teachers from the US and UK work in international for-profit and non-profit schools. This lends to some of the mentalities I encountered as a black female administrator working in such schools. The fact of the matter is, as a person of color in the US, I spent my entire K-12 education “bending” to an Anglo education system. I am not saying that it was easy for me to work in international schools, but I certainly am aware of cultural differences and recognized that indeed I was a guest in the countries I worked in. Afterall, it is education, not neocolonialism. I cannot count how many Anglo teachers I have worked with who fail because it has always been there way or the highway… but insist on blaming their failure on their deficit understandings of the host culture/community. For-profit schools are a reality in most parts of the world and are gradually gaining a foothold in the US via Philanthrocapitalism. If you can’t stand the heat, get out the international kitchen. Again, not a fan of for-profit schools, but I am a fan of young people and respectful of the host-culture… If your not a teacher-tourist and you really care about kids, you find a way to make it work for and with the kids! The blame game doesn’t help.


    2. Well Said. I worked as a volunteer mentor to young at-ristk African American boys from inner city single parent homes. I was the only whtie guy in the program. I learned a lot and gained a lot of respect for and from the people I worked with.
      I have been overseas now for 2 years working for a stupid owner of a profit school. I keep my head down but my eyes and ears open. I love the school and everything about it. But I know they can fire me at any moment. The thought that I am a guest in their country never leaves my mind. Yes I want to educate and try hard to do my job. But if they want me to poop and call it purple, no problem. Just as long as my check don’t bounce.
      American citizens these people are not.


    3. Yes, as a guest in the country, it is crucial to respect and even revel in the differences. But, as a teacher in that country, at a school that is passing off their degree as equivalent to an American degree, the teacher has a responsibility to the student and parents to make sure the kid learns what he or she needs to in order to succeed at the next level. Giving a student the chance to retake an important test is a great way to satisfy everyone’s needs. If it takes that student a little longer to learn the material, so what? In the end your student has learned more.
      I should add that, in my experience, teachers and administrators at American schools are sometimes guilty of changing grades or pressuring teachers to change them, too. It’s nothing unique to international schools.
      One final teacherly bit of advice: Some of the posters above should check for spelling, grammar and clichés.


  19. I do feel sorry for teacher who move overseas and experience some of the situations described above. THE one piece of warning in all of this, I guess, is to only work for ‘non profit’ schools. BUT as we all know, those jobs are not as available. Another problem which I found in Tokyo was the school’s owner ‘pushing his own cart’ to the deteriment of other areas of the curriculum, basically because he knew very little about education, especially in the lower grades. Possibly, the only solution is a site such as this as well as contacting teachers already at a school you may be interested in, before accepting a teaching position. That has been my advice to those who contact me, now that I am back teaching in my own country.


  20. I can attest to the veracity of Expat Mac’s experience in Mexico. From his description, I can tell that this is the very same school where I taught for six months before being shown the door. In the interest of full disclosure, I hasten to add that I departed with a generous severence settlement. While I didn’t always handle difficult situations with aplomb while I was there, I steadfastly refused to play the, “paying customers” game. I don’t regret having been subjected to a situation in which I was, “enouraged” to leave. That said, neither do I regret the time I spent there. We always learn from every experience and we always impact our students positively, that is, if we know beyond any doubt that we taught well and served with honor and integrity.


  21. I worked for such persons in Kuwait and Mexico. The respective owners had puppet Directors General who were very nice persons but totally whipped and basically ornaments. They never stood up for anything other than the owners’ views and their own interests. Neither owner understood anything about real education, preferring the pretense of ¨US¨ diplomas handed out like candy. At the school in Mexico I refused to sign off on a student who had failed his grade 12 exams and therefore was not eligible for a diploma. The half-crazy owner wanted to admit this kid into the University which was ¨attached¨ to the High School, based on the fact that he was a good kid. The HS principal and myself refused to sign his ¨graduation¨certificate and we both ended up leaving that ¨school¨,myself the same year and the principal the following year. The Director General enjoyed giving kids documents on how to build your own moonshine still and happily signed the graduation certificate for this kid as well!
    In Kuwait, I was approached by a graduating student who offered me a very big bribe to alter his one failing grade but I refused. I informed both the DG and the owner that this had happened in writing and in person. The student ¨graduated¨ that year after the DG pressured his teacher into giving him 2 more tries at the exam, which he finally ¨passed¨. Of course the ubiquitous ¨wasta¨ (influence, parent power)was in evidence in this case and since the teacher was leaving anyway, he didn’t feel too guilty in collaborating with the DG.
    Integrity is a personal internal value and is sometimes totally absent in owner-managed, for-profit schools that see their ¨customers¨ as consumers, not stakeholders and their ¨fundamental duty¨ as keeping these consumers coming back at any cost to the teachers or administrators. They hire figurehead marionettes DGs who mouth platitudes in eloquent sales PR pitches aimed at keeping everyone ¨happy¨ or threaten those who won’t fall into line. They function on the mushroom philosophy: keep them covered in manure and in the dark!


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