Unforeseen End-of-Year Land Mines

April 30, 2014

cheated38615170With the academic year nearly completed, many of us are preparing to move on from our current schools to new schools, new adventures. For some, the experience is sadly not shaping up as anticipated. One group of schools has allegedly cast a shadow over what should be a time filled with good memories and excitement.

A school Review posted to ISR reflects the situation. In the Review a teacher asks, in an open letter to management, for fair treatment in regards to payment of salaries and funds owed departing staff. ISR Members can read the complete Review (Pls scroll to Review #22).

An excerpt from the Review:

….We all have contracts that show very clearly we are employed till the end of August and will be paid till then. But in my experience you do not respect any contract or the teachers you employ. I’m afraid you will try, once again, to cheat and defraud leaving staff by paying them only 40% of their salary. This school gives contracts with all kinds of allowances that are 60% of the total salary so that when the time comes for teachers to leave, they show them the contract and pay only 40% for July and August – that is ALL you take home with you for two or three years of hard work!….
ISR members can read more

SR would like to believe the majority of International Educators are in a supportive environment and finding the process of moving on to be a fulfilling experience. For educators in a situation like the one described above, it’s important you Post a Review so colleagues can be kept informed of potential land mines to be avoided. It’s equally important to post about good experiences, as such experiences are what we ALL want for ourselves and colleagues.

Some years ago a teacher at a Mexico City International School felt he had been treated unfairly. In an effort to warn other educators about his school, he followed the school’s recruiting team to various recruiting fairs to protest their presence. He reported his first-hand experiences to ISR and we posted them so readers could follow his efforts. It seems that shortly thereafter a new Director was in place.

Hopefully, the teacher who recently posted the above Review on ISR won’t have to go to the extremes of the teacher in Mexico City. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is all about. These situations CAN be avoided!

Care to comment?

Important eMail news for ISR Readers – Please Read This

April 24, 2014

Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, Comcast & a number of other email providers have changed their email policies. For International Schools Review & tens of thousand of other organizations, these policy changes mean that not all email is being delivered to subscribers’ in boxes.

Please add: newsletter@internationalschoolsreview.com to your Contacts to ensure future Newsletters arrive directly into your inbox.

Gmail users: Please look under the new Gmail ‘Promotions’ tab (or spam folder) to find your Newsletter. Then click “this is not a promotion/spam” to receive future Newsletters into your inbox. Adding the address: newsletter@internationalschoolsreview.com to your Contacts is recommended.

If you do not already receive the ISR weekly newsletter and would like to, please click here and send us you email address.


Can I Still Find a Teaching Position?

April 24, 2014

lookingforjob28364447Dear ISR,
I was unable to attend the recruiting fair I signed up for due to unforeseen health problems (now a thing of the past). I desperately want to go back overseas (I’ve been back in England for a year now) but have no idea how to go about finding a position at this late date.

Do you think it is still possible to find a position or should I just hang it up until next year? What do you think about sending out a mailer to schools introducing myself? I’m a maths teacher and I’ve taught high school science. I am told science teachers are in demand. Is there a web site that advertises emergency openings? Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Oh… by the way…love your web site! I’ve been a member for 4 years and vetted my first school using your reviews

With warm regards,
Skip (last name withheld by request)

NOTE: ISR has already sent Skip some basic advice.  We decided to through this topic out to ISR readers who are/have been actively engaged in the recruiting process this season and able to offer more timely, insightful advice.

Please scroll down to post

40+ Expat Teachers Banned from Russia

April 17, 2014

On April 16th, An International Schools Review member posted the following Review of Atlantic International School, Moscow:

“Please read about the extreme trouble that Atlantic in Moscow has had this year. Google: Moscow Times Atlantic International School. Read the articles carefully & understand the implications that having a Visa from this school can have for you. I have been banned from Russia for 5 years thanks to Atlantic! There is no need to say any more, apart from the fact that previous posted Reviews are 100% accurate!”

ISR learned that 40+ expat teachers (mostly British) from the Atlantic School left the country to process new Visas at the behest of the Federal Migration Service. Unfortunately, after leaving the country, the teachers were informed they could not reenter Russia for the next five years for ‘national security reasons. Imagine yourself in this situation! What sort of support would you expect to receive from your school?

 There has been speculation the expulsion is part of the Russian government’s reaction to sanctions from both the British & US governments in relation to the events taking place in Ukraine. Others speculate the school was simply looking for a quick way to get rid of a group of teachers to hire replacements for less money. Still others speculate a high-ranking parent had a beef with the school & used their influence to create utter chaos.

Unfortunately, there are few known details about the incident. As reported in the Moscow Times, March 4th, “…a Federal Migration Service spokesman said he was unaware of any problem involving the school’s teachers. A British Embassy spokesman also knew nothing about the matter.” Really??

 The most recent Moscow Times article of March 11th reported “a hiring spree is under way & Atlantic school administrators spent the last weeks in London recruiting British-trained teachers for contracts starting late March.” When asked to comment, school officials reportedly refused repeated requests. A top administrator, Galina Kovalenko, said the only comment she would offer was “the school is ready to return to work without any problems.”

 The fact remains that no information or statement from the school indicating any efforts to aid the displaced teachers can be found. In a situation like this we would think the school would express its concern for these educators, their families & at the very least, lay out a plan for bringing them back to reinstate them in their jobs. Quite to the contrary, the school’s efforts appear to be focused on installing replacement teachers to satisfy the needs of their financial bottom line. Understandably, the school should not be sacrificed nor students denied an education, but our concern now is for the well-being of our colleagues, of which no mention has yet been made.

 If you have first-hand knowledge of this event &/or school or just simply want to weigh in to shed some light on this incident please scroll down to Comment

Letter From School Owner Sparks Debate

April 10, 2014

. “I think this director’s comments are very fair and reasonable. We get none of these perks at home yet expect luxurious accommodations…”

. “I would laugh at your offer – never in a million years would I work for you…”

. “What a whiner? Sounds like he (the school owner) is saying “poor me.” Any person has a right to want good housing and to make a decent salary.”

• “I get annoyed with complainer type teachers! Just go home and be happy – you ruin it for those of us who are trying to enjoy the experience.”

debate14982578International Schools Review was taken by surprise by the range and intensity of the 100+ responses to our letter from a International school. To recap, this for-profit school owner wrote ISR to discuss contractual points such as, Professional Development, airfare, shipping, dependants and housing. He requested ISR share his letter with readers.

..In response, ISR readers adamantly took sides. Some felt that the owner had spelled out exactly what teachers would be getting so there was no reason to complain, although contract benefits were not on par with “tier 1” schools. Others asserted they would never work for a guy like this and still others felt he wasn’t entitled to pocket more than his teachers earned. If you missed this article we recommend you have a look.

Click Here for Full Article and Teachers’ Comments

A School Owner Talks About Teachers’ Complaints

April 3, 2014

“The next time your members think to complain about not being happy with this and that, I ask them to consider how they are displaying the same sense of entitlement they don’t like to see in their students.”

Dear ISR, I have been a member of your web site for years. I am the owner of a moderate sized school in a developing nation. I employ 25 expat teachers and I am always very interested to know what teachers are saying about my school on ISR. Regarding things they complain about, I would like to discuss three points and hopefully you will share what I have to say with your members to give them a chance to respond.

1) Professional Development: A common complaint among my staff is a lack of school sponsored professional development. When I interview teachers I make it abundantly clear I cannot/will not send teachers to an in-service in another country. Airfare, hotel and conference fees would add up to substantial expense for the school. As professionals, I feel it should be a teacher’s responsibility to keep up with developing practices in their field. What’s wrong with webinars? I don’t see teachers going to these conferences at their own expense. I have flown in “experts” to deliver PD and the teachers complained, perhaps justifiably, that many of these self-proclaimed experts are far from competent.

2) Housing: Housing can be a big issue. I rent 20 places and pay huge sums each month in rents alone. We have a maintenance staff that maintains the apartments for the teachers, and while the houses aren’t villas and don’t have pools or gyms, they are nice little homes in a safe part of town with facilities, including A/C. It’s what I can afford. I supply a bus that picks up/drops off teachers each school day. Some teachers are satisfied with their housing and others not so much. I don’t see it is my responsibility to support teachers at the level to which they would like to aspire. If they want to live in a better place, they can take the equivalent of the school-provided house and add some money of their own. But they don’t want to do this. They want me to pay as if I were mom and dad.

3) Air Fare, Shipping Allowance and Dependents: Our contract includes round trip airfare. I pay to bring teachers into the country from their home of record and pay to fly them home two years later. I do not pay for non-teaching spouses. I obtain Visas for teachers but dependent spouses must pay for their own Visa plus fees incurred. When there is a dependent spouse and child, I pay the airfare for the child and offer free school tuition for that child. The teacher must pay the expense for a second child including 50% of the normal enrollment fees. For teaching couples I pay all airfares, Visas (up to two children) and school tuition. For shipping I pay two suitcases overage for each teacher and one per child. Trying to ship anything through customs here is impossible. I do not pay toward teachers’ accompanying pets.

I think the Airfare and Visa allowance is very fair. I purchase over twenty-five tickets and pay more than 60 extra bag charges. Some teachers complain about the route we sent them on or the length of stop overs. Some complain I should pay for them to return home every year. Some think I should supply more shipping allowance. Some love their pets as children and expect me to honor that attitude with a plane ticket. My position is I can only afford so much. If a teacher wants to upgrade they are welcome to do so, yet I have seen very few do it.

In Conclusion: My school is what has been termed a “for-profit” school. Of course it is! I started this school with my own money and a big loan. I’ve risked a lot. I chose to open a school because I love education and think it is the path to many things in this world.

But let me be clear. I am not a philanthropist and I do not have endless amounts of money to finance this institution out-of-pocket. I need to meet my expenses and put a few dollars in my pocket. Yes, I live better than the teachers and I drive my own car. I have lived in this country my entire life and worked hard to get where I am. If I were to “support” the teaching staff on a level similar to what they are used to at home, I would be forced to short-change the school. In addition to teacher-related expenses and their salaries (that most local people would give their right hand for), I have the school buildings to maintain, heat/cooling, water, gardeners, maintenance and office staff, cafeteria staff, taxes, bank loans, government officials, text books, computers, science labs, classroom supplies, and by far the biggest expense, teachers’ salaries.

So the next time ISR members complain about not being happy about every little this and that, I would ask them to consider this: They are displaying the same unattractive sense of entitlement they don’t like to see in their students. If I gave any more to the expat staff I would have to start taking away from the students. The students are the reason for the school. Teachers looking for someone to treat them like their parents did should consider the bigger, richer schools. Some teachers who demand a more comprehensive package are better suited for these schools.

A ‘proud of my for-profit school’ owner

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