The 3 Things YOU Absolutely Must Know Before Signing On

May 29, 2014

top-threeIf you were able to know just 3 things about an International school before signing a contract, what would those 3 things be, assuming, that is, you’ll be provided with absolutely truthful answers?

Michelle, an ISR staff member, said she would want to know: Does the school consistently honor its contractual obligations? Followed by, How international is the school? She elaborated, “A classroom of 30 Pakistani boys, some with dual citizenship, does not an International school make.” And third, How adept are the kids at speaking English? “Try teaching high school English Lit (think, George Orwell) to kids who can barely ask to use the bathroom in English!”

Ben’s response was completely different: His number one question, Can I see the benefits package? You know, air fares, moving, housing, insurance, that sort of stuff. Followed by, What sort of support can I expect from Admin? In other words, are teachers supported against powerful parents? And number three, Is there 100% academic integrity?

Both Ben and Michelle agree that having no more information than completely truthful answers to their 3 questions would be enough to base a decision to commit, or not commit, to an International school. Of course, both are seasoned International teachers who expect to experience some awkward situations with specifics of a new school, admin and location.

Without a doubt, singles in search of a vibrant social life will have different top priorities than couples. Seasoned International educators will have different priorities than “newbies”, while those traveling with children or non-teaching spouses will have different criteria still.

In our effort to make ISR an ever evolving tool to help our Members make informed decisions, ISR asks: If YOU could know only 3 things about a school before you signed/or refused a contract, what would those 3 things be? To help qualify your response, please precede your answer with a status update–(i.e.: I am single/married, have children, number of schools taught at, years overseas).

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Why Reviews Stop Posting

May 22, 2014

derailed44995828ISR received a thought-provoking email this morning. After much conversation on the topic we moved to share the email with Members for Comment:

Hello ISR, I am checking out a school in Kuwait and I see that the last posting year was 2011. Am I missing something or is this really the last entry you have about this school, the Universal American School? Many of the reports were very bad and the fact that there are none after 2011 caused me to wonder if there were some errors on the dates of the reports or if there are some reviews missing. Perhaps the school has improved and now no one is disgruntled enough to post anything? A bit strange though….

(name withheld)

In response, ISR wrote:

Hi —-, You may be right that the school has improved and no one is disgruntled enough at this time to post anything. I do see that the school still has the same owner and maybe she has changed/improved her management style.

However, consider these other scenarios that may cause Reviews to stop appearing, as related to us by Reviews from international teachers:

1) A gag order:  A clause in the “revised” contract says teachers will not post any information about the school to any web site. The consequence, if discovered, may be immediate dismissal. Teachers have reported that their school threatened legal action as a consequence for posting to a web site.

2) A “witch-hunt”: Teachers have related incidents of being called into the office, one-by-one, to be interrogated by a school attorney when an unfavorable post appeared. One Director went so far as to lie to staff that he “has a friend at ISR who will tell him who posted the objectionable Review…so confess and make life easy”.

3) A date cover-up: It could also be that the poster is  currently at the school they are reviewing and trying to protect their identity even further by using earlier “dates covered” by their Review. This would lead admin to believe they have already left the school.

What is happening at the Universal American School in Kuwait is unknown. It does seem odd that the posts stop at 2011 when there are thirty-nine posts, many of which are negative. Investigation reveals several other schools which fall into the same pattern.

I suggest you post your questions about this school to our Forum and see what teachers have to say, or, if anyone can and will respond.

Hope this information is of some help to you.

Best,

Paul @ ISR

What’s your own opinion on this topic? We invite you to comment. Read complete article/comment


More About the Worst Among Us – Alumni Accuse International School of Child Abuse Cover-Up

May 15, 2014

child-abuse30183278A frightening theme emerged from Readers’ responses to ISR’s previous article, Pedophiles Among Us. It came to light that educators have observed that in reaction to a student’s complaint of a pedophile incident, a school may actually attempt to cover-up the complaint instead of acting upon it. Obviously, public admission of a pedophile in the classroom would not be good for a school’s image or its financial bottom line.

Taking the cover-up theory one step further, some educators expressed the belief that discovered pedophiles may simply be asked to quietly resign. In exchange for leaving the school without a commotion, the school may even go so far as to write the teacher a glowing evaluation. Grievously, the purged pedophile is then free to seek another unsuspecting school, making the school they are leaving just as guilty as the person who committed the crime.

Could there be any truth to such comments? Certainly, very few, if any, schools would fail to act on complaints of a pedophile. The American School in Japan, however, allegedly may be one such school that failed to act, as reported in The Japan Times, March 2014.

The Japan Times informs us that several alumni from the American School in Japan have come forward to claim that their former teacher (noted marine biologist), Jack Moyer, sexually abused students on numerous occasions during his long-term employment at ASIJ (1963-2000). The claim asserts that ASIJ ‘s head teachers, on up to the upper Administration, ignored and covered-up student complaints of Moyer’s crimes and allowed him to continue working with children. It is believed that while working at ASIJ , Moyer abused as many as 32 female students, some as young as 9-years old.

Current Director of ASIJ , Edwin Ladd, and Stephanie Toppino, chair of ASIJ’s Board of Directors, recently revealed knowledge that Moyer abused students while working at the school. In a message to alumni, as reported by The Japan Times on March 20, Ladd and Toppino suggested the school had only learned of Moyer’s alleged molestations in November 2013. This is in sharp contrast to alumni’s statements.

To date, 12 alumni groups have stepped forward and created a Petition requesting a third-party investigation into allegations the school covered up complaints and failed to act during Moyer’s tenure at the school.

As reported in The Japan Times, alumni’s efforts to initiate a third-party investigation into wrong doings on the part of the school have been “stonewalled” by the current administration. It is reported that one Petition organized by 1979 graduate, Susan Larson, charges the school with failing to protect former students and continuing to brush aside complaints from survivors of Moyer’s abuse. Read the entire Japan Times Article

Allegations against ASIJ  appear to be in lock-step with the aforementioned comments in regards to ISR’s previous article, Pedophiles Among Us. In light of complicity allegations against ASIJ , a pressing question is this: When children can’t depend on their school to protect them and offer a safe and secure environment, then what?

Comments


Pedophiles Among US

May 8, 2014

child-abuse30183278This is an extremely unpleasant topic but in the light of recent developments, ISR believes it merits discussion among the international teaching community.

It has been recently discovered that a known pedophile had managed to elude authorities and work his away around the world teaching and molesting young boys aged 12-14. William Vahey, a 64-year old American and International Educator, worked in more than 7 international schools during his career.  At his most recent school in Nicaragua, he was exposed as a pedophile after his house maid stole a pin drive from his home and discovered vile images.  She delivered the pin drive to Vahey’s employer and when confronted, Vahey confessed that he had drugged and molested at least 90 boys while on overnight field trips. The dates accompanying the images on the pin drive corresponded to the dates of field trips with his students.

Police records show that in 1970, while studying for a teaching degree, Vahey was jailed for 90 days after pleading guilty to molesting boys at a swimming pool where he worked as swim instructor in California.  He was ordered to register as a sex offender for life, but after graduating from college in 1972 neglected to sign the Register. The more than 7 schools that employed him during his teaching career all failed to find records showing time served for his crimes. One International school explained they had vetted Vahey back to 1985 when he taught in the United States, and assumed that that particular school would have vetted his even earlier history.  They looked no further into his past. Vahey had slipped through the cracks.

William Vahey took his own life rather than face trial. His wife, Jean Vahey, was superintendent of Escuela Campo Alegre in Venezuela during the same period as Vahey taught there between 2002 and 2009. Jean Vahey was also Executive Director of European Council of International Schools. She has in no way been implicated.  A statement from the ECIS Board of Trustees can be found at the following link – http://www.ecis.org/page.cfm?p=787

Unfortunately, we find that the case of William Vahey is not an isolated incident on the international education circuit. An ISR Review reported, “…it was learned that Kwangju Foreign School has also received a certain notoriety from the fact that the pedophile, Christopher Paul Neil, was a middle school teacher at the school just prior to his capture in Thailand, in October of 2007. He was quite popular with students and staff members, and it came as a complete surprise to everyone when his photo appeared on CNN during Interpol’s manhunt for him. Korean Immigration has now gotten stricter about checking the backgrounds of people wanting to teach in Korea, because of this incident…”. 

A Google search will uncover more than we’d like to confront. Our question is this: How can we, as International educators, protect our children from such abuse? How can schools uncover and expose those who would do harm? Whether you’re an administrator, a school Board official, or a teacher in an international setting, what is the cure for this insidious treachery that causes harm to children of the world?

Go to More of the Worst Among Us
Alumni Accuse International School of Child Abuse Cover-Up