INDONESIA, Where International Teachers are imprisoned on insufficient evidence and convicted terrorists are set free for ‘good behavior’

April 30, 2015

  The high profile case of Jakarta International School teacher, Neil Bantleman, is a prime example of Indonesia’s current corrupt “legal” system and apparent growing disdain for Westerners. Without entering into a discussion of guilt or innocence in regards to the claim of child abuse, the trial of Neil Bantleman, if you can stretch your imagination to call it that, points to a judge and jury with an unobscured agenda: “Find him guilty!” even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. See: Thirty-Things You Should Know About the JIS Case

  Neil Bantleman was ultimately sentenced to 10 years in prison on insufficient evidence for an alleged crime against the child of a parent now pursuing a $125-million lawsuit against Jakarta International School. This, after Indonesia released convicted terrorist Muhammad Cholili from prison on ‘good behavior.’ Even Cholili was surprised by his release. He had been convicted for helping to assemble more than 20 backpack and motorcycle bombs, some of which were used in the October, 2005 attacks in Bali, killing 20 people and leaving more than 120 others injured at the well-populated tourist areas of Kuta & Jimbaran Beach. He served less than half of his 18-year sentence.

  We are speechless. A foreign teacher is imprisoned for 10 years on inconclusive evidence and a known terrorist convicted of killing and maiming tourists is set free because he was behaving himself in prison? Based on this model, Bantleman should have already been freed. The question is, were deals cut in both cases? Is each case an example of a corrupt system where money in the right pocket gets the desired results? Is Indonesia sending a message that Westerners are not welcome? We all like to think it can’t happen to us…at least until it does. Comments?

Is America Safe for International Educators?

April 23, 2015

flag22588370Cher Monsieur, I have been offered a job at a French International School in California but I am worried about my safety in the United States. Every time I see BBC TV the United States looks like a country of civil unrest and a people divided. Is this true?

I’m a French national with advanced degrees in science. I am teaching in my home country of France. I’m French/English bilingual. Coming to the United States to teach will be an international experience but I am concerned it could turn out to be a bad one.

When I watch the News I see police shooting and beating people in America, and especially men of color like myself. A woman is raped on the beach in broad daylight in Florida and people do nothing but stand and watch. The Boston Marathon is bombed. Everyone has a gun, there are lots of shootings. Racism looks strong. I have read school reviews that criticize the Middle East for human rights violations but there is not much written on your web site about American hatred for each other and for foreigners.

If you would be so kind and display this letter to your readers for comments it would be quite helpful to me so I can decide if I should accept this job. 

(name withheld)

ISR invites readers to respond to this letter with pertinent information

I’m Not Cut Out for THIS!

April 16, 2015

..Our previous
Newsletter featured a letter
from a school Admin asking that teachers seriously consider if they’re really cut out to live & teach overseas. He asserted that when a teacher’s preconceived ideas & fantasies turn out to be in sharp contrast to reality, they may become frustrated/disillusioned & thereafter post awful Reviews to ISR. He stressed the following points & suggests teachers ask themselves, Am I Cut Out for This? (click here to see full article)

“…If you are going overseas for an international experience, let it be what it is and experience it with all its ups and downs, its occasional discomforts and daily delights. No one suggests you have to like everything about it, but if you feel the need to reshape your school and community to conform to your perception of what’s ‘best’, you’re plainly not going to enjoy it overseas.”

..How very true! But at what point does a teacher’s personal code of what is ethical & moral dictate they can no longer stand idle on the sidelines accepting injustices in the name of ‘adapting to a new environment’? One comment brings this point to light:

“…Most of the teachers I have met overseas are incredibly flexible but also professional. It’s when the administration, who are also expat, bow to local custom of allowing bullying by students, assaults by students, and cheating by students that really upsets me…When teachers challenge the accepted behaviour and are told to just ‘go along’, I believe that to be wrong.”

..Another educator further commented:

“…It is important they (teachers) bring with them the educational practices and ethical expectations received in their training and experience from whatever part of the globe. School cultures that accept classroom disruption, bullying, patronizing contempt for teachers and their contracts, abuse and assault as normal behaviours must be rejected outright and changed by legal intervention.”

ISR asks, At what point should you speak up? What do YOU consider the dividing line between failure to adapt & what’s morally/ethically right? How do you handle a situation in which the school Admin bows to parental pressure, leaving you completely unsupported & expected to do the same?

Are YOU Cut Out for This?

April 9, 2015

Problem And SolutionDear ISR: I’ve been an ISR member for several years now. Based on what I’ve read, I’ve concluded that a percentage of reviewers go overseas with preconceived ideas and expectations. When reality doesn’t meet the fantasy, it seems they became frustrated and embittered, and then the next step is that they post awful reviews about their experience.

Let’s be honest — International teaching is not for everyone. For educators who think life overseas is going to be a typical teaching job similar to theirs back home, but transposed into a wildly exotic setting, there are some harsh realities to face. For the benefit of those of us who love the challenge of teaching internationally, I would ask teachers to consider the following before recruiting….

I often hear the phrase, “You need to be flexible to teach overseas.” This is true, yet I would say most people already consider themselves perfectly “flexible.” However, to make it as an international teacher you must truly be capable of accepting different ways of doing nearly everything, even when you know there is a better way. You must be “flexible” enough to remember you’ve been invited to educate students, not bend a culture to fit your ingrained ideas of how things should be. Real change starts from within an organization and until you accept what IS, you are not in a position to effect changes. If you can’t accept this philosophy and think everyone should jump to institute what, you, the great educator from the West is proposing, the answer to Am I cut out for this? is a resounding NO!

I hear teachers complain that their opinions are not taken into account when administrators make decisions. They feel belittled, unappreciated. The bottom line is this: Teachers are hired to teach. If I, as an administrator, wanted a mentor I would find one. I do listen to my teachers but anyone just coming into my school has little understanding of the community we serve. Their perception of what needs to be done, while appropriate and valid in their home country, may be completely out of place here. My job is to administer to the overall needs of my school, making decisions that take into account elements of a situation to which teachers are not privy. Again, if your ego tells you that you, as a teaching “professional,” should be consulted on every decision made at the school, the answer to Am I cut out for this? is a resounding NO!

Finally, I want to mention that housing, roads, school materials, transportation, communication, water/air/electricity quality, level of corruption, construction quality, and just about every other facet of life internationally may never, ever be like it is back home. If you are going overseas for an international experience, let it be what it is and experience it with all its ups and downs, its occasional discomforts and daily delights. No one suggests you have to like everything about it, but if you feel the need to reshape your school and community to conform to your perception of what’s “best”, you’re plainly not going to enjoy it overseas. Ask yourself the hard question and be honest: Am I cut out for this? Hopefully, the answer will be, for YOU, a resounding YES!

Comments? Scroll down to post

Also see the sequel to this topic: I’m Not Cut Out for THIS

Built on Teachers’ Backs?

April 2, 2015

A team of several people work together to lift an arrow and theDear ISR: Maybe you can offer some advice? I signed up at my current school to teach children. Next thing I knew, I was expected to participate in 5 fund raising events so far this school year (with more planned) to help the owner finance what he calls a ‘Performing Arts Center’ for his already posh school.

It’s been made very clear that failure to participate in these fund raisers will result in termination. Unfortunately, my contract says I can be called upon to function in any manner the school sees necessary for the good of the school. Considering how much time gets sucked into these events, it looks like I’ve been duped! 

At our first all-faculty meeting the director told us about his plans to build this performing arts center. Okay….sounds good to me. Next thing I knew a schedule was handed out listing the fundraising events we, as teachers, were expected to participate in. Like I said, there’s been 5 of them already this school year. All funds go towards the construction of the new building.

Next comes Easter and here we go again: We’re having a carnival all day Saturday and into the evening, with food brought by the parents to be sold by the school for a 100% profit and activities run by the teachers. I’ve begrudgingly signed up to run one of the game-booths. Not exactly what I had planned for my weekend! I’m feeling taken advantage of and to be honest, I feel abused and it bothers the hell out of me. This all seems like one more corrupt scheme in an already very corrupt country.

Where the hell has all the tuition and capital funds money gone? Let me guess! Seems suspicious I wasn’t told about all this at the recruiting fair! Well, I was mislead about a lot of things. So, for self esteem’s sake I’m secretly planning to not return after summer vacation. Maybe I’m being ridiculous but I don’t feel good about myself wasting my time to make a rich man even richer. If you have any advice I could sure use it right now. Maybe your readers can shed some light on this? Do I have legal recourse? Do other schools do this?