Taking a Breather


With our heads wheeling from a barrage of constant global crises, we’re taking a breather from our  usual Weekly Discussion Topic. Of course, this does not mean we’ve stopped religiously wearing masks or practicing safe, sanitary measures to protect ourselves and others. We are, rest assured…

In the meantime, you, too, may be inclined to take a breather. Or, conversely, you may wish to participate in one of the many spirited ISR discussions of personal and/or professional interest in progress. Scroll down the right-hand column to find and join a wide variety of conversations on timely topics. There’s many more Articles and Forum topics of interest to International Educators throughout the ISR website. Remember: Teachers keeping each other informed is what ISR is ALL about!
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ISR home page

Good News – ISR is Now Better than Ever!

We’ve moved to our NEW bigger, badder, faster SERVER & have incorporated some long-awaited upgrades to the ISR Member experience. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

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The ISR comprehensive SEARCH Feature is up & running: 

From finding schools near world-class skiing to locating those with outstanding Salaries & Benefits, getting the info YOU need to make informed decisions is easier than ever!

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The Main INDEX to School REVIEWS has a new format:

We went from this….

To this Easy-to-Navigate Cell Phone Compatible format….

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The Main INDEX to Admin REPORTS has a new look:

We went from this….

To Quick, Easy, Compact & Cell Phone friendly….

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The FORUMs & all REVIEWs have been updated, too:

 The ISR Member Forum, Open Forum & all Reviews are now cell phone compatible

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Other Significant Site Additions:

Landing Pages now have enhanced navigation to help you get where you want to be, faster.

Reviews that contains information about a school’s response to Covid-19 are identified with a bright, red * in the Most Recent Reviews list & the Main Directories to School &/or Admin Reviews.

Schools covered in the ISR Discussion Board, Name Your School & Comment on their Response to Covid-19, now carry a cross-reference link on their Member-Area Review Page. We’ve done the footwork for you.

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International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
just got quicker & easier. Many Thanks to our Members who ALL make ISR possible!

Exciting New Changes to ISR


It’s official! ISR has migrated to a brand new, state-of-the-art server with the potential to easily handle a comprehensive Search feature and several other site upgrades we’ve had on the drawing board for a while.

Coming soon, we’ll be implementing a much anticipated Search feature, as well as upgrading the Directory of School Reviews to a quick, easy-to-use drop-down Menu format. No more scrolling and searching for specific schools. Look for these new additions, soon. Very soon.

Site visitors who frequent ISR Forums will welcome the already implemented upgrade to a phone-friendly format. In case you haven’t already noticed, we also gave a responsive look and feel to the School Reviews and Admin Reports. Now, the entire site is mobile compatible!

We understand how important it is for you to have 24/7 access to information you need to make informed decisions concerning your career. As such, we made every effort to make the move to a new server as seamless as possible. If you found yourself inconvenienced during the site migration, however, please accept our apologies.

Note:  The new server and upgrades in no way means ISR has plans to raise the price of membership from its current $29 per year. Fact is, we have not raised the membership price in over 14 years and have no future plans to do so.

ISR thanks YOU and looks forward to serving the needs of our International Teaching Community in the many years to come.

The staff at ISR / Visit ISR

The Best is Yet to Come

It’s hard to believe in just a few days 2019 will be upon us! With the best yet to come, ISR waves goodbye to 2018 and greets 2019 with words of worldly wisdom from philosopher and theologian, St. Augustine:

“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.”
From all of us at ISR, we Wish YOU Chapter after Chapter of Peace and Fulfillment in 2019 Visit ISR

On Retreat w/ ISR

ISR is on retreat this week in Mexico, land of sun, sand & sea, art, music, dance, history, cheap tequila &, of major significance in this climate, legendary cerveza.

Team-building is part of any retreat. ISR’s planned activities have consisted of imbibing spirits, savoring local fare, more imbibing, more savoring, & of course, shopping for souvenirs.

Once we reach full relaxed mode, we’ll endeavour a few brainstorming sessions, our goal being to make ISR the best it can be to help YOU navigate the often treacherous waters of International Teacher recruiting.

Hmm…’navigate, treacherous waters…?’ The sun, sand & sea are influencing me already! Relaxed & rejuvenated….. it’s about time to start brainstorming a plan for the upcoming recruiting season!

Enjoy YOUR summer vacation wherever your travels may take you!

Hasta Luego,

Ben @ ISR

Help ISR Settle an Ongoing Debate



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Although it may seem trivial at first glance, there’s been much debate at ISR on the topic of whether or not we should convert the Open Forum and School Reviews sections of ISR to a cell phone friendly format. (Note: All other sections of the ISR web site have already been converted.)

The faction in favor of a conversion says….
Convert them both! Pure and simple. What are we waiting for?

The faction opposed to a conversion says….
Not so fast! Check out other popular web sites and you’ll see the forums have not been converted to a cell phone format, and for good reason:

If ISR changes the Open Forum and School Reviews sections to a cell phone format, the pages, because of the extensive information they contain, will become so long that a perspective of all that’s contained on a page will be lost on a cell phone. In other words, you won’t be able to see the trees for the forest, so to speak… The information is more easily available on a phone as it is now than extended to many, many pages in cell format.

To resolve the issue of whether to convert the Open Forum and School Review sections of the ISR web site to cell phone format we invite YOU to participate in the decision-making process. Your input will help us continue developing International Schools Review as an ever more useful, evolving tool for making your important career decisions.

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

Please scroll down to take our short Survey. Feel free to comment, below.

Ushering in 2018 w/ ISR’s 18 TOP TOPICS

 

..Millions of International Educators frequent the ISR Forum & Blog venues to glean insights from colleagues & to contribute their own personal knowledge & experiences. Providing 46,457 posts from educators around the world, the ISR Forum is the place to find the information & support you’re seeking to make informed decisions. Additionally, the ISR Blog attracts well over a million educators, many of whom participate in over 300 timely topics introduced by ISR staff & site members alike.

Here’s the top 18 Form & Blog Topics from 2017:

Discussions from the ISR Forum

1. Best & Worst School Benefits Packages
2. Overseas & Over 50
3. Schools w/ High Savings Potentials
4. One Lying Director
5. Landmines That Can Blow an Interview
6. References Can End Your Career
7. Admin w/ Fake Credentials
8. Canceling a Contract After Signing
9. Is This Really a Career Anymore?

Discussions from the ISR Blog

10. Prospective New Teacher: Expectations & Advice
11. DODDS Hiring Question
12. American or Brit Certification/Credential for Non-Citizens
13. What’s your greatest motivator & biggest regret?
14. IB certificate or workshop?
15. Teaching in Singapore
16. Advice: Leaving Japan (JET), aiming for Europe
17. Single Parents
18. Canada – Foreign Teacher 

 

The Last Slice of Information

..Still have a nagging concern about a specific International School? ISR highly recommends you take full advantage of the ISR Member Forum. It is, of course, included with your membership, yet often overlooked as a valuable resource.

Located inside the ISR Member Area that’s packed with 11,000+ in-depth School Reviews, the ISR Member Forum stands alone as an adjunct venue for ISR Members who may still have unique questions in regards to a specific International School.

Don’t leave your career to chance. Click HERE to visit the ISR Member Forum for that last slice of vital information you need to make an informed decision.

Should Have, Would Have, Wish I Had

Hindsight may be 20/20, but why learn the hard way when you can KNOW before you go?

With recruiting season basically over, those of us who haven’t yet landed a position for the upcoming school year are feeling a bit desperate and maybe a little more than willing to take a chance on a school with not-so-good Reviews.

“I wish I knew about International Schools Review before I took this job” is a recurring theme running through many ISR Reviews. There’s also ISR teacher-members who had read poor Reviews of a school, went anyway, and later commented that they should have heeded the Reviews but didn’t because they refused to accept that any school could be so bad.

Here’s some excerpts from recent Reviews posted by teachers who didn’t know about ISR before they accepted a position, and from those who chose to ignore the warnings of teachers already at the school:

A school in Cyprus
I honestly wish I had read the reviews prior to accepting a teaching job here. Believe me, these reviews are spot on concerning accuracy!

A school in the UAE
This is a miserable place to work. I wished I had looked at the reviews before I set foot in this school…

A school in Oman
Now that I know the reality of working here, I wish I had taken the reviews written on ISR more seriously…

A school in Vietnam
After joining this website, I feel compelled to warn people that I have been at four international schools that touted ‘high ideals and rigor with a strong commitment to students and faculty.’ Oh, how I wish I had found this website years ago! So much stress and heartache could have been avoided…

A school in Malaysia
The school has a notorious reputation of teachers and principals leaving in a short period of working. I wish I had known this fact before signing…

A school in China
I am writing this because these are things I wish I had known before going to work for this school. I hope that it helps people assess whether or not this is the right place for them…

Should Have, Would Have, Wish I Had sentiments are a thing of the past with ISR.

International Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools is All About!

Comments? Please scroll down to participate

Human Rights Vs. The Rights of International Teachers


An Open Letter to ISR

Dear ISR, I’m writing in regards to the International Educators’ Bill of Rights mentioned in your article, Don’t Bring Me Down. I fail to see how the Bill of Rights can be applied to all schools, worldwide, especially when some schools are located in countries with very different ideas about “rights” than we in the West.

Human rights, including employment rights, are determined by the laws of the country in which you reside and teach, and they are not all the same. For example, there is an Arab charter on human rights, which has its own interpretations on racism, and an Asian version on human rights, where, for example, ‘individuals must put the state’s rights before their own’. How would it be possible for an International Educators’ Bill of Rights to supersede such documents?

For me as a westerner living in the middle east, I find Arabic values incomprehensible and totally incompatible with my education and upbringing; there is a gulf between myself and management which cannot be bridged. As a fourteen-year-old studying history I learned how ‘nepotism’ was a terrible evil. I still think that way. Yet, in my present adopted country, this is the only way to get promoted; experience appears to count for very little.

I feel what might be more useful than the International Educators’ Bill of Rights is if recruiting agencies would require schools to provide realistic information on the culture surrounding each school. This could include such info as the country’s basic laws and regulations, and the area’s overall approach to human rights. How is their treatment of children, of foreigners, the disabled, females, the extremely poor and the uber rich? The info should also include the make-up of each schools’ ownership and management, thereby getting a much clearer picture of the mindset of who you’ll be working for on a day-to-day basis.

For example:  A school organized and managed by the American Embassy school would be noted as such and considered to be run by an American administration. A school owned by a host-national and administered by a host-national director/principal would be designated as such. In this way teachers could understand in advance what sort of experience they were signing on for, not to stereotype schools or countries, but as a good start to knowing if a school is the right choice for you.

I find the International Educators’ Bill of Rights a wonderful document. I am, however, not convinced it’s applicable to all schools in all locations around the world.

ISR Response. We agree that individual countries have their own specific code for Human Rights, including employment rights. We do feel, however, that no educator goes overseas with the intent to be taken advantage of under provisions set forth by law, or through loopholes in a country’s laws.

ISR considers an International School that hires staff from Western countries to be an island unto itself,
and as such, will treat their educators as would a school in the West. ISR feels strongly that a school which cannot, or will not, stick to the basic principles of the International Educators’ Bill of Rights is a school to be avoided.

ISR asks: What is YOUR opinion on this topic?

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ISR Note:
This blog was high jacked by a person with a personal agenda. We have removed all comments from this blog.  We apologize to those contributors whose comments were in earnest and on topic.  Posting is open and we invite you to contribute to the topic.

Suspiciously Silent

..Here’s the scenario: At a Recruiting Fair you discovered an “invitation to interview” in your candidate mail box. You took the bait. The interview went well and the job is yours. Problem is, you can’t find a recent Review of the school, if any, at all!

..It strikes us as suspicious when there are no Reviews for a specific school, or multiple Reviews that span a few years and then suddenly stop coming in from years back. Why are there no recent Reviews? Why did they stop coming in? We can’t say for certain, but based on teachers’ letters and excerpts from Contracts, there are schools that have taken to contractually preventing their teachers from writing School Reviews. In legal terms, this is called a ‘gag order.’ It is legal and leads one to wonder … what are these schools hiding?

..It’s been said that “happy” teachers don’t write School Reviews. So maybe, just maybe, Reviews stop coming because teachers, in their utter contentment, suddenly stopped writing Reviews. Of course there are other reasons why Reviews of a school don’t exist or stop posting; however, we’re not aware of what those reasons are or we would, most certainly, share them with you.

..When you don’t find current Reviews, or any Reviews for a school, it could be a flapping red flag. But before jumping to a final conclusion, ISR encourages you to consult the ISR Member Forum. Located inside the Members’ area of the ISR web site, this Forum is an adjunct to the School Review section. It’s the designated place to post questions that solicit review- and analysis-type information about schools.

..ISR Members have been quite successful using the ISR Member Forum to request and receive up-to-present-day information about various schools. You’ll find thousands of current posts on various schools already available. Go to the ISR Member Forum.

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools Review is all about!

Scroll to Comment on this Topic

 

Celebrate The New Year with Our Top-10

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..Here’s our Top-10 most popular Blogs. Of course, there’s hundreds more to choose from & each delves into important Topics directly affecting International Educators like you! International Schools Review is honored to provide the platform preferred by thousands of International Educators & encourages you to utilize this vast resource of material, all of which has been contributed by International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed.

..In the new year, ISR will continue to keep abreast of issues affecting International Educators & present these timely topics for discussion. It’s the continued support of the International Teaching Community that makes ISR possible & helps us to continually evolve into an ever more useful tool. Your input is important. We encourage you to submit your ideas. Your voice counts!

Top-10 ISR Blog Topics

Best & Worst School Benefits Packages (214,543 visits)

Schools w/ High Savings Potential (31,289 visits)

Overseas & Over-50   (28,710 visits)

Canceling a Contract After Signing – Where do you stand? (19,108 visits)

Working in International Schools – a Good Career Move? (15,993 visits)

Does Teaching Overseas Help or Hurt Your Career? (13,679 visits)

What makes an International School a Tier-1 School? (13,581 visits)

Can I Really Live on that Salary? (12,850 visits)

I’m Ready to Run! (12,291 visits)

Be Prepared for Tough Interview Questions (11,719 visits)

Happy New Year from International Schools Review

 

The Truth Hurts!


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Every year around this time, a few International Schools contact ISR. Why? Because poor School Reviews are hurting their recruiting efforts, and instead of using the Review information to constructively affect improvements, they just want, sometimes demand, that the Reviews go away. Now!

Schools that withhold salaries, switch contract terms, substitute poor housing for promised housing, fail to reimburse travel and/or shipping allowances, renege on health insurance, or engage in other dishonest practices are not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination. If schools complain that Reviews of their modus operandi are affecting recruiting efforts, ISR affirms: This is as it should be. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is all about.

One organization that manages 3 schools recently sent this email to ISR concerning 86 ISR-hosted Reviews:

“Dear Sirs, I would like to request you to remove all the reviews related to our schools and remove our schools from your database for any candidate to write any reviews. These reviews are creating negative impact while recruitment and we are losing good prospective candidates. I hope you can do the needful ASAP. Thanks.” (Name withheld)

  Without naming names, ISR would like to share with you excerpts from recent Reviews of the schools in question. Each excerpt is from a different School Review, and each of the 5 reviewers, among other things, is concerned with an insufficient housing allowance — a problem, in ISR’s opinion, that could be easily remedied:

• “I like the school. Some great people work here, but that’s not why I am leaving. I am leaving because the housing allowance is really low compared to what actual rents are…”

• “Teachers do not leave because it is a bad school, they are leaving because the salaries are not good compared to other schools. Bigger problem: Many are now saying that our allowances for housing are poor. The allowance will not get you good housing…”

• “I don’t know how I will manage next year because my rent allowance is not high enough. Well, it is…IF I want to live in a shoe box…”

• “This is a rant regarding the shameful situation about housing and housing allowances…”

• “If they won’t give you a good allowance, I advise you to not come here. For a family with 2-3 children you must have at least 11,000 Riyal/month for decent housing…”

..As mentioned, there are other, sometimes huge, issues outlined in these 86 Reviews, but the inadequate housing allowance is stressed in each and is something that could/should be quickly/easily addressed and corrected. But instead of responding to teachers’ needs, a request was made for ISR to remove all traces of the schools from the website. Had we done so, prospective teaching candidates could be lured in. Some web sites may comply with take-down requests, especially when legal threats follow. But most definitely, ISR is not one of them!

Staking your career on the word of a School representative during a thirty-minute interview can be risky, as many, many ISR School Reviews have demonstrated. We recommend that, without fail, you must thoroughly research any school before committing to a Contract. This recruiting season, as always, you can rely on ISR to provide a safe, secure venue dedicated to Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed!

Comments? Please scroll down to participate

Is Every Review on this Site Negative?


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Many thousands of International Educators depend on ISR for the inside word on schools around the world. We’ve been following a thought-provoking discussion on the ISR Forum that’s focused on the abundance of negative School Reviews submitted to ISR. With recruiting season under way, we thought this conversation a timely topic to explore.

Forum excerpts:

ISR Member: I’ve been coming to this site for years to research schools. For the past 2 years (at least) there is not one school that sounds like it would be worth applying to or to send a child! Am I just imagining it? Or is international teaching not what it used to be?

ISR Member: My best guess would be a combination of two factors:  1. An explosion of international schools around the globe…..as you can imagine, a lot of these schools are set up as get-rich-quick schemes by people with no background in, or clue about education. So they genuinely are crappy places to work. 2. People are more likely to leave reviews when they’ve had a bad experience than a positive one. Human nature.

ISR Member: I’ve worked at five of the schools reviewed on ISR. The majority of the posts about those schools are accurate, or were accurate at the time they were written. The relatively few propaganda exercises are easily detected.

ISR Member: I think the paid side of site is actually quite positive. Many schools that I know of are aggrandized dumpsters.

..ISR Asks: What’s your take on this topic? Why are teachers posting so many poor Reviews of their schools? What’s the current state of International Teaching? Has it changed drastically? How do you pick a school that’s right for you?

Please Scroll Down to Post

How ISR Stands Up for You-An Example

  Not all schools and directors view a negative Review as an opportunity to improve their school. To the contrary, many react by contacting ISR demanding the offending Review be removed, often accompanied with the threat of “legal action” should we fail to comply. A few days ago, ISR received just such a threat.

We believe you have the right to know what goes on behind the scenes when you’re considering a particular school for a career move.  For this reason, when we receive threatening letters from schools/directors/attorneys we post these letters along with the reviews of the schools to which they pertain.

We’ve displayed the most recent threat below and exactly as we received it (through our contact us form) with spelling and grammatical errors in intact. We did remove the name of the school and director for purposes of the newsletter. This same letter is, however, posted along with the reviews of this school in the members’ area: 

Recent Letter to ISR Demanding Action

submitted by: (xxxxx@hotmail.com) on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 14:11:40

name: (withheld)

message: Im the Rector of one of the School, a comment was posted. I think it is very unfair to let people upload whatever commnet they want. They can affect the reputation of a school very fast. And I say its unfair because there a a lot of things that are not true. As a school we haven’t authorized to use the name of our organization in your website. So please contact us, if not then we will have to start a legal process.

Schools and directors who consistently take advantage of teachers are in the habit of getting their way. And they expect to get their way with ISR. A problem starts when they realize ISR stands up for its members and refuses to allow schools to manipulate how they are represented on ISR. We couldn’t sleep nights if we had any part in allowing you to make a career decision based on deceptive information. Our mission is to provide a safe venue through which teachers can share the honest truth about their experience with a particular school.

In response to such threats from schools we respond with a letter similar to the one seen below. Our hope is that schools and directors will see that negative Reviews can, and do offer them a rich opportunity to work with staff to correct grievances. Some schools and directors do proceed in a very positive way, and others escalate the threats directed at ISR to new levels. In the 13 years ISR has been on line we have never removed a Review from the site in response to a legal threat.

Any Review sites that alter, doctor, or even worse, removes (!) Reviews is no better than the schools that exploit educators for money. This recruiting season, as always, you can depend on ISR for School Reviews that contain what the author and/or teacher intended to share with you!

The ISR Response to Threats of Legal Action

Dear …..

Thank you for writing and pointing out the Review of your school you find objectionable.

Please understand that ISR is a public bulletin board. We function strictly as a third-party venue to provide a space where members can exchange information. As such, everyone is entitled to relate their experiences and naturally, not everyone has the same experiences.

The person, or persons, that posted a Review you find objectionable has obviously had an experience contrary to how you may perceive the situation from your position. ISR is not in a position to remove information from the site. We are not editors or publishers, and as such we strictly provide a venue.

There may well be two sides to a situation and from your letter it sounds like you have a different story to tell about how things are currently at your school. If you would like to compose a letter stating your version of the facts we can link it directly to the section of a Review you find objectionable.
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You may want to post your own Review and identify yourself. This way readers can see two points of view, side-by-side. Membership is not required to post Reviews to the ISR web site and you will find a link on the home page through which you may post to the site.

May I recommend you see the following, which outlines a positive way to benefit from Reviews you consider unfavorable?
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http://www.internationalschoolsreview.com/nonmembers/ethical-directors-what.htm

Sincerely,
Ben M. @ ISR

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what
International Schools Review is all about!

Comments? Please scroll down

Choosing a School Review Site You Can Trust

trust121230791
..In 2003 International Schools Review went online with one startling Review. Within days, more Reviews began rolling in from other International Educators who, too, had suffered injustices at the hand of schools and directors. For the founder of ISR, it came as a huge surprise to learn that the sordid events outlined in ISR’s first-ever Review were not uncommon. They were, in fact, endemic.

..As International Schools Review grew and evolved, the International Educators’ Bill of Rights came into existence through the collaboration of hundreds of International Educators around the globe. Interestingly, every major recruiting agency refused to endorse this document. International Schools Review became firmly grounded in the International Educators’ Bill of Rights and, as such, our mission has been to provide a safe haven for International educators to share the honest, forthright truth about their schools. Our byline, International Educators Keeping Each Other Informedis far more than just a saying — your career and future are our top priority!

..In recent years we’ve seen new school Review sites spring up, some with your best interest in mind and others not so much.  One such upstart imitates the look/feel of the ISR Newsletter and tries to deceive readers into believing the short, one-line comments they post actually lead to full-length reviews, when in actuality the one-liner Newsletter blurb IS the entire “review.” Another site has optimized their site to appear like ISR to search engines, even calling itself by our name but changing one letter of International Schools Review. A couple of upstarts even host ads from schools. But what shocked us most was to discover a site that actually posts a directory, along with photos, of all members on their homepage, leaving members vulnerable to retaliation by schools.

  ISR observes that, of course, if the only information you allow on your “review” site is laudatory and/or benign, there’ll be no problems coming from schools. There ARE problems aplenty, however, for those candidates seeking an honest appraisal of school policies and treatment, yet finding only happy-happy, glowing comments most likely written by invested review authors such as school owners, admin, admonished/threatened teachers, or board members.

..Can you depend on the information a web site hosts? We compared individual Schools reviewed on ISR with reviews of the same schools on other sites.  We were horrified to see that Schools with a multitude of poor Reviews on ISR were conversely portrayed as being good, even excellent (!) places to work on these other sites. We can only surmise that such review sites are either a.) acquiescing to schools hoping to attract their advertising dollar, or b.) have backed down and removed negative information after threat of lawsuits or other retaliation. ISR has never backed down, will not back down, and we do not accept ads from schools. ISR allows its Members to maintain anonymity in posting all Reviews.

..It’s wise to consult various sources. Without pointing any fingers, ISR urges you to carefully examine any site you depend on to supply information needed to make a wise, informed career decision. NO one wants to find themselves stranded in a foreign country, only to realize they’ve been duped by a site, AND an International School, both in it merely for the money. Don’t leave your career to chance!