This post has been much anticipated. At least 10 people, including current and former employees, have contacted ASKR asking us to write a blog about summer school at ASK. Information we have been provided has been difficult to corroborate, so this post may not be what every person has been seeking. We will try to state all the facts, including our concerns about the validity of provided information, comparing what we have heard regarding summer school this year versus previous years. We will end with a call for more information and evidence so that we can amend and conclude this post at a future date.
The Facts We Have:
- Summer school at ASK in the past has been run like a subject-based study hall. If students had sat for a previous course but failed (not earned credit), then they could take the class at summer school. Some people have described it more like running detention for a few weeks rather than teaching – if students show up and complete the work, then they will get the credit for the class.
- In the past, ASK students who failed a class and then sat for summer school have earned credit, though their mark for the course was not increase. We consider this a good thing – it shows that they failed the course initially while also showing that they later passed the class. (See #2 below)
- In the past, teachers were told they could not tutor ASK students that took their summer school class at ASK. In general, at ASK, you cannot tutor your own students (and administrators are not supposed to tutor any students – although we know it is a fact that this rule is broken regularly).
- ASK teachers have been allowed to tutor non-ASK students that participated in ASK’s summer school. Not only was tutoring permitted, but it could take place on campus (an even bigger no-no during the school year), and it was even encouraged. The fact is that asking teachers to live in Kuwait from the end of August until the beginning of June is difficult, and asking them to stay for several additional weeks is an even tougher sell. Administration has used the prospect of earning an additional paycheck from the school and simultaneously earning cash from tutoring as a recruitment tool for summer school teachers.
Act with Integrity – Strive for Excellence – Think Critically
We think it is honest and good that the school will not change a failing grade to a higher grade. It is an accurate way to show the progress a student made over time. However, all reports from past teachers of summer school indicate that the level of work students complete over summer school does not come close to approaching the level that they complete during the year. We at ASKR believe that this is a common problem at many schools, public, private, and International, and not indicative of any unique problem at ASK. But it is still a problem – there must be curriculum oversight during summer school because credit hours are being awarded. We believe that the rigor of coursework and examinations at summer school should be no different than that of the regular school year.
Private tutoring is illegal in Kuwait. Teachers have been arrested in the past for private tutoring. Year after year, the government of Kuwait is taking this law more and more seriously. Teachers in Kuwait who tutor privately should be extremely cautious. When teachers are allowed to tutor their own students, they have a conflict of interest.
While we believe that the school is in the wrong for encouraging teachers and their students to engage in private for-pay tutoring, we also believe that teachers who tutor their own students are also wrong.
In fact, in many states it violates codes of ethics to take remuneration from students which one supervises. The Idaho Professional Standards Commission (the body which issues educator certification in Idaho) states this in its Code of Ethics for Idaho Professional Educators:
“Principle VI – Compensation: A professional educator maintains integrity with students, colleagues, parents, patrons, or business personnel when accepting gifts, gratuities, favors, and additional compensation. Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to (c) tutoring students assigned to the educator for remuneration unless approved by the local board of education.”
Remember, even as an international educator, you are subject to the policies in the state where you were certified – do not take the risk of compromising your certification.We encourage the school to adhere to Kuwait laws and we encourage teachers to adhere to professional behavior – you should not accept money from people over which you have power.
Unsubstantiated Information We have been told by some that non-ASK students who take summer school are being told by the school that they can arrange to pay teachers directly. We here at ASKR feels like this is incomplete information, and it doesn’t seem to make sense on its face. We’re hoping to obtain documentation about the registration process in the near future.
Further information has been provided, including copies of this years brochures and on-campus posters (pictures below). We are happy to report that students are not being instructed, in an official capacity, to directly pay teachers. All documentation appropriately instruct payment to go to the business office. (After-hours tutoring still seems to be permissable and encouraged, however). See the photos and comments below:
We here at ASKR are not here to simply criticize a school – we seek the improvement of The American School of Kuwait, because the students at ASK deserve it. We hope that this post (as we hope of all of our other posts) are an impetus for reflection among the administrative faculty at ASK. Many (dozens) of teachers and administrators, current and past, have reached out to us to express that they feel there is finally a voice and a place for expression and conversation. We strive to post factual information as well as incite professional dialogue and reflection so that The American School of Kuwait can improve for all of its stakeholders.
Please continue to contact us with information so that we can continue being factual and relevant and empowering. The children that attend ASK deserve the best. We promise to keep being the impetus for improvement. Faculty and administrators who remember the guiding principals will make decisions and judgments that benefit our children, and not just our bottom line:
Practice Compassion – Make A Difference – Learn For Life
Be respectful – Be Safe – Be Your Best