Governance @ ASK: Time for Change

When you visit ASK’s website, you may notice that there are links at the top that point to information about the school’s governance:

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When you go to this part of the site, you can view three piece of information: welcome letters from the Superintendent, the Executive Advisor, and Superintendent of Learning. While these people are also members of the school’s governance team, the link would be more accurately described as “Administration” rather than governance.

The American School of Kuwait is governed by a Board. Faculty, parents, and students should be able to know the members of this board as well as the details of its meetings. ASK’s governance is violating not only established norms of governance amongst international schools, it is also not meeting the standards for school accreditation set forth by Middle States.This is a dangerous place to be as ASK is a candidate for reaccreditation next year and will be visited by Middle States at some point during the 2018-2019 school year.

Kuwait – American United School

AUS provides a plethora of information about their school’s governance. We can see the names of the members of their board, meeting minutes, and upcoming meeting dates. There is a prominent notice of an upcoming meeting that invites people to attend.

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Take notice of their site navigation. You can view their accreditation plan, information about faculty professional learning, and how they partner with parents. You can view all this information for yourself by clicking here.
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It makes us wonder what the ASK Board’s bylaws are. Do they have bylaws? We would be even more curious to know what was discussed at board meetings over the past several years.

Kuwait – Bayan Bilingual School

Bayan Bilingual School sets a good example for how a private school can be run in Kuwait. While most schools in Kuwait are for-profit, Bayan Bilingual School claims not-for-profit status with details about how such a structure is set up. You may be interested to know that ASK has listed itself as a not-for-profit school with Search Associates and International School Services (two recruiting companies for international school teachers). These claims are obviously untrue (and an unethical recruiting practice), so it is nice to see that a school in Kuwait which claims such a status can provide more detailed information.

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The BBS site (link here) provides information about their ownership structure and the identities of the members of their board. Lots of details are available – they seem to have it together in this area.

United Arab Emirates – American School of Dubai

The American School of Dubai has detailed information about their Board of Trustees, including a short biography of each member, complete with photo.

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At the bottom of their page (link here) there is even a link for directly messaging the Board of Trustees. Great idea, ASD.

Jordan – King’s Academy

King’s Academy, a prominent boarding school in Jordan where some of the best students in all of the Middle East attend, includes a list of the members of their Board of Trustees.

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The Chairman is Mr. Al-Salem, but it looks like His Majesty King Abdullah II is in charge. See for yourself by clicking the link here. Bonus: This could be your school.

Korea – Korea International School (Jeju campus & Seoul campus)

If you’re a former teacher, odds are high that you currently work at Korea International School, which proudly boasts no fewer than 8 former ASKers between their campuses in Jeju and Seoul.

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On the website for the Jeju campus, we see detailed information about the governance at KISJ. View it by clicking the link here.
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The KIS Seoul site even lists their detailed budgets for the past 4 years. View them here.

After the numerous examples we have seen that we can agree that it is the norm to be transparent in these types of matters. It is also a norm to have teacher representation on the governance board at international schools. We are calling on ASK to make these changes to show an effort towards transparency in the decision-making process.

The reason that this website has been viewed almost 6,000 times by over 1,000 different viewers is because it gives a voice to members of the ASK community that have not felt that they have a voice at their own school. Teachers in particular do not feel that a stated “open door policy” (or open window) is actually an invitation to express opinions without consequences.

ASK has the opportunity to make simple changes to the way that they make decisions and disseminate information about those decisions with their stakeholders. We are calling on ASK to consider some of the following changes:

  • Show the members of the governance board on the school website.
  • Announce the schedule of board meetings and make them open to faculty and parents.
    • In fact, this is required for accreditation by Middle States. Standard 2.16 states: “Conducts a regular schedule of meetings that is communicated to the school’s community of stakeholders.”
  • Include teacher representation as non-voting members of the Board. This teacher (or teachers) would serve as a liaison between the faculty and the Board, transporting information in both directions. Teachers would be able to safely share concerns, feedback, and suggestions with the board while the faculty representative would be able to communicate information pertinent to the faculty after each meeting.
    • This is also required by Middle States. Standard 2.17 states: “Includes members that represent constituencies served by the school.”
  • Provide minutes from each Board meeting either to the faculty by e-mail or publicly on the school’s website.
    • This would serve towards standard 2.18, which states: “Maintains appropriate and constructive relations with the school’s leadership, staff, students, families, the community, and with each other in the interest of serving the needs of the students.” It would currently be easy to argue that there is no relationship between the board and any stakeholder group other than administration.

We sincerely hope that the members of administration and governance at ASK will seriously consider these suggestions. As the school is due for accreditation visits next year, your ability to continually offer accredited diplomas to your students may depend on it. Many faculty, parents, and even some administrators have reached out to us here at ASK Reviews in the past few weeks to express support as well as provide encouragement and information. We hope that all of these people will also either publicly or privately encourage the leadership at ASK to consider these actions. Share this post and others with faculty, parents, and students – any stakeholder group at ASK – so that the number of voices can continue to grow and ASK can continue to improve.


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