We received a comment on our post “Students are not be allowed on campus” recently that we felt warranted further discussion. Here is said comment:
In more simple terms, the writer is saying that ASK employs bad teachers. While ASK has great teachers by the bucketload, this reader is not wrong. ASK does, in fact, hire bad teachers. A casual reader of our site might think that our position is that “all teachers are good” and “all administrators are bad,” but we encourage a more careful reading than that. Like any school, ASK has teachers with a range of skill level, enthusiasm, subject knowledge, and integrity.
The fact is, ASK struggles to hire any teachers at all, much less good ones. And while some of the bad teachers get let go, some remain. Likewise, some of the good teachers don’t always make it (sometimes due to false accusations), but many of the good teachers stay for at least a few years. If ASK wants a higher proportion of high-quality teachers, they will need to change their norms, culture, policies, and procedures in order to attract them. It is the mission of our blog to advocate for these changes, including but not limited to:
- Administrative change
- Qualified and experienced administrators who can provide professional leadership and improve morale will be more successful in recruiting teachers.
- Increased pay
- The pay scale is changing for next year, and teachers will make more money. But is it enough? Will teachers be satisfied with the new professional development fund structure? We foresee problems ahead. It is likely that this raise is both too little and too late.
- Better professional development
- The new pay structure seems like it is going to hurt professional development opportunity. Sending many teachers to as many professional development opportunities as possible not only increases morale and raises teacher competency, but it also puts ASK’s name out into the international teaching community at large in a positive light.
- Improved housing
- Thanks to basic google searches, this website, and ISR, prospective teachers have a good idea about where they will live before signing a contract. They know the pros (of which there are many) and cons of the housing and of Mahboula. Based on neighbourhood cleanliness, attempted kidnappings, distance to work, and overall maintenance neglect, we don’t think that the housing is a net positive for ASK.
Hindsight is 20/20, and for those teachers who have moved on from ASK, it is easy to see that all of these issues have caused for ASK to have less success recruiting high-quality experienced teachers. But there are other effects:
- Student discipline
- New teachers need time to develop classroom management skills. This is notoriously difficult at ASK. This problem is magnified by the ratio of experienced to inexperienced teachers – there is simply a lack of mentors available to assist new teachers develop these skills.
- Quality of incoming students
- Why would a prospective family send their students to ASK? Many families judge schools by tuition cost, assuming the most expensive is the best. ASK is not the most expensive. Some look at the quality of the physical campus – ASK is certainly not anywhere near the top of that list. ASK also fails to win in teacher experience, class size, and MAP test results. When the best students choose to go elsewhere, ASK is forced to take any student who applies. The days of a waiting list are long over.
When a school can’t recruit experienced high-quality teachers, then over time it will become less attractive to prospective families (customers). This creates a downward cycle, and ASK has been slowly surfing that downward cycle for quite a while now. This is, eventually, going to affect the revenue that the school is able to generate (ironic for a for-profit school). In our opinion, it is profoundly disappointing that Wael Abdul-Ghafoor inherited a school that was founded by his father, one that had a stellar reputation in the international community, and simply turned it into a vehicle for putting cash in his pockets while letting the teachers and students who were in the care of his school fall down the list of priorities.
In closing, we propose two questions.
- Why would a teacher choose to work at ASK over other choices in Kuwait?
- Why would a family choose to send their child to ASK over these other choices?
Frankly, we don’t have a good answer to either question.