You have arrived at the website of The American School of Kuwait Reviews, which is now an archive of a blog that posted actively from March 16, 2018, until May 27, 2019.
From this point forward, the blog will cease to be updated but will remain as an archive. To find old posts, navigate to the Index page. Posts there are listed in chronological order.
Why was ASKR created?
ASKR was run by a group of former ASK teachers who became concerned with the direction of the school under the leadership of its owner, Wael Abdul Ghafoor, and its senior administrators, namely Rebecca Ness and Michael Murphy.
We saw critical safety issues affecting ASK community members, namely:
- Lack of action against a (still currently-employed as of this writing) coach who physically disciplines children and calls them by profane names, including slang terms for body parts and derogatory terms related to sexuality
- Unsafe teacher housing, including extensive mold problems, bed bugs, and unsealed windows with gaps large enough to be able to stick your hand outside through what should be a wall. A faculty member’s child was even the victim of an attempted kidnapping outside of the apartments.
Additionally, we saw issues that hampered ASK in its attempts to recruit and retain faculty and that endangered the school’s accreditation status:
- A salary package that had not had a raise in years.
- A lack of support from administrators and difficulty with student discipline
- A general lack of transparency in school operations, including accounting practices that violate ethical standards and Kuwaiti law.
- Problems with administrative turnover including two principals who quit without notice in a 3-year time period.
- Frequent changes to employee health insurance that often involved changing the amount for which teachers were responsible. At various times, the school’s insurers refused to cover all or parts of necessary surgical procedures or medications. Several teachers who reported their medical needs during the interview process were told their specific needs were covered by insurance only to find out after arriving in Kuwait that this was not the case, sometimes being put out thousands of dollars.
- A hiring process for administrative positions focused on appointments rather than an open applications system for interested faculty.
- The falsification of documents by many members of the administration, including testing scores for tests that were not even given, meeting minutes, reports for accreditation, and more.
These issues pushed us to action. Our first priority was to write about issues affecting student and teacher safety. We also spent considerable energy writing about the ways in which ASK is losing its ability to remain competitive. We strived to make sure that our posts were based in fact, even when they expressed our opinions. We admit that we did not always achieve this goal. However, we feel we were proactive in rectifying such situations and hope that our ability to be self-reflective serves as a model to the leadership at ASK.
We believe that students deserve to learn in a safe environment. We believe that families that choose to spend money for a private education have a right to expect an exceptional teaching faculty and top-quality physical campus. We do not believe that ASK has offered anything remotely close to these standards in several years.
Because ASK is a for-profit company, those in ownership often make decisions that improve their profit margin at the expense of the students served by the school. We hope that our writing has raised awareness in the ASK community. We hope that all members of the ASK community will become proactive in pushing for change. We hope students, parents, and teachers will all make it clear to the school’s ownership that they will accept nothing less than excellence.
The blog has transformed from a series of posts about critical issues that affect ASK into a source of news about current events at the school. This was not our original purpose. For that reason, we have decided it is time to stop. Again, we hope that current members of the ASK community will pick up where we left off and find ways to insist that the school improve.
The blog will cease to be updated. It will remain as an archive. We have decided to take down the blog at a certain point in the future. We are acutely aware that, at some point in the future, there will exist leadership (including members of administration and of ownership) who were not a part of the current regime at ASK. We feel it will be unfair for them to have to answer for the mistakes of their predecessors.
Our hope for the ASK community
We hope current teachers will choose to stay and be a part of ASK’s future. Schools naturally benefit from longer-tenured faculty. Teachers acting as a unified group have the power to make change at ASK. We know that the teachers at ASK have the best interests of their students in mind, and we hope they will be motivated to push ASK into being the best possible school for these students. The school often takes the path of least resistance – faculty must make sure that there is immense resistance to the status quo.
As for current families – parents have perhaps the most power at ASK of any single group of stakeholders. As a for-profit business, ASK quite simply must respond to the demands of its customers. Families certainly have an interest in improving the school, and we hope that they will not be shy about making such demands.
As for prospective faculty considering a position at ASK – decide carefully. Do your due diligence. ASK can be a great place to work and grow professionally, but we hope you go into your position with your eyes open, aware of challenges that you will encounter.
Practice Compassion – Make a Difference – Learn for Life
is a wonderful ideal. There are many members of the ASK community who actively live this in their daily lives. However, many do not, and it is inconsistently advocated for by the administration. We think ASK will be a better place when the school leadership actively applies these principles in every decision that they make.
Falcons, we believe that everything you need to know, you learned in Kindergarten:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that are not yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life: learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day som.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder: Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up. And nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So, do we.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living. Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
Dear ASK community, stick together. You will always be better that way.
The American School of Kuwait Reviews Team