Go Fund Me

To offset the expenses due to my library messing up and getting me kicked off my insurance, I’ve started a Go Fund Me campaign.

It’s vexing that a town with a median income of $216,000 are so stingy. Sadly, it’s not a big surprise though.

It feels odd to do this, but . . . I did have insurance till the library messed up. Wouldn’t you know they did so the one time I needed healthcare.

Pretty Late in the Game

I just was job hunting on tesol.org and saw that my former employer is hiring English teachers. Mind you, they’re supposed to start teaching next week. This ad went up yesterday!

I’ve learned that now teachers will pay about 47% in Chinese income tax and currency exchange fees. So English teachers, who usually put in 50-60 hours of work a week, will earn about $9.60 per hour for all their hard work. Baby sitters make more – some nanny jobs come with housing.

Clark is the ONLY foreign university in China doing this. Rochester Institute of Technology, NYU, University of Toledo and ALL the American and Australian universities I know of don’t have these high taxes.

I pity anyone who takes these jobs. I loved my students and even little Jinan (the other city Hefei is the pits), but the pollution, mold in the apartments and the utter lack of resources makes this job highly undesirable. What a pity.

Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that I prevailed in my claim for unemployment. Clark lied when they told the Unemployment office that I quit and in the hearing last month, that was confirmed. What their aim is to prevent their employees from getting the protections US labor law affords. Talk about disrespect and hypocrisy since the school purports to be “progressive.”

Steer Clear of Eton House International School

While Eton House International School in Jinan may be a good first job for someone who’s desperate to work in China, I advise teachers to avoid it. I’m writing a short ebook with more details but for now I’ll share the undesirable aspects of the school, which brings in between $800,000 to $1,000,000 revenue a year. The school staff consists of very nice people, but the school’s policies and poor communication make it a poor workplace. For 2017-18 three teachers have backed out of the position open to teach kindergarten. I’m not surprised.

Points to Consider

  1. The principal lacks experience and has only worked at Eton House International School in Jinan. She’s an example of the Peter Principle, where everyone rises to their level of incompetence. She’s a nice, young woman, but can’t prioritize and is behind in her work. For a couple years the school’s been publicizing that they’re going to be an International Baccalaureate school. The principle hasn’t begun the application. She’s getting the tutoring she needs to fill it out.
  2. Eton House Jinan does not have you sign a contract in Chinese, which is required by Chinese law and in fact is the only contract that’s actually good in China. If they change this, you should have a person who’s neutral, translate the contract for you. Often the English and Chinese wording are quite different.
  3. After you sign the contract, you’re in for numerous surprises. For example, the contract says nothing about the teacher having to pay 4 months’ rent and taxes for the apartment. It simply says you’ll be reimbursed every month for your apartment. Later you’ll be told to bring $2,000 to $3,000 for your apartment costs. Most jobs provide housing so there’s no need for you to take one that requires you to take from your savings back home and then be in arrears for months. You can negotiate for the school to pay the 4 months rent, but when you do, expect to have to remind them and do a bit more persuading so they follow through. Get any negotiated benefits in writing.
  4. Communication is horrible. The Principal’s Assistant is an intermediate English speaker with little understanding of business, education and adult activities such as finding housing. She’s your main contact. The Principal is often busy or off campus. She’s the only staff member who can make decisions. Good luck.
  5. If you have a Masters degree, you’ll be the only one at the school with an advanced degree. I can’t imagine how a school that charges $20,000 a year for pre-school lacks trained professionals of the highest caliber. Thus the conversation and thinking in curriculum and teaching is at a subpar level. Teachers just don’t discuss issues the way professionals do, though some think they do. You’ll see signs in the school for the “writting (sic) table.” You’ll hear teachers talk about the Inquiry Unit on Self-Expression about the Gingerbread Man story, a story where the lead character does not express himself in any meaningful way and where the students don’t do work where they express or think much about their opinion of the story.You’re better off getting experience in your home country and then moving to a real international school, one that already is International Baccalaureate.
  6. All the good jobs, and even the bad ones, I’ve had overseas provided teachers with free housing. With Eton House, you’ll be on your own. You get a housing stipend, but unless you want to live in a hovel, it’s probably not enough. If you teach for Eton House in a major city like Beijing or Shanghai, it will be about a third of what you need. Then on top of the rent, they’ll tell you after a couple days of apartment hunting, that there’s a 50% tax and a management fee. So all the time you’ve been looking at filthy apartments, you don’t realize that you can’t afford them.
  7. The teachers in Eton House Jinan must use the same restrooms as the children. Yes, that’s against the law in most countries — including China. Space is tight in the school.
  8. Space is tight in the school and they’ll eventually move to a new building, but for now there’s no teachers’ room. Teachers have a few tables with computers in the corridor. This lack of space and delayed move to a building that’s of appropriate size appears to be another sign of the principal’s lack of leadership skill.
  9. The school is most concerned with saving money. If you miss your flight to Jinan from a larger city, the first thing you’ll be told is that you need to foot the bill for the next flight. Concern for you as weary, perhaps lost traveler is nil. In fact, money will be a big topic at Eton House. The administration’s main concern is money.
  10. A lot of the problems at Eton House Chengdu (see this review: http://www.gochengdoo.com/en/listings/item/eto_32240/etonhouse_international_school) are evident in Jinan. That review was eye-opening. The principal in Chengdu has advised Jinan on curriculum design. Imagine!
  11. While cheerful and imaginative, except for the blatant Eton House posters which continue to sell the school, the classrooms lack a good selection of books in English or Chinese. There are a few, but no where near enough for 15 children. Like in Chengdu, there are few copyright compliant teachers manuals. The only one’s I saw were infringed copies of manuals for phonics.

For-profit schools have their problems and many are on display at Eton House. It’s a decent job because the salary is okay for someone who is new to the field or just seeking a job in China. The sort of professional nomad. If you have a degree in education, I’m sure you can do much better.

Considering a Job?

Dear EFL Professional,

If you’re wondering whether to take a job with Yucui “Education” Consultancy, Xiang Jiang High School, or Korea National University of Education, contact me. I can give you the low down. Not just my opinion, but that of others.

Remember I’m here to help.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

squalid room for teachers in Korea at KNUE

squalid room for teachers in Korea at KNUE

Nanjing, Presidential mansion

Nanjing, Presidential mansion

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge. Other great photos:

Returning

After a lot of back and forth with the University of Macau,I’ve decided to return to Jinan where I’m happy and know what I’m getting into. In teaching overseas there’s a lot of unknowns. Like many teachers, I’ve been burned by broken promises and false claims.

The trouble I ran into with this job arose over housing. As I’ve said, that was my first question when I was offered the job. I was told, very clearly told, that all overseas hires would get housing.

Then six weeks or so later, we learn that we have to apply for housing. There are 350 apartments and 1200 eligible employees. A point system would be used. Distinguished Professors get 75 points. Associate Professors, 60 and Assistant Professors 40 and Senior Lecturers and secretaries 20. Huh? Secretaries are valuable and I’ve done that work, but it does not require higher education and it’s not a source of a college’s reputation. Teaching is.

How insulting!

housing points

I’d get 30 points. Hardly in the running.

The contract, which was in Portuguese, stated that it superseded all communication between the employer and employee. Thus a director’s email promising housing had no weight. I wanted to practice negotiating, but my requests for changes in the contract were denied. I wasn’t just asking for special treatment for myself, but for all in the department.

In my interview I’d specifically asked about how the administration treated and supported the department. I got a bland “I think they value us pretty well” sort of answer, but the housing policy showed that wasn’t the case.

The problem with interviews is that you don’t really know what you’re getting into. No one honestly answers the tough questions.

I have reached a time in my life where I’ve learned to stand up for myself and insist on a certain kind of communication and organization from a prospective employer. As enticing as a salary might be, I realize it’s better to mind the red flags rather than move forward with a potentially iffy, hence stressful job.

I am looking forward to returning to Jinan in the fall so all’s well. I think in EFL and other fields there’s a temptation to disregard red flags. That’s usually a mistake. Job hunter, don’t sell yourself short. Hold out for a job worthy of your competency and dedication.

Job Hunting

I shake my head whenever I think about this. I never thought this new job offer would become so confusing and annoying.  I haven’t even been up to writing about it, though I’ve mentioned it ad nauseum to my friends. Now I’ve been approved to keep my current job so all’s well. It didn’t look good 10 days ago though.  Here’s a run down.

As I said when I got the offer, I asked about housing and was told it was available for all teachers recruited from abroad. That’s why I accepted the job.

Then the new teachers got an email about 60 days of temporary housing. What? That’s not what I wanted, considering Macau’s the 5th most expensive city in Asia. I wrote to the director explaining how important housing was to me.

A week later all the new teachers got a long email and one of the items was housing. We were told that all new hires would get housing and that anyone who wanted housing had to apply for it. Is this too good to be true all of a sudden? We’ve gone from 60 days of temporary housing and the possibility of campus housing in January to immediate campus housing.  That’s good.

Well, by Monday, the relief had worn off and I was back to doubting. According to a PowerPoint on how to apply for housing, everyone must apply for housing. Housing would be allocated according to job title, family size, and a few other criteria. Distinguished Professors get 75 points, Professors, 60, Associate Professors 50,  Assistant Professors 40 and lowly Senior Lecturers and Secretaries 20.

Twenty?! Talk about insulting.  Now I would get 10 points for getting recruited from overseas, but I am single so unless I get a live in maid, which would net me 10 more points, I don’t qualify for the additional points for a spouse or children. Since I’m new I can’t claim credit for years of service.

The contract arrived on Monday. After marveling at the Portuguese, I got an English translation. The contract states that it supersedes all other communication between the employer and employee. Seems the email promising housing would count for nothing. Also, once you sign the contract, you have to give three months notice before quitting. So if someone signs it today and finds out July 15th, she doesn’t have housing, she either works for at least a semester or pays three months wages to the school. I’m not sure how they’d collect, but that’s what is stated.

Another interesting document came with the contract. It was a booklet explaining what income and assets teachers, as government employees have to declare. Macau wants to end corruption, which is admirable. They require people working in Macau to declare property, income, investments, jewelry, boats, and airplanes owned – whether they’re in Macau or elsewhere. Employees must declare such assets with a value over 500 points. I couldn’t figure out what a point is worth, but it was interesting that they insist on this. How would they check the veracity of foreign employees’ declarations?

Not my problem as I’ll be back in Jinan, but it’s interesting.

That 20-point scheme for English teachers is just galling. I bet it indicates how we’re treated across the board.