On Chris in South Korea on April 5th we read about a new teachers' organization forming out of Busan, announced through a post and series of emails that highlighted the personality conflicts among the groups' members. The conversation continues, somewhat, on Roboseyo, and the he-said, they-said has reached my inbox with a lengthy email I'm still debating posting. And, it continues on a lengthy Dave's ESL Cafe post that, if the intention was to endear people to Busan's FREED, accomplished the exact opposite.
That Dave's ESL Cafe post from "BUSTAK" starts off with the email from Barbara Waldern we read on Chris in South Korea. The poster felt strongly enough about it that he or she posted it on two different threads, the other one getting locked. The email, in case you misssed it, opens with a statement of purpose:
It has become very evident that an alternate teachers' organization is needed in order for teachers, especially those from abroad on contract in Korea, to organize and support each other. A collaboration began to establish FREED Busan, the First Response for English Educators, and the result so far is FREED in Busan and Gyeongnam-do. The purpose is to keep focused on the issues of teachers from abroad and build and maintain a service especially to address such issues because discrimination and other abuses against foreign teachers continue. It intends to be a first response system for newcomers especially. It will not be afraid to discuss the situation of foreign teachers.
And closes three paragraphs later with a jab at ATEK:
Disregard the statement made by Greg Dolezal as President of ATEK. His statement about the establishment of FREED and the people involved are erroneous as it is based on hearsay and guesses. ATEK had no business speaking for FREED. There has been no collaboration and will not be collaboration with ATEK about FREED. For further clarification, national ATEK leaders (through firstname.lastname@example.org) stole my email account and Facebook group page, which is criminal, and complaints are being made to authorities.
The "statement made by Greg Dolezal" was posted on Chris in South Korea as well, the passage of interest being:
A week or so ago, Barbara Waldern (former chair of the Busan PMA), Stephanie White (my competitor from Daegu in the first presidential election), and John Wurth (former chair of the Gyeonggi PMA) have formed their own human rights association that is intended to serve expat English teachers in Korea. They are focused specifically on advocacy.
It should be noted that both Ms. White and Mr. Wurth have both denied being involved with FREED in the capacity alleged by Mr. Dolezal. Ms. White's reply was included on Chris in South Korea's post, and Mr. Wurth replied in part as a comment.
The rest of the 3,971-word post is comprised of the founding charter, and two letters from FREED, the first of which from Ms. Waldern aiming to serve as
Refutation of untruthful remarks amounting to slander on the part of Greg Dolezal, national ATEK President, through his email campaign to defend defenseless actions against fellow officers and teachers with ATEK
and the second containing an exchange between Dolezal and an ATEK member, quoted by an unknown third party, followed by a series of refutations by Ms. Walden and prefaced on Dave's with:
Since Greg Dolezal, President of ATEK (with 25 votes nationally of a manipulated vote!), continues to circulated slander against Barbara Waldern, the founder of FREED, I am refuting the many untruths and slanderous statements he his making around the country. This is long, but it is necessarily so. I'll answer these attacks once. Unlike Greg, I have not been circulating emails all over the country to plead or spread poison. BW
I won't quote the entire exchange, and will simply direct you to Dave's to read it if you want. I've saved it in case it gets pulled.
But what I will share are some responses from Dave's users. From the duplicate thread that was locked is PatrickGHBusan:
How does this help anyone?
This public spat between ATEK, and the people who want to launch FREED should be kept private. This sure does not help "teachers" in any way, shape or form.
The tone of this thread is also disturbing due to the highly emotional vibe that permeates the messages written by Mrs Walden. For all its initial troubles, ATEK had been quietly doing better for the past few months. From what we can read here and in the blogs I listed above the president of ATEK sounds cool headed and seems to want to refuse to dive into the mud pit through insults. Good for him.
ATEK has split into two feuding factions. These were the folks who were going to represent 17,000 teachers? They cant even agree among each other.
Well, the US Congress does represent quite a lot of people and yet the members of Congress are pretty fractious, too. I think a lot of people are reading ATEK's mission statement and seeing it as a fait accompli. That organization says they want to become the group that can be the face, so to speak, of the NETs/GETs here. This public feuding is quite ridiculous, though. The publication of the E-mails in the OP of this thread, without a doubt, is quite unprofessional and undignified.
And from vaticanhotline:
This kind of reminds me of the People's Front of Judaea and the Judaean People's Front.
From the other thread, TheUrbanMyth:
And this just goes to show why a union for foreign teachers (one that actually will accomplish something) is never going to work here.
Too many people wanting to be chiefs.
Just another pissing match... like 100 that have gone before and many more who I am sure will come after
.... welcome to the ranks of yet another failed "union" attempt.
The whinging OP is a good reason not to follow the current leadership of EITHER group.
How old are they? Ten? When everyone decides to grow up and act like mature adults, let us know
I see this one going nowhere in a real hurry.
ATEK on the other hand, while on life support, has managed to make it a year. There is still a pulse and they are focused on building their membership. Down, but not out, time will tell.
This would be funny except these folks wanted to negotiate with the government.
A lot of people really like their lives to be dramatic, don't they....
I don't want these people working for me or representing me in any way. Thanks but no thanks. Get back to your own lives, please.
Some people either consciously, or unintentionally turn their lives into a soap opera.
Awesome! Another organization that will speak for me, but doesn't really care what I want. All these "we speak for all teachers in Korea" can bite my white a$$.
Noobs leading n00bs.
Let ATEK and FREED battle it out. If they think the national media and the Korean populace at large actually gives a rats ass, then they're more delusional than I originally thought.
In the end, both group will end up looking even more pathetic than now. Hard to imagine that. LOL
Good riddance to both of them.
And it continues like that for another page. I edited some of the comments for brevity, but didn't cherry pick the nasty ones from a wider selection. The reputation of Dave's ESL Cafe has gone downhill for years, and is considered a hotbed of negativity and immaturity by a good many teachers. Nonetheless, there still are some sensible and experience teachers posting there, many of whom spoke up on those two threads. If the goal of those two posts was to raise awareness about the new group, it succeeded. Thing is, the only thing people are aware of is FREED being more interested in bickering than in accomplishments.
I've received emails from parties involved, and I'm still debating whether I want to print them, and continue the trend of ATEK and its leaders using blogs as their mouthpiece. I'm not interested in providing yet another forum for leaders to bicker publically, and in poisoning the market further for teachers' organizations. I'm not, nor have I ever been, a member of ATEK, and though I see potential in having an organization for teachers, was not sold on the idea of ATEK at the beginning and have seen nothing since to warrant an endorsement. There is a hell of a lot of good work going on in the quote-unquote community, by Roboseyo and Gusts of Popular Feeling and Ben Wagner . . . and by all those teachers, professors, volunteers, neighbors, and friends who aren't known by name, and who prefer to keep it that way. It would behoove organizations not to assume these good deeds and these relationships don't exist already.