Thursday, April 28, 2011

ATEK 4: Power to the Members

Update: ATEK's President is Resigning.
UPDATE II: ATEK's Official Statement Regarding Conflict of Interest Explanation of Disciplinary Procedures History of Removal of officers and members

Don't like something ATEK did recently? Think ATEK needs to improve something? Have some ideas about how to improve the organization?

Ultimately, ATEK answers to its general members, not to anybody else (as noisy as they may be). Every ATEK communication should include that fact, until the people who don't listen stop screeching that ATEK is claiming to represent them.  ATEK is a communication network of (number of associate members), and represents (number of general members) English teachers in Korea.

If you're not a general member, ATEK doesn't represent you.  It also doesn't answer to you, no matter how important you think you are, or how smart you are, or how loud you are.

If you ARE a general member, here's how to get involved, because if ATEK's general members get involved, and start exerting their will, that's a powerful thing... and if ATEK's general members can't be bothered, then maybe it is time for the organization to disband, and for its officers to find other venues to contribute to Korean society and the English teacher community.  They're out there.

Fact: ATEK's bylaws, as they are written now, say that a General Member petition must be heard by the National Council, if only 2% of ATEK's general members submit it.  If 4% are on board, you can demand a national vote/referendum.  Given ATEK's current number of General Members, that's about six people, so if you're a general member, you DO have the power. Tons of it.

Here's the section of ATEK's bylaws (their constitution) that gives you the power:

ARTICLE 14 Part 6
6 General Members may by way of submitting a petition to the National Council call for a referendum or general vote. Petitions must comply with the following requirements:
(a) The petition must be supported by a minimum of 4% of the total of all General Members of the Association.
(b) The petition must be an electronic petition in the form of an email.
(c) The email must contain the names and email addresses of the petitioning General Members.
(d)The email must be sent by a General Member to the National Membership Officer. The name and email details of the petitioning General Members must match the details on the National Membership list held by the National Membership Officer.
In article 7 of the bylaws, only 2% of ATEK's general members (about 3 people) need to submit the petition, for it to be required to go to the floor of the national council, at their next meeting, and voted on by them.

The general members hold the power in ATEK, and you need to know that.  And you need to use it.

Heres' how:

1. Get together a few ATEK members who want to shake some things up.
2. Go to the website (
3. Find the sidebar that says "GM Resources" - ATEK's new Webmaster has been moving things around (looks great so far), so it might move to the left or right side, etc..
4. Find the button that says "NC Petition Form" click it.
5. Follow the instructions.  Write out your petition. Be clear and specific.  If you want multiple things to happen, maybe even submit multiple submissions.
6. Upload it, as per the directions.  If you have trouble uploading it, email it to, and ... that should make sure it reaches the eyeballs that need to see it. If I missed anyone important, sorry.

And if you want to get something going, send me an e-mail (roboseyo, gmail) or contact me on facebook, and I'll put you in touch with others who are interested in moving and shaking as well.

Demand new membership bylaws, or meeting minutes to be posted on the website, or for the membership list to have personal information about teachers removed, or for bureaucracy to be streamlined, or for the NGO goal to be put off until the organization's figured out how to function smoothly. Call for ATEK's Ombudsperson to conduct an investigation into the things reported by 3WM if you're not satisfied with the investigation Tom Rainey-Smith did.  Demand that one be released to the public, or at least to General Members. Demand that the former officers involved in saying mean things about the organization be banned from membership for life. Or that they be made into the new ethics committee. Or anything else I recommended in my last post. Whatever.

Go for it! You have the power! You really, really do.

Comments will be open on this post, to have a discussion about what you'd like to see from an organization purporting to represent English teachers.  I'd like the comments here to be a place where people can discuss that.... so please place your comments allocating blame for the meltdown, and making, or challenging allegations, elsewhere.  He-said, she-said is playing out in other places so it's kind of unnecessary to re-state it all here.

If you wish to direct my readers to those discussions, you may put links in the comments to my site: I won't delete any links (once I find them: sometimes blogger's spam filter blocks things).

And don't worry: I'll read your comment: I keep tabs on those places, too.  You can even go on there and call me a poopypants for deleting your comments, or suppressing that kind of discussion at my site.

In other "good for English teachers" news, some of the people who've been waiting for ATEK to pull its act together, got tired of waiting, and are expanding the services that can be found on the AFEK website. There is now an open discussion forum there, in which anybody can participate.  If the forum there turns out to be anywhere near as useful as the F-visa only discussion forums on that site, it'll be an awesome resource once it's up and running.

Comments open. Moderation on. Please observe the terms of engagement.


Mike said...

Medical reasons? My arse!

Now that I've got THAT out of the way, here's my take on the situation:

I don't really care about ATEK's external policies any more. I mean... I care, but I don't. I'm not really a teacher these days, and I hardly remember what it's like to be on an E-2. Most ATEK news over the past few years gets a "cool" or a "meh" from me.

It seems to me that their real problem area lies with their internal policies. I think one of the fairer criticisms of the organisation has been a description of ATEK as a place for kids to go and use that stuff they learned in college. Academically sound, but honestly, it doesn't fly in the real world.

ATEK needs experienced people to help put their internal processes in order. I'm not talking about the kind of "if you need help with XXX speak to YYY" stuff. I mean the real meat of any organisation: People policies.

The membership guidelines are the bylaws: written by a lawyer (good) for lawyers (bad).

The ethics guidelines are the same. There is no plain English "members handbook."

The interpretation of the bylaws is a mess too. I mean... people can't read them, so they turn to the person who wrote them in order to have them interpreted. Cool... as long as she is here. Much to better to have a plan English version though, no?

And then there is their "disciplinary process." What transpired was a mess. There was a lot of cross-contamination and no independent process for ATEK to remove a rogue member (or for the member to be absolved).

The person in this instance (SC) should have had a disciplinary hearing with people he did not deal with on a daily basis. He should have then had a right to appeal the case with other people he did not deal with. Finally, if he wanted to appeal a third time, ATEK should have had some truly independent (ie. not teachers, let alone members) persons of standing in the community who would make the final judgement.

What actually happened was SC got into an argument with almost every person of power within the organisation. His relationship with the ethics officer was almost destroyed by the time the powers that be came to vote. The ethics officer made a recommendation (fair?) and the persons of power went ahead and booted him. Very emotive, highly controversial, and hardly ethical.

Then there's the other problem... The former President called an officers employer. The only defence offered was that it wasn't his main employer, and that it was simply a volunteer position (interns are employees too, dammit). Except they claim he was paid. Which would make him an employee...

Apparently, any ethics investigation would have highlighted any wrong-doing by the President, and so we have to assume the ethics investigation thinks this behaviour is ethical, or they did not investigate (incompetent).

This incident sets a precedent. It is now OK for ATEK to call a members employer. Or is it only to call an officers employer? Is it only OK to call people that do not fit ATEK's definition of employer? If so, what would that definition be.

All potential members should be made aware of the answers to these questions before they become members. Existing members should demand to know the answers now.

Former members should also find out as you are probably still an associate member (I was) and you need to know under what circumstances a call can be made to your employer.

If I were a general member right now, I would be trying to get answers to these questions, and I would also be looking to bring the Ethics chair up on ethics charges (failing to find evidence of unethical behaviour) or looking to remove the Ethics chair for incompetence (failing to respond to allegations of unethical behaviour).

Remember: If ATEK claim that the phone call was acceptable, or legal, you need to ask yourself... is this the benchmark by which they should be judged? Legal and ethical is not the same thing.

Chris in South Korea said...

1,700 words later...

cjc said...

You are a general member if you can login to the website and read any part of the forum.

Mike, write the petition(s), and ill back them. i know there are four other people and more who still hold GM status and will join in.

Complacency sucks ...

Roboseyo said...

I’ve felt for a long time that ATEK’s conception was flawed, not just the execution, but rather the whole idea, starting with the letters “T” and “E.”

Why limit the scope to just English teachers when there are so many others who face many of the same problems living in this country? Among my own acquaintances I find: film subtitle editors and translators, test preparation guide writers, accountants for large corps, small business owners, and yes, recruiters and owners of small single-teacher English schools. But from the start, it’s been about English teachers, and mostly teachers on F2 visas, who are for the most part transitory and have little or no connection to the country or even to the profession.

It would only make sense if they were going to get involved in labor relations or collective bargaining, and this is clearly proscribed by Korean law.

My attitude in the past has been, well, who cares as long as they do no harm – but lately, I’ve changed my mind, and largely because of the events John Rodgers described in Part 3, of the 3WM series.

Now I will tell people, “Do not give ATEK personal info about yourself. Do not tell them your phone number, where you live, and definitely not who you work for. Don’t even tell them your favorite flavor of ice cream. They are not to be trusted.”

Okay, okay, stop the torture! It’s Googoo Cluster Vanilla Crispy. Weezle Chocolate Brownie comes in a close second.

And that’s all you’re getting out of me.

Anonymous said...

The comments mod forgot to include a note to mention that the above came from me, The Bobster, and not from him, Roboseyo. It was one of a few posts that the Blogger software made to disappear into the void, and he replaced it here after I told him he's a great big poopypants, and resent them to him by email.

(It's not true what they say about Rob. Skid marks in the shorts occasionally, no doubt, happens to us all, but that's the extent, I'm sure.)

Anyway, he probably wants neither credit nor blame. Those are my words, no one else's ...

Roboseyo said...

dear me. I thought I'd included the "blogger ate this comment" at the top of this one, as well. My bad.

Eugene said...

Spider-Man's name has a hyphen in it. Go fix your post. His name is not spiderman, it's Spider-Man. As for anything else in the whole series of articles... I can't really say anything because all of it is waaay over my head.

I don't understand the challenges English teachers face, nor do I understand the threat of AntiEnglish Spectrum other than the guy who started it seems like he's not a nice guy.

Sorry I can't contribute anything more useful to the discussion, but spell my hero's name right...