Update 2: Alex Au of Yawning Bread weighs in on this.
Update 1: According to the papers, MOE has since apologised for their mistake and reinvited Susan Elliott.
The Ministry of Education has a lot to explain for this fiasco.
It seems that this September, the Ministry of Education is hosting a major education conference and one of the top American teachers, Susan Elliott, was invited.
Then when they allegedly discovered she is hearing-impaired, they disinvited her, citing "miscommunication".
Whether they disinvited her because of her disability or not, this is a PR disaster and fiasco of the highest order.
If you have already invited the person, leave her invited lah. Why retract it unless you found out she is some kind of terrorist or a potential threat to national security?
And if the MOE really disinvited her because she is, God forbid, DEAF, then shame on you, Singapore education officials. You deserve all the international and domestic derision you will get for this.
(A reader suggested the conference may be the Teachers' Conference 2010.)
Read the blog post at Edweek.org
Singapore will be hosting a major education conference in September and has invited distinguished scholars and teachers from throughout the world to share ideas and presentations. One such distinguished teacher is Susan Elliot, the 2009 Colorado State Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for the 2009 National Teacher of the Year (I may have pulled the sword from the stone but Susan will always best me as Lancelot did Arthur).
Susan Elliot has spent three decades in education and taught thousands of students. She is bright, articulate, and has a great sense of humor. She teaches social studies and history to mainstream and hearing-impaired students-all in the same classroom. Her unique ability to teach social studies and history to both "regular" and hearing-impaired students in the same classroom is a remarkable display of master teaching. Susan is the perfect educator to help represent America's teachers and deserves a key to this Asian City Upon a Hill.
Susan was excited about traveling to Singapore and sharing her ideas and experiences about methods that could develop the potential of all students to become independent, self-supporting and contributing members of society. And then came her dismissal.
Once the Singapore education officials discovered that Susan was hearing-impaired, they retracted her invitation. The so-called discovery and subsequent retraction of her invitation was an act of disingenuous statesmanship because the Singapore education officials knew all along that Susan was deaf. The official in charge of inviting and then disinviting Susan attributes the mistake to miscommunication. Wait a minute. Singapore is renowned for its academic prowess; surely the highly educated official could read a simple biography that very clearly noted Susan was hearing-impaired. The Singapore education system may be perched on a higher hill than the American system but something is not quite right.
Susan Elliot sent a few emails to Singaporean education officials, hoping the "miscommunication" was itself a miscommunication and the whole matter an innocent mistake. She had to defend her disability and remind conference officials that America's teachers and children are a diverse lot.
How did the Singapore officials respond? Susan was wished a successful future but remains persona non grata at the conference.
The Singapore system of education may be the envy of TIMSS groupies, and from a distance the city appears brightly lit in the night sky. But a peek behind the city walls reveals a flawed and ignorant culture of education. (cont'd)