Not many years ago, most people would say... "Only in America!" when some crazy new trend took root. But today, perhaps we should substitute the word "China". This is too good to ignore, so we optained permission from China Scam Patrol to publish the following piece...
Did you ever wonder how Chinese school principals who officially earn the equivalent of $8,000 - $10,000 per year can be driving very expensive Mercedes Benz, BMWs, Audis, Porsches, and Land Rover luxury cars? How can they afford to buy apartments costing more than 5 million yuan? Wonder no more…
Actually explaining this mystery also solves another of “Why do Chinese schools never hire directly and insist on hiring only through agents?” So here’s the scoop on both matters as revealed and confirmed by a former Vice-Principal at the huge H***** Kindergarten chain of Beijing. Now that she is safely residing abroad, she had no qualms about dropping the dime on her former employers which she claims is just “typical of the entire education industry in China”. Here is what she wrote to the China Foreign Teachers Union in an email accompanied with a 3:12 audio recording of a H***** principal complaining to an agent that “My payment is late again Wu, and if it happens one more time, I will replace you with another agent – do you understand?” (Translation confirmed to be accurate by two translators)
Chinese schools in China love having white-faced foreign teachers on their staff as status symbols that suggest to parents of new prospective enrollees that their school is international with a modern global curriculum. The thinly-veiled façade actually works in most cases. So schools will budget between 15,000 to 20,000 yuan per month to hire a foreign teacher and an average school of 500 students may have 5 to 7 foreign teachers on staff. (140,000 yuan Total average monthly budget for foreign teachers)
However, they will never advertise or recruit foreign teachers directly. Instead Principals opt to use a friendly agent who will advertise the position for 10,000 yuan per month. The extra 5,000-10,000 then gets split 50-50 between the agent and the principal. Multiply this by the 5-7 foreign teachers on staff and you will see that a principal more than triples her official salary each month and yet never can be directly implicated of corruption because the agent assumes all the risk. But since 80% of all agents and recruiters in China are not licensed nor registered, and thus unregulated, or even monitored, the risk is almost non-existent. A sample contract recently supplied by American teacher Katherine Cox shows how one infamous Beijing agent (Rebecca Tang of China ESL) actually deducted 66% of the teacher’s salary! How much of this $ made it’s it way to the principal’s pocket? The industry standard is 50%. Our information is that in case of “problems” it is the agent’s duty to cover the expense of bribes.
Principals earn another 10,000 yuan per month allowing parents of their students to be solicited and milked by other companies in the education business such as those who peddle books, music , dance, or art lessons, children’s photography, etc. by secretly selling the database of their enrolled students.A sample of such a database is below which include the child’s name, grade level, mother’s name, and mobile telephone number. Principals can be capitalist whores at times.
Yet another truly unethical income stream generated by the Principals is calling the parents in for a private after school meeting to tell them that “Little Ying is falling behind the others in one subject or another and may get very low scores if she does not get some private tutoring.” And of course, the principal just happens to suggest a friend of hers who offer s just such private lessons on weekends or after school. According to our vice-principal source, the standard kickback on this ploy is 2,000-3,000 yuan and at least 10% of the parents will be targeted for this scheme. So, 10% of 500 kids = 50 students X 2,000 yuan = 100,000 yuan per year. Now when you do the math on all of the above, you will solve yet a third mystery… Why foreigners are never hired as principals of Chinese schools – even if they are fluently bi-lingual? Why share all this tax-free cash with a foreigner?
Then, as Chinese tradition has it, every year at "spring break" which is Chinese New Year, students will give their family members and their principals the famous "hong bao" which literally translates into "red envelope. (See photo above) What is inside these hongbaos? Usually five or ten of these...
Now do the math... 300-500 students all giving these nice red envelopes filled with cash. Hmmmm. For students who may be failing or doing badly in school, the envelopes are generally much fatter.
But the most unethical principals make even more money by selling invitation and release letters to foreign teachers knowing full well they cannot obtain a working visa or accept a new job without them. The famous agent Rebecca Tang openly admitted her cut is 2,000 on the BBeijinger forum. http://www.thebeijinger.com/forum/2013/01/31/beware-chinaesl-scam-alert-rebecca-tang-will-rip-you and here http://www.thebeijinger.com/node/1592803 Another principal in Wenzhou was caught extorting 25,000 yuan from U.K. teacher D.L. who has only two choices - pay the ransom demand, or go home to Britain! http://www.tefl.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=5740#p13544
Another Chinese school principal L.J. affiiated with BFSU's English Tutoring program just came back from her annual one month vacation to Hawaii - all compliments of her agent buddy who lives there. The one month vacation easily costs $10,000.
The China Foreign Teachers Union has so far identified 37 such principals playing the above game and is submitting their report to the Minister of Justice when the new regime comes to power.(read between the lines here folks)If nothing is done within thirty days thereafter, they say they will publish their report on line for all to see. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. ;-)
Note To Foreign Teachers: Most international schools and top Chinese universities do not play this game, but smaller universities certainly do. If you know of a corrupt principal and have the details, help us out her/him in strict confidence by sending us the dirt to tips@ChinaScamPatrol.org. If you have already been swindled in a Chinese scam and just want to warn others, or you want to check the largest blacklist for China vist www.CleverChinaCheaters.com. If you are thinking about working in China, we suggest you visit www.ChinaScamBusters.com