Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MOE reinvited Susan Elliott and apologised for not knowing her well enough!

MOE invitation: She feels the high of the roller-coaster again
Source: TodayOnline.com

SINGAPORE - When Susan Elliott, 56, received the invitation to present at the Teachers' Conference 2010 here in September, it was "a highlight of (her) career", the Colorado State Teacher of the Year 2009 told MediaCorp.

So, when the teacher with three decades of experience had the invitation retracted by the Ministry of Education (MOE) - due to a mix-up arising from her hearing-impaired status - it was "one of the lowest lows (she had) ever felt".

It has certainly been a roller-coaster ride, she recounted of the episode, which sparked online chatter in the United States and Singapore.

Now that MOE has reinstated its invitation, the English and social studies teacher feels the "high of the roller-coaster again".

"I believe the committee sincerely would like for me to present, and I'm moving forward in good faith," she said in an email to MediaCorp.

"I have much to learn about other cultures with regard to education, and I'm trying to see the light ... I'm looking forward to turning the Singapore experience into an enriching one for all."

MOE had contacted her last week to convey its apologies about the mistake, which stemmed from a misunderstanding about the need for interpreters and her professional experience. The Ministry had apparently thought that she worked only with deaf children.

But when Mr Anthony Mullen, who pipped Ms Elliott to the National Teacher of the Year award in the United States last year, wrote about the incident on an education blog, readers sent emails to MOE, which then took remedial action.

"We should have clarified these matters before making the decision. Ms Elliott has accepted our apology and the organising committee is delighted that she will participate at the Teachers' Conference in September. We look forward to her contributions in making the Conference a success," committee secretary Sucillia Sukiman emailed in reply.

Mr Mullen updated the blog on Friday to say: "The many letters and phone calls to the Ministry of Education have made them reconsider their original position. Susan is very excited about attending the conference and advancing the cause of disabled students. Without the care and compassion of the Singapore people, this would not have happened. Your City Upon a Hill now shines brightly to all students."

MOE had a real good and solid explanation for retracting her invitation previously. They thought that she worked only with deaf children. Apparently we have all misunderstood the innocent MOE. Apparently it was not the Ministry's idea though we could see that somebody did not do their homework. Apparently MOE sincerely would like for Susan Elliott to present though they do not know her works and contribution well enough to realise that she is not only working with deaf children.

However MOE could be in the wrong for another matter. And one that is even more serious! According to the report, after Anthony Mullen blogged about the incident on an education blog, and after readers sent emails to MOE, MOE then took remedial action. Apparently in this occasion MOE was “duped” by “astroturfers” into making hasty decisions! This is outrageous and simply daft! The honorable PM Lee has warned that the government cannot make decisions simply based on the volume of emails supporting or opposing a particular situation and must also be cautious of such astroturfing campaigns. How dare MOE fall into such trap after the honorable PM Lee's warning? How dare they give in to a blog and some emails so easily?


  1. If Susan happens to be gay, do you think for a moment whether MOE will ever apologise that she will not be a suitable role model for Singapore ?

  2. This is an excellent example of how deafness/hard of hearing is truly a "hidden handicap". If a Latino teacher was honored for his/her work with Latino students, there would be any backlash if they also had people with other racial profils in their class? I realize Susan has worked with the non-handicapped, but, she is being honored for all of her work in the community. To withdraw her invitation just because the MOE 'thought" she only taught deaf children is sheer discrimination along the lines of "deaf and dumb". The MOE owes all deaf/hard of hearing students an apology.

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