US teacher arrested in Russia for ‘large-scale’ drug smuggling

Posted on

Marc Fogel said he was busted with medical marijuana, not realizing it was illegal. Police have now upped the stakes in their case against him.

Russian officials said Thursday that a former U.S. embassy staffer in Moscow is facing up to 20 years in prison after police charged him with “large-scale” drug offenses.

Marc Fogel—an American citizen who now teaches English in Moscow—was arrested back in the summer of 2021 after he was caught with marijuana in his possession upon arriving at a Moscow airport. He said at the time that it was medical marijuana, which he had been prescribed after an operation on his lower back, and that he was unaware the prescription would not be valid in Russia.

Now, Russian police have upped the stakes considerably, charging Fogel with trafficking and possessing narcotics on a “large scale” and hinting at even more charges, with investigators suggesting he may have used his diplomatic immunity to run an entire drug smuggling ring.

“Marc Fogel was a teacher at the Anglo-American School, and before that he was an employee of the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Until May 2021, like his wife, he had diplomatic status. According to one version of the investigation, [Fogel] could have used that to organize a channel for the flow of drugs into Russia with the aim of selling it among students at the school,” police said in a press release carried by Russia’s TASS news agency.

A LinkedIn profile for a Marc Fogel notes his position at the Anglo-American School, but makes no mention of employment at the U.S. embassy.

Russian authorities provided no evidence for their allegation of a possible drug-smuggling ring, but said Fogel would be held behind bars until trial out of fear he could otherwise hide at the U.S. embassy to avoid prosecution.

The U.S. Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast on the charges against Fogel, which come as U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to their lowest level in years.

In a statement to RIA Novosti, spokesperson Jason Rebholz said only that the embassy was “monitoring the situation.”

The case went largely unnoticed until police announced the hefty charges against Fogel on Thursday. He faces up to 20 years on charges of the illicit transport and possession of narcotics.

“He says that he didn’t know about the existence in Russia of a ban on medical marijuana,” said Alexander Khurudzhi, a member of the public monitoring commission of Moscow and head of the human rights committee of the party “New People,” after visiting Fogel in detention in December.

At that time, police were quoted in local media saying he was found with about 17 grams of marijuana at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Police now say the drugsmarijuana and hashish oil—were “carefully disguised” and hidden in packaging for contact lenses and electronic cigarettes before being stuffed into sneakers. They did not specify the amount confiscated.

The Anglo-American School did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Fogel’s wife, Jane, who investigators have also implicated. Police claim she “managed to get rid of evidence located in [the couple’s] apartment” ahead of a search of the premises.

Police are now said to be looking for “accomplices” in the alleged scheme. RIA-Novosti reports that investigators have also raided the school where the “former American diplomat” worked.

Male Teachers Are Wearing Skirts To Class In Order To Protest This Student Getting Expelled Over It

Posted on
Image credits: borjamusico

This is education done right. The teachers of Spain are standing in solidarity with a male student who was expelled last year for wearing a skirt to class by showing up at their jobs clad in skirts themselves. It’s all part of the Clothes Have No Gender (#laropanotienegenero) movement that aims to put an end to stereotypical gender norms in the European country.

The movement was at its peak in late October and early November of 2020, but very recently it has gained lots of renewed attention both in real life, online, and in the media, as more male teachers joined the protest.

At the start of May 2021, 37-year-old Manuel Ortega and 36-year-old Borja Velázquez started coming to class dressed in skirts, in response to a recent case of bullying at the Virgen de Sacedon primary school in Valladolid where they work. In this particular case, a boy was bullied for wearing an anime sweatshirt, had to endure homophobic slurs, and took the piece of clothing off.

Image credits: borjamusico

Teacher Borja Velázquez, along with his coworker Manuel Ortega, reignited the Clothes Have No Gender movement after a recent incident

They both decided to wear skirts to class and teach their students about tolerance after a student at their school was bullied for the clothes he was wearing

Naturally, Ortega and Velázquez were outraged at the bullying going on in their school and decided to join the Clothes Have No Gender movement in order to promote tolerance, respect, and diversity.

Both teachers are educating their students about how to break prejudices that they might have learned from their parents while at home. According to Velázquez, who spoke to El Pais, the most read newspaper in Spanish online, they wanted to teach kids that words hurt and that there was a need for change.

Some of the things they taught their students include that it’s all right for boys to be in the kitchen or to have long hair while it’s also perfectly fine for girls to love soccer and have short hair.

Ortega (left) and Velázquez (right) are fighting against gender stereotypes. They’re among a number of Spanish male teachers wearing skirts to make a change.

Idaho House Passes Teacher Health Coverage Bill

Posted on

Idaho teachers are one step closer to getting more affordable health coverage.

Major legislation to bring school districts employees’ health care coverage up to the same standard as that of state employees passed the Idaho House Monday on a 55-14 vote, after an hour of overwhelmingly positive debate.

“Y’know, 16 years ago I ran for the Legislature, and before I ran I never did check to see how much they paid us or what the benefits were,” Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, told the House. “I was surprised when I got here that I got health care for 125 bucks a month. That really was a big benefit that I never thought was out there. And I made the assumption that teachers also must be on this state plan and have the same benefits that we have.” But they don’t, he said.

Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, the bill’s lead sponsor, said he’s worked on the legislation for four years and been in at least 100 meetings about it. He said there’s “quite a gap” between what the state spends a year for state employee health insurance – including for legislators – and what it provides for teachers. “We pay $12,500 for state employee health insurance and $8,400 for teachers,” he said. “For a decade we’ve been trying to get that up to where the state employees are, we just haven’t been able to do it or have the resources to do it. There’s been many challenges. … It’s been hard for teachers.”

The change will have a big price tag: $105 million a year, plus a one-time buy-in fee of up to $75.5 million. The bill, HB 443, sets up the fund, though lawmakers still will need to vote on an appropriation bill. It also repeals an existing program that provides leadership bonuses to teachers who take on extra duties that now costs more than $19.7 million a year to partly offset the cost.

House Education Chairman Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, who originally spearheaded the leadership premium legislation, said, “Much as I love that, I think the trade-off here … is so much better.”

School district employees, including both teachers and classified staff such as cafeteria workers and bus drivers, now pay up to $1,500 a month for health insurance with up to a $5,000 deductible, said Furniss, an insurance agent. Some lower-paid workers actually end up having to write a check to the school district for their insurance each month, because premiums exceed what they earn.

“I think we can do better,” he said.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it would need to clear a Senate committee and pass the full House to reach the governor’s desk. Gov. Brad Little championed the change in his State of the State message to lawmakers this year.

Only Reps. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, and Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, spoke against it during the House debate. Nate raised technical issues about the fiscal note and at one point was reprimanded after he suggested his opposition would be used as a “soundbite for the next campaign.”

Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, said she checked with the state Division of Financial Management about the fiscal note, and was advised that a bill like HB 443, which creates a fund but doesn’t allocate money to it, has a zero fiscal impact. Backers of the bill, including co-sponsor Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, said it would be up to the Legislature’s joint budget committee to vote on the funding, and the House would get a vote on that as well.

Treasure Valley representatives overwhelmingly supported the bill, but three – Reps. Greg Ferch, R-Boise; Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton; and Joe Palmer, R-Meridian – voted against it. None of the three said why.

The bill would allow school districts to join the state employee health insurance plan, or to use the increased funding to negotiate for better coverage from other insurers.

Among the many House members speaking out in favor of the legislation was Rep. Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell, who said, “As an educator of 32 years, I’ll tell you there has never been a harder time to be in education than there is right now. And it’s not just teachers – it’s also every other staff member that is working there.”

Rep. Matt Bundy, R-Mountain Home, a high school teacher, said as a retired Air Force officer, he came to teaching as a second career, and brought his health coverage and pension with him. “When people hear that I’m a retired lieutenant colonel from the Air Force and that I teach school now, very frequently do I hear, ‘Oh, you can afford to teach,’” he said. “I want people to be able to come into education and receive the respect and the benefits and the health care that they deserve.”

Horman said the bill could help reduce property taxes, as some districts now have to turn to supplemental tax levies to fund health insurance.

Boyle said, “I come from a rural district, as you all know, and those small rural districts have struggled mightily to try to come up with some money to help their teachers on health insurance. It can be a tremendous cost. And the last thing that we want is more supplemental levies to pay for that. So this is a chance for the state to stand up and put their money where their mouth is about really helping teachers.”

Scott drew several objections after she claimed the bill would give the appearance of benefiting Blue Cross due to campaign donations; it currently holds the contract to administer the state’s self-funded employee health insurance plan, but that contract goes out to bid again within the next year.

Horman told the House, “It doesn’t go to any particular insurer. … Districts will be able to take these funds, go out to bid.”

“We’ve heard in testimony from teachers who had to leave because their salary was insufficient to provide for a family,” she said. “I have never believed that we would solve the salary problem in this state until we solve this.”

A full dozen House members from both parties spoke out strongly in support of the bill during the debate. Said House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, “This is wonderful. This is what I came to this building to see happen.” 

This article originally appeared in Idaho Press. Read more at IdahoPress.com

Study Reveals New Texas Teachers Leaving The Job After Just 1 Year

Posted on

According to the 2020-2021 Texas Teacher Workforce Report, nearly 50% of teachers resigned after the first year.

A recent study shows that new teachers in Texas are quitting their jobs at an alarming rate after the first year. This is a problem that educators are adding to the staff shortage that the district is already facing from the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, in the first year of the teacher, we see a lot of burnout,” he said. Houston Teachers’ Federation 2020-2021 Texas Teacher Labor Report, it turns out that almost 50% of teachers quit after the first year.

Lamar CISD recently had a first grade teacher send a viral video for recording. “I want to be fired at this point. If I had to stay here, I would literally hurt myself,” said an unnamed sixth-grade teacher at Harry Wright Middle School.

After that, the teacher took a leave of absence. The district sent a statement condemning the teacher’s comments.

Anderson says he will shed light on the bigger problem. “I got a call from a teacher asking how to get out of the contract without penalty.”

She says there are several factors that contribute to the deficit. One is the lack of teachers and staff due to covid.

“This really creates difficulties. Teachers there need to double the classes to cover additional classes,” Anderson said.

Another thing she says is payment. “One of the things they have to do is start compensation. If you have to do a couple of jobs to achieve your goals, you will burn out. As an educator for 33 years I can tell from my experience.”

It has been reported that Texas’s average teacher salary from 2011 to 2019 increased little or no.

“We need to seriously consider the renewal of education and what is expected and needed,” Anderson said. She says the shortage has a direct impact on the classroom, “the conclusion of this is that our students are suffering.”

Gov. Kemp Endorses Teacher Pay Raises In Georgia

Posted on

In his fourth State of the State Address, Gov. Brian Kemp announced he plans to increase funding for public education and increase teacher pay.

“My Fiscal 2023 budget proposal will include a final installment of $2,000 to finish out the largest teacher pay raise in state history – a total of $5,000 since 2019,” Gov. Kemp said.

In addition to teachers, school support staff and administrators would get a one-time $2,000 supplement as part of the governor’s proposed 2022 amended budget. Bus drivers, nurses, and part-time school employees would get a one-time $1,000 payment.

“Hardworking Georgians in our schools – the school staff, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and teachers – all do a terrific job keeping our kids safe and investing in their futures,” said Gov. Kemp. “To support their heroic efforts day in and day out, I believe we as state leaders must continue to do everything we can to ensure they have the resources necessary to fulfill their mission and prepare the next generation of leaders for successful lives and careers.”

Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, said she found some of the governor’s proposals encouraging, but was “extremely disappointed” by what he did not propose.

“We need to invest in our schools and students.  I am glad that the governor is finally fulfilling his promise to raise teachers’ pay, but there is so much more needed in education, especially right now.  Online school has exacerbated the learning gap between students of means and students without means,” said Sen. Butler.  “Remember that the ‘B’ in QBE stands for basic.  While doing the basic minimum is important, we can go beyond that and shoot for excellence.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Egyptian Teacher Fired Then Divorced By Husband After Her Belly-Dancing Video.

Posted on

Egyptian Teacher, Aya Yousef, was fired for “misconduct” and later divorced by her husband after she was filmed belly-dancing at a work social event on a Nile boat by her colleague reportedly without her permission.

“My life was destroyed because of the video from an unscrupulous person who tried to tarnish my reputation and brought the camera close to me only to show me in a bad manner,” she told journalists, adding that she would take legal action against the person who filmed her. 

According to BBC, the video sparked an outcry among Egyptian conservatives. “Education has reached a low level in Egypt,” one person wrote on Twitter. “Teachers are supposed to be role models. This sets a bad example,” another said.

However, Ms Youssef found support from women’s right activists in her country who called her a victim of a “witch hunt”.

The head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, Dr Nihad Abu Qumsan, offered to help her file a complaint against wrongful dismissal, while a deputy director of a secondary school in Egypt shared photos of herself dancing at her daughter’s wedding.

After a wave of support in her favour, local authorities have appointed Ms Youssef as an Arabic teacher at a new school. “The decision of the Education Directorate in Daqahlia to return me to my work made me feel that part of my life began to return to its nature and that part of my dignity was recovered,” she said.