subjecting myself to another few weeks of pain and torment integrating myself better into Danish society, I recently signed on for another round of Danish classes. A combination of extended out-of-country traveling and the demands of a new job mean two years have passed since the last time I sat myself down at least twice a week to agonizingly memorize the 15 sentences of Danish (among other things) required by K.I.S.S (Copenhagen's Intensive Language School) for each class. Actually, I enjoy learning Danish, but I'm not a natural at languages, so it's a lot of work and very time consuming - and provides a fair amount of amusement for others, though not myself, as I stumble and stutter to form meaningful sentences. And that's not to mention the cost, call it a tax for living in a foreign country, on my social life as I dedicate some 15 hours of class and study time in the evenings each week. It's a lot.
But, an unwanted reprieve was at hand, just in the nick of time.
Much to my dismay my language school of choice, KISS, a private language school that receives the bulk of it's funding from the local Copenhagen government (who pay for most of the students, myself included), has effectively been forced into bankruptcy this past week by the overzealous lot at Copenhagen Kommune. It's the consequence of a simmering dispute, over some 4.5 million kroner (600,000 Euro) that the local government claims K.I.S.S. owes, that has now boiled over.
The escalation of the dispute began in July when funding to K.I.S.S. was cut off quite suddenly by the local government. Unsurprisingly, K.I.S.S. disputes the amount it is claimed it owes.
The story goes, very loosely, like this:
K.I.S.S. was receiving some 8,000 kroner per student enrolled from the Copenhagen Kommune, and the Kommune in turn received 18,000 per student from the national government to pay K.I.S.S. - got it? So quite a profit was being made by the local kommune. But K.I.S.S. claimed it couldn't balance the books while being paid this amount of only 8,000 kroner. Furthermore, a change in legislation meant the local government could no longer pocket the difference - the 10,000 kroner profit it made on each K.I.S.S. student. It should be noted that the local government runs it's own language schools - language schools that are not nearly as highly rated as K.I.S.S. in terms of the performance of their students, but for which the municipality receives 18,000 per student (significantly more than the 8,000 kroner K.I.S.S. receives). Hence why I, and many other, opt for K.I.S.S..
After a lengthy fight, the amount paid to K.I.S.S. was increased to 10,000 kroner per student, and K.I.S.S. was able to balance the books, at long last. Shortly thereafter came the letter informing K.I.S.S. it was time to pay all the money back that it owed, apparently from the times when it couldn't balance the books. That amount, claims the municipality, is some 4.5 million kroner.
There's obviously plenty of politics at work here, perhaps from both sides. There is surely a way to find a way to resolve this dispute - without closing the school.
Of course, out of all of this it's the students, such as myself, who suffer.
The K.I.S.S. method of teaching is absolutely unique (and Steen Christiansen, the head of the school, owns the copyright). I can attest first hand that it works (I made it to level 5 of 11). It's tough, much like being in the military (I imagine), but effective. If you can't keep up, you are booted out. That is, you are obliged to continue repeating each level until you pass. I've done that too.
I'm not sure how this will end, but I can tell you this much: my stated ambitions for my stay in Denmark of 'becoming Prime Minister' (well, you see, that was what I told my 'Danish Integration Officer' while answering one of at series of irrelevant questions I was obliged to answer during the recent 'integration to Denmark' interview that I was obliged to attend - I had to tell him something!), if not derailed, have certainly been delayed. But I'm a patient guy.
We'll see how this unfolds, this story is not over. I'll keep you updated.
Or check out http://www.kisscontinue.dk/ for the latest updates.