A group of native English teachers are organizing themselves to come up with a blacklist of schools that they say don't treat teachers fairly.
According to the Web site of the Independent Registry of Schools in Korea (IRSK), the organization was created by Charles Hill and some other foreign teachers working in public schools here to rate schools in Korea.
The Web site says, "If you are considering employment in Korea at a public school, please visit our 'Watch List' page first before accepting any offers, to ensure you won't end up working for a school that has earned a negative reputation for acts done to foreigners previously employed at that school."
The article continues later with "Education authorities have showed no reaction to the Website," and it took me a good bit of work on the internet to find it. Here's the site, "The Independent Registry of Schools in Korea," and here's the Facebook page I had to track down in order to find it.
I'll give credit to Kang for covering a teacher's perspective by writing about this site, but I'm pretty sure Hill, or somebody else with the group, simply fed the link to the paper and they ran with in order to make the objections to the evaluations seem more pro-active and aggressive. No disrespect intended, but who is Charles Hill? Not that everybody in the paper has to be vetted by the blogosphere, but I've never heard of him, I couldn't find his site until I did some sleuthing on Facebook, and I wonder why it gets more attention than the very valid objections raised in my last post and especially in the comment section.
But talking just about the idea of such a site, I think it would work better for hagwon, because teachers going into public schools often don't know where they'll be placed until they get there. Additionally, co-teachers, coworkers, and principals are rotated in and out often enough to change the culture of the school from year to year, limiting the usefulness of single-school evaluations. It would probably be better to collect evaluations about provincial and city school boards---such as of Jeollanam-do or Suncheon---because the actions of a particular school are usually dictated by that central body.
There are a bunch of hagwon blacklists out there, but I'm not sure how seriously they're taken. An even bigger obstacle are the libel laws that make honesty a punishable offense. I've heard some nasty stories about hagwon, especially of one in Suncheon, but people are afraid to post them online for fear of being sued, since even writing the truth can get you in trouble if it damages somebody else's reputation. Prominent blogger ZenKimchi went through that two years ago, so I'll direct you to his account and Michael Hurt's coverage of it.
This fear will also influence people writing about public schools. After all, there's only one native speaker at a public school at any time, so it won't take much work to figure out who's posting "anonymously" about a particular school over a specific period of time.
Nonetheless, if the new list gains traction and gains widespread popularity---something the hagwon blacklists haven't done because they're simply too unreliable---it would provide some necessary balance to job ads like this, from a high school in Jeollanam-do's Yeonggwang county:
Few things you need to know before you apply for this position.
- Yeonggwang is pretty rural.
- This school is an alternate school. All the students live in dormitory.
- You will teach at both middle and high school.
- The last two teachers were very troublesome, so this time they really want to hire a genuine and reponsible teacher.
- The school staffs are all very nice and kind.