Education authorities and lawmakers plan to propose a bill to screen out ineligible teachers at private institutes or hagwon.
Under the current regulations, Koreans who completed at least two-year college courses are entitled to teach at hagwon without legal binding.
Officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology told The Korea Times, Friday that they are likely to submit a bill to ban inadequate teachers from working at hagwon.
"There have been no attempts to regulate eligibility of hagwon teachers by law. We plan to submit a bill next month, disallowing ineligible hagwon teachers, to the National Assembly," said an official in charge.
The first half of the piece is clearly talking about ethnic Korean teachers working in schools without undergoing the same background checks required of foreign English teachers on E-2 visas. Eligibility for the E-2 visa is, of course, regulated by law, but not all teachers at hagwon use E-2 visas. Ineligible would be a good substitute for "unqualified" in some cases, but currently, as the article says, uniform rules of eligibility for foreign teachers across the board do not yet exist.
"Unqualified," as we've discussed many times on this site, like yesterday for Kang's last piece, is an improper term because it's used as a catch-all to talk about teachers without visas or the proper paperwork, teachers without training as teachers or advanced degrees in TESOL, teachers who act unprofessionally, or teachers who dress poorly, use drugs, and date Korean women. Kang played with that ambiguity in his last article, in a piece supposed to be about ethnic Korean teachers hired by cramschools without undergoing background checks:
Both immigration and education authorities have long turned a blind eye to loopholes in screening "unqualified" foreign English teachers.
That inattention occasionally horrifies parents and students when such teachers show their true colors.
. . .
Police announced Tuesday they arrested a group of unqualified English teachers who habitually took drugs.
The first half of today's Kang Shin-who article is about eligibility, and about one of many pieces of proposed legislation. I'm sorry to see the discussion shift back to native speaker English teachers, and to inadequacy, though I oughtn't be surprised.
For now, a total of 13 bills related to hagwon are pending for approval at the parliamentary. Especially, a bill, proposed last year by Rep. Choi Young-hee of the main opposition Democratic Party, is seeking to tighten the screening of native English-speaking teachers at hagwon.
The bill is to mandate foreign English teachers to submit documents proving no criminal and drug records, whenever they are hired or transferred to other hagwon. It is because some E-2 or English teaching visa holders, once caught for taking drugs or sexually harassing children, were often found to be rehired at hagwon.
Rep. Choi said "We could have prevented those foreigners (from working at hagwon), if my bill were passed last year."
In addition, the bill stipulates ``cannabinoid" tests in drug check-up in order to detect marijuana users. The immigration authorities initially planned to conduct the tests on E-2 visa applicants, but the idea was scrapped.
Choi Young-hee is no stranger to this site. An article by Kang Shin-who appeared in the Korea Times on June 9, 2009, and you'll see what Kang wrote today about lawbreakers moving to new hagwon is taken almost word-for-word from a quotation by Choi's aide:
Rep. Choi Young-hee of the main opposition Democratic Party submitted the bills obliging foreign English teachers to present criminal record and health check documents, including HIV-AIDS tests, before they are hired at public or private schools.
Under immigration regulations, applicants for an E-2 English teaching visa have been required to submit those documents since December 2007.
``E-2 visa holders, once caught for taking drugs or sexually harassing children, were often found to be rehired at another school or hagwon,'' said Yeo Jun-sung, an aide for Rep. Choi. ``The proposed bills are to remove these loopholes from the current immigration law.''
Gusts of Popular Feeling looked at the three bills introuced last summer by Choi, a must-read. Here's something interesting:
Note the term “native English teachers” (원어민교사), and not specifically E-2 visa holders. Does this mean all native English teachers will have to undergo these requirements, regardless of their visa? According to Ben Wagner, who talked with an aide of Choi Young-hee, the answer is no – the bill applies only to E-2 visa holders. Still, those on other visas might wish the bill to be a little more specific in its language.
Also, when he initially spoke with them, Wagner told me that Choi’s office seemed to be unclear as to what an E-2 visa was or what its limitations are, as they seemed to be trying to stop people moving from job to job, something that, unless an employer closes their school, is impossible under the terms of an E-2 visa.
If you look at the statistics collected in the "Wagner Report" you'll see there's little cause for lawmakers or journalists to use "often" in tandem with drug-use or sexual harassment. The report shows, on pages 16 and 20 and with numbers from the Supreme Prosecuters' Office, here were 13 foreign teachers from the "Big 7" countries arrested for drug offenses in 2008, and 34 arrested for "sex crimes."
Nhrck Report 2
Kang's piece today concludes with another piece of legislation, one given attention on my site last year as well.
Another bill, submitted by Rep. Cho Jeon-hyuk of the governing Grand National Party, is to provide a mandatory course on Korean culture to native English speakers at elementary and secondary schools as well as hagwon
The Assemblyman said many foreign English teachers are involved in a number of criminals and the government needs to help native English instructors better understand local culture and also improve their teaching skills.
I first posted on this plan in November after KBS had a little blurb on it:
Cho said most foreign teachers in the nation do not have enough of an understanding about Korea’s culture and practices. He said the revisions are aimed at raising the quality of the nation’s English education programs by mandating that foreign teachers have better knowledge of Korea.
I did a follow-up in December, and wrote about it in the Korea Herald, the main idea of those three write-ups being the sort of "training" teachers do get at the already-mandatory orientation programs isn't especially helpful and doesn't address any of the challenges native speaker English teachers face in the classroom. It's interesting to note now that Cho brings up the criminal element, or at least Kang says he does, while those three write-ups last year approached the issue of training. Not even Kang's sloppy article last November put those words in Cho's mouth:
"Schools and hagwon hire native English speakers but most of them are visiting Korea for the first time and have no teaching experiences," Cho said.
I've talked about conflation and about the worst traits, real or imagined, or native speaker English teachers get merged into vague terms like "unqualified," and I see the spirit still leaves even when one word is swapped out for two others.