The website has been shut down, however information will still be shared here.
On July 11:
For many reasons, but it mainly boils down to the threat of legal action against the founder, threats against those that were reporters and even against people who haven't even yet reported.
And July 14:
I had servers set up in the U.S., however it still contained one major flaw; any person posting negative comments against a hagwon or public school would cast suspicion on any current employees. The owner, (or principal) wouldn't be able to... determine who the reporter was, thus taking it out on current employees.
Additionally, although the IRSK had a lot of support in the beginning, it trailed off, and we were only getting one or two posts a month after the second month. This concept only works if we are getting posts everyday. If we were getting posts everyday, a dedicated staff, paid or committed volunteers would need to be put in place, something that would require great logistical planning and funds.
I had a very small staff of volunteers, however their abilities were limited due to a lack of training and communication. A problem often encountered by organizations such as this. Pan-national, and of people only partially interested in the cause.
I wrote about the site for the first and only time on January 1, 2010, after it received some attention in the Korea Times on the heels of a government plan to create a blacklist of "incompetent" foreign teachers. From the Times:
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."
I made Charles Hill cranky on his Facebook page when I wrote in my post:
[. . .] 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.
My point was, and is, that there's more to the issue of native speaker English teacher evaluations and blacklists of "incompetent" teachers---see here and here---than what amounts to a press release, and that if a reporter was going to cover the NSET perspective I would have appreciated some mention of the issues already being discussed and debated at length.
I was also skeptical of the usefulness of the IRSK, given not only the propensity for strong bias on blacklists and review sites, but the high turnover among teachers and administrators in public schools. From my January post:
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.
Knowing how much time a website demands, and how challenging it is to stay afloat with each new generation---new intake---of foreign teachers each semester, I'm not surprised the site didn't maintain its momentum.
Nonetheless I'm intrigued, and disappointed, by the idea that the site and its users were targeted for potential legal action. From a Facebook post on June 11:
Recently a number of hagwon owners have launched a campaign of fear against those that have filed reports with the IRSK. We at the IRSK want you to know ~ your information is safe with us. We never store information on computers in South Korea ~ so everything is outside the jurisdiction of the courts and the greasy hands of hagwon owners!
The possibility of legal action was always there---and, again, mentioned in my January post---given South Korea's libel laws, and provides yet another example of teachers being prevented from expressing their opinion in public. There are several other blacklists out there, with more coming and going all the time, though the anonymity of them and, again the high turnover of personnel at schools and academies really limit their usefulness to potential employees.