Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Education News

1) Some misguided government official in China has added the Korean-made TOSEL English proficiency test to the list of state-certified tests, according to the Korea Times, though they didn't put it quite that way.

TOSEL is apparently short for "Test of the Skills in the English Language" and you can see what the problem is right there. Even worse, as I have mentioned before, Korea is planning to replace TOEFL and TOEIC, administered by the US-based ETS beginning in 2012, with another Korean-made evaluation. This is akin to putting Barney Fife in charge of selecting police officer candidates, or making Homer Simpson safety officer of a nuclear power plant.

2) Korea's largest teachers' union has "turned its back" on the Lee administration's most heavily hyped education reforms following the recent election of the union's new leadership. Those goals are teacher evaluations and the new application system for school headmasters, according to a story in Korea Herald.

This is a replay of a nation-wide discussion we've been having in the US for twenty years or more over how to identify and encourage good teaching. The latest salvo was the Bush administration's Every No Child Left Behind, in which standardized testing was the sole identifier, and poor-performing schools were excluded from a Federal funding pot.

Still, the situation in the two countries is different--I think the last thing Korea needs is another layer of competition in the school system. And it sure doesn't need more standardized testing, not in high school, anyway.

3) Dong-A Ilbo has a follow-up on a story I wrote about here, involving teachers being sacked for joining a political party:
“Based on prosecutors’ notice of law violation and indictment documents, we examined the case to verify the truth, and found that the teachers’ action was a violation of the law banning political campaigns by civil servants,” the [Gyeonggi-do education] office said.
On the severity of the penalty, however, it said, “A heavy penalty to all of the teachers based solely on the ministry’s stance could provide leeway for the superintendant to abuse his rights to manage personnel affairs.”
“Because of the lack of evidence that the teachers actively participated in political activities, the demand for a lighter penalty is legitimate,” the office said. “Meting out heavy punishment across the board could cause unnecessary confrontation, dispute and confusion to our educational community and society.”

Sounds like level heads will prevail. Until one reads on to discover the national Education office is looking to sue the Gyeonggi ediucation minister for dereliction of duty to force him to fire the teachers.

4) Turns out I will meet only one class tomorrow, first period, and won't teach again until next Thursday. Of course, I still have to show up every day and twiddle my thumbs for a few hours.


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