Thursday, February 11, 2010

School Scandals

Kang Shin-who continues to cover the SAT scandal for the Korea Times. Despite the fact that there has been at least an article a day since the event, very little new information has actually been written about. Frustrating for me is that Kang keeps repeating this line without offering any details surrounding it: "When he was trying to leave his former work place, Recas Academy for another academy last December, the hagwon owner kidnapped and beat him up." 


The new punch today: apparently Jeffrey Sohn lied about having a PHd in politics from Columbia. People, if you have a PHd in politics from Columbia, why would you be working for a hagwon in Seoul???? Also, I wonder what sort of visa he has/had because for an E2 hagwon visa the embassy wanted a bazillion copies of my sealed official transcripts and my original diploma. Granted, apparently it's very easy to get fake copies made in places like Thailand but I wonder if the school had worked with him to mislead the parents about false credentials. Columbia is a brand name school in Korea, it would definitely have been appealing for parents to have a teacher with an advanced degree from Columbia, relative subject matter or not. 


In other news, the Times also reported about the fact that only 22% of middle school students are admitted to their first choice high school in Seoul.  I'm not talking about boarding schools, private institutions or specialty high schools; these are the average public schools available. On one hand, I understand that the theory behind this process is supposed to make schools more competitive and work harder to attract students. On the other hand I think it's a process that inherently favors students whose family can afford hagwons, private tutors and other capital intensive application enhancers. Granted, the system in the USA is hardly better since because of local taxes, high income areas inevitably have much more money to invest in their schools than lower income brackets do. President Lee Myung-Bak has mentioned consistently throughout the past 2 years that he wants to reform education and decrease the prevalence of private supplemental education. Personally, without serious investment in the nation's schools I don't any changes happening. Regulating hagwon hours will not decrease the demand for them.  Smaller class sizes, increased teacher training and resources, after school programs for public schools and assorted other tools could help. 


I want to help my students learn more and get ahead but in a class with 35+ students it's impossible to give them the attention and types of intensive lessons they need to learn English. I am constantly researching large class methodology but there is only so much one person can do. 


Random asides: 
-There is something sticky on my school mouse. Fail.
-My wrist still continues to hurt like the dickens despite the fact that it doesn't appear to be swollen or bruised. I'd get acupuncture this afternoon only as usual, I've got plans for the weekend pretty much starting from when I leave work. Dinner plans, the Busan Haps magazine issue launch party, a hip hop night at  club in Kyungsang....
That is of course, assuming I don't trip over anything else between now and the end of the day. 

13 comments:

alecminiero said...

It may very well be possible that you TOO have a fractured wrist bone miss!

But yeah, groups and the public and i hereby are not in the cards...i should've trusted my instincts (and heeded my year book quote) long ago.

Anonymous said...

What type of magazine?
Also time to go the the Doctor about the wrist?

Nancy K said...

Sounds like a very busy weekend! Enjoy.

Silent Bob said...

Maybe you should take the weekend off, stay at home, meditate, think about life and just rest a bit so that you can be fresh for the new term and leave the partying to the people that can take it. bahahaha

Alex said...

@ Alec, I doubt it, remember yours was a bit swollen/bruised. What was the year book quote?

@Anon It's a what's going on in Busan type magazine. Also, got some medical advice from a friend who said to wrap it for a day to keep it immobilized and take some anti-inflammatory. If that doesn't help by Monday I'll see the doc. But really, it seems like a muscle/tendon issue and there is pretty much jack shit you can do for those...

@ SILENT BOB: Pshah! Obviously your job is to try to keep me from tripping over anything new. Good luck with preventing the inevitable!

Silent Bob said...

Bahaha. I'll act like i'm tryig to help you but at every stairway, uneven piece of pavement, sojou bottle on the floor or anything that you could trip over I'll be right behind you giving you that extra little shove.

Alex said...

I'll be sure to tell all of the Korean girls who flirt with you that you are already married. :-D

Christian said...

You can get pretty much any falsified document in the world on Khaosan Road, and done well. People are going to make it in here with fake qualifications unless Korea starts calling up overseas universities to actually check if people have studied there.

Considering the qualities of some of my coworkers, I wouldn't be surprised if they used fake diplomas...

Alex said...

Agreed!

Silent Bob said...

Our president has 5 wives and 20 children... and a couple of illegitimate kids.
Why can't I have more than 1. haha

Anonymous said...

Sohn would have an F4(Korean heritage) visa and therefore not be required to show anything to immigration to obtain gainful employment. The visa itself is like a green card(excluding F1).

Verification or confirmation of transcripts/degrees etc. would be the responsibility of the indidual to provide them as the schools have no way of verifying them. You simply can't call up Columbia and ask 'did he graduate from there?'. They won't tell you as the freedom of information act protects individuals from witch hunts.

The in-house papers he provided where probably decent enough forgeries and Koreans usually take the easiest road possible. They probably didn't ask for sealed transcripts as it's only an immigration requirement for a visa and not in-house as I stated above.

Also Alex Koreans are pretty clueless when it comes to schools other than in silly dramas on TV. Harvard and Yale and Oxford, sure they know but Columbia would have them looking on a map of South America.

Alex said...

Thanks for the info Anon! I think it also helps illustrate that the stricter rules for regulating E2 teachers should happen across the board since people tend to be universally corrupt--it's not just us waegookin who lie.

Anonymous said...

Not so long ago there was a high profile Korean woman discovered to be a cheat. She was an art gallery curator of something of the sort. She was found out due to her horrible English skills so I heard and turned in my a monk no doubt.

Apparently she said she went to an ivy league school (Yale I think it was I could be mistaken).

Yes, like you said it's not just whitey who lies. In my history here I have come across many a Korean who have padded the resume to a point of being a multiple personality disorder case. The worst thing is they have sold themselves these goods so often they actually believe they are true.

I'm at the point where I simply don't believe anything they say in regards to education unless they show me evidence. I hate to be so distrusting but usually things aren't what they appear here.