[A bill to] Insert a mandatory drug test for foreign teachers into the ‘Child Education Law’ has been dormant for ten monthsIt's worth noting that this bill was also mentioned at the end of this recent article:
During [the reaction to] the case of an American gang member working as a native speaking teacher who was arrested for drug crimes, it became known that a bill which would require foreign teachers to take drug tests has been sitting dormant in the National Assembly for almost ten months.
The Democratic Party Representative Choi Young-hee, member of the National Assembly Committee for Health, Welfare and Family, revealed on March 25 that “Had the ‘Child Education Law Revised Bill’ which I sponsored on June 9 last year been passed, the employment of problem native speaker teachers could have been prevented.” Rep. Choi’s bill to revise the child education law would require foreign teachers wanting to work at kindergartens, elementary or secondary schools, or hagwons to submit a Korean criminal record check and within one month of arrival, health check results including drug and marijuana tests.
However, this bill has been moored in the National Assembly and has made no progress for almost ten months. At present, drug crimes and sex crimes against children by native speaking teachers in Korea are on the increase. In a situation where there are no rules for verification, cases where English teachers who are not charged by police find a new job at a different school or hagwon [can occur].
Rep. Choi said, “Recently, demand for foreign teachers has been rapidly increasing due to things like English immersion policy, but verification and administrative measures to deal with them are non-existent.” “These bills should be passed at an extraordinary session of the National Assembly in April in order to provide a more secure learning environment for children and teens.”
Presently a revised bill proposing changes to the Kindergarten Education Law, Elementary and Secondary Education Law, and the Hagwon Education Law which requires native English teachers wanting to work in Korea to provide criminal records, a medical examination including drug screening, and academic background certificates has been submitted in the National Assembly, but the standing committee deliberations have not even been set up.The revised bills referred to at the end of the article are of course Choi Young-hee's bills which were introduced in the national assembly on June 9 of last year, and are translated here.
In order that we can believe in and entrust our children [to hagwons?] the National Assembly should promptly discuss this revision of related laws.
I like the neutral way in which the article is introduced: "[I]t became known that [this] bill ... has been sitting dormant in the National Assembly for almost ten months." Not "The person sponsoring the bill has jumped on this recent case to draw attention to it." The article mentions that
At present, drug crimes and sex crimes against children by native speaking teachers in Korea are on the increase. In a situation where there are no rules for verification, cases where English teachers who are not charged by police find a new job at a different school or hagwon [can occur].If you look at the bills themselves, you'll see that the statements above are essentially taken from the bills' purpose statements. What I don't understand is how a criminal record check for crimes committed in Korea will turn up anything if the teachers "are not charged by police" in the first place. As for those statement that "drug crimes and sex crimes against children by native speaking teachers in Korea are on the increase," the bill itself says only that "the crime rate among native English teachers is getting higher"; nothing specific about drug or sex crimes is mentioned. It may be worth mentioning that Rep. Lee Gun-hyeon's statistics regarding crimes by foreign teachers actually shows the crime rate to be dropping, but niggling things like 'facts' have little place in this discussion.
Rep. Choi said, “Recently, demand for foreign teachers has been rapidly increasing due to things like English immersion policy, but verification and administrative measures to deal with them are non-existent.” [Emphasis added]Odd. I do tend to remember the criminal record checks, notarized copies of said checks and diploma stamped by the embassy in my home country and sealed transcripts existing, and I know the health check occurred since I took photos of it:
There have been other suggestions as to how verification and administration of foreign teachers might be carried (see suggestion 4 here), but Rep. Choi's bills have nothing new to offer; in the end, the bills are practically calling for the status quo with a marijuana test and Korean criminal test added (though no AIDS tests). Nothing earth-shatteringly different there. It might be worth remembering what Benjamin Wagner wrote about his inquiries with Rep. Choi's office:
I pressed for stats for the statements "At the same time, however, the crime rate among native English teachers is getting higher,” and "Furthermore, there are native English speakers who have committed crimes in Korea and expelled from Korea for those crimes, yet these native English speakers are being rehired as English teacher in Korea a few years after their expulsion from the country."While on the one hand, it's nice to see someone actually going about making a group of foreigners submit to drug and AIDS tests in a transparent (and legal) way in the national assembly (as opposed to simply passing around a policy memo), but it's pretty ridiculous that the rationale behind submitting this bill has no facts whatsoever to back up the assertions being made. There's nothing to prove the foreign teacher crime rate is rising, and for the statement that "native English speakers are being rehired as English teacher in Korea a few years after their expulsion from the country," they have nothing to support this other than a vague "I read about it somewhere." And let's not forget how Rep. Choi announced that the Ministry of Justice had 'lost' 22,202 foreign English teachers because she'd used the wrong statistics (and of course never offered a retraction when this was pointed out to her).
Sadly, they don't have them. The aide mentioned some police reports of crimes they had received in regards to first statement, but just of crimes, not of an increase. For the second quote I was told they'd seen a newspaper story (no I'm not kidding). He didn't remember the title or where they saw it.
This statement is interesting:
“Had the ‘Child Education Law Revised Bill’ which I sponsored on June 9 last year been passed, the employment of problem native speaker teachers could have been prevented.”The problem is that these most recent cases have involved Korean Americans on F-4 visas (yes, others were arrested, possibly E-2 visa-holders, but they were footnotes in articles about the Korean Americans), but according to statements made by an aide of Rep. Choi's to Benjamin Wagner months ago, these bills will affect only E-2 visa holders - despite the fact that the inclusive term “native English teachers” (원어민교사) and not specifically "E-2 visa holders," is used in the bills. I wrote months ago that "those on other visas might wish the bill to be a little more specific in its language," and I wonder if "native English teachers" will be interpreted in a more broad fashion to include those on other visas after these most recent incidents. I'm not sure what's worse - re-interpreting the language in the bills to including F-4 visa-holders, or not including them and using crimes by F-4s to justify stricter laws against E-2 visa-holders. Both of those options are rather sneaky, if unsurprising.
Of course, we have to remember the reason this is being done:
“These bills should be passed at an extraordinary session of the National Assembly in April in order to provide a more secure learning environment for children and teens.”We have to protect the children. Now, to be fair, Rep. Choi has criticized Korean teachers as well, and at the same time the three bills were introduced regarding foreign English teachers, she also introduced 5 bills aimed at Korean teachers. For example, in the wake of the Na-yeong incident, while some other national assembly representatives were saying that out of foreigners in general, "native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters," Rep. Choi was pointing the finger at Korean teachers who had committed sex crimes but who had mostly not been punished for it (in Korean here):
A total of 124 sexual crimes involving elementary and secondary school teachers were reported to the education authorities between 2006 and 2009. Among them, 47 involved prostitution, 43 were sexual harassment and five were rape cases.Interesting that such figures are marshaled to provide a basis for criticizing Korean teachers in nothing more than a press release, but nothing specific is needed when submitting bills in the national assembly calling for expanded monitoring and testing for foreign English teachers.
However, only eight teachers (6 percent) were given prison sentences, while 31 were not indicted and 28 received suspended sentences.