My feelings on this article (thanks to Korea Beat for the translation) are mixed. My first reaction was, “GOOD”. I love higher salaries 🙂 However, after reading it I have other concerns.
These requirements are going to drive away qualified teachers who can go elsewhere, which leaves more unqualified folks who are willing to wait to get in. Though I am in favor of reform, let’s face it, most of these regulations won’t stop 99% of the undesirables. These new regulations are futile, because most pedophiles haven’t been caught, most recreational drug users can stop for a couple weeks to beat the test, and the interviewers will have no clue what to look for (I guarantee that they have had NO training for this). I think that the drug test and background checks are reasonable, but provide another way to interview it if has to be done. The goal should be a system that enables people to come a month after signing a contract. This is best for the workers and for the hagwons.
Another problem is that this might keep bad teachers at their jobs. With easier access to teachers, owners could release bad teachers and bring someone else in with little extra cost. Now, these same teachers are more likely to keep their jobs no matter what their behavior (we’ve all heard the horror stories, right?).
Though there are certainly problems, a shortage might be a silver lining. A “native” teacher shortage could fuel change initiatives. Better training for Korean English teachers is a great start. I’ve met middle school English teachers who couldn’t even communicate with me. My Korea was as good as their English, which is really, really bad.
Check out the article for more specifics.