It's a racket, didn't you know?
- the Gaijin staff get screwed
- the Gaijin are kept 'soto'
- it costs $15K and up for less than you could get from that
- who want's to be a classist bastard anyway?
I have been back after JET in Tokyo as an 'international school' teacher for three school years now, and because I had not lined up work before I came, had not known I'd be here for the third year to secure employment for it ahead of time, had a conflict with a martinet curriculum coordinator at one school that led me to shorten my time there, and did daily substitute work and coverage of several months at different schools to make up the difference, I have a fair idea of the workings of four of them. Unimpressed.
Would I send my kids to 'international school' if I were on an ex-pat package rather than to the local schools? Fuck yes. Would I pay for it out of pocket, now that most 'international schools' say they'll cover staff's children in their contracts, but make sure not to hire teachers with any so they do not have to honour this? I am unsure. Not that I have any respect for the local JHS or SHS (local elementary is not the worst), but where would a teacher come up with forty-large for two kids? Fuck that: I'd do better to home school them and send the J-wife out to work. No, fuck that: go home. Summer 2014!!
With the exception of a few of the pre-war international schools (you won't be able to get your kid into those), the rest of them are profit-making enterprises, more than educational ones, and did you know they are owned and controlled by Japanese? Yeah, that's good for educational integrity as a Japanese owner who made his money in construction (the mob) is going to prioritize the children's learning over his mistress' new mauve Benz: of the $20K you're spending, not much over half of it goes to anything but padding his mattress, as it were.
It's not that the staff are terrible: the Japanese owners make ignorant/selfish decisions the foreign administration are forced to implement on their foreign staff, and all the students. Teaching staff in 'international schools' are better than what I know from the public system at home. Let's not get into a social-democratic versus libertarian argument. That's boring, and Randroids are fucking ignorant. It's simple: all of the Anglophone countries have a glut of young teachers who cannot find work, only the hereditary-teachers get hired at home and are the worst, the others without any initiative to go abroad leave the profession within a year of desultory substitute teaching, for those with the initiative to go abroad Tokyo is a desirable posting (many teachers have fled 'international schools' in 'the Gulf', China or worse) which you're not going to get without a good resume, recommendations and interview. The reality selects for better than the average.
You'd think Japan's future dooms 'international schools'. You might be wrong. A colleague recently attended a conference of Japanese private schools, which included 'international schools' and Japanese-language private schools, and the results of some research presented was interesting: Japanese private schools and universities are fucked, but 'international schools' are not; though the demographics doom all but the most prestigious Japanese private schools, the 'international schools' are going to survive because the percentage of Japanese kids in them increases faster than the decline in the youth population. I have already seen this in just three years, though '311' was a big part of it. To be blunt: smart Japanese parents know the Japanese system** is doomed, and those with the means are buying their kids a better future. Hell, even if your kid stays in Japan in adulthood, better they went to a university in English (or other European language) where they're made to learn at all, and work in Japan for a foreign company so they can have any kind of life.
The same colleague told me it is illegal for Japanese parents to send their kids to an 'international school', except that 'The Law' means little in Japan, and this law is unenforced except verbal harassment by the ward office, but without any penalties. Sounds believable. If Japan did start to enforce it the 'international schools' would just have to get together to challenge that.***
For the ignorant Japanese parent with means, the good news is that no matter how stupid or lazy your kid is there will be plenty of places at 'good schools' open for your kid, because there will be few kids fighting for them. On the other hand, everyone will know that, and there won't be many jobs...
*Single quotation marks because they ain't always that 'international': high proportions of local kids, especially since the quake.
**Education, business, society...
***Or buy off 'amakudari' and politicians, as it would be more effective.