In the Jan. 3 article “Schools fret about assistant teachers ahead of proposed 2020 reforms,” the principal of an elementary school praises an assistant language teacher for eating lunch with the children, and seems to imply that those who decline the “offer” to eat together are not the type of ALTs the school wants.

I would like to explain to the principal why I think that he should be complaining to the board of education rather than about the “quality” of ALTs.

Most subcontracted ALTs, including those working for the dispatch company mentioned in the article, are on contracts that forbid them from “working” more than 29.5 hours per week at the school. This despite their being at the school for more than 6 hours per day. This means that most of the time between an ALT’s classes is not considered work and he/she is not paid for it.

The regular teachers at the school are getting paid to eat with the kids, but the ALTs are not. Is that fair?

When the ALTs sit around between classes doing nothing, the regular teachers see them as slacking off, but in reality, it is not work time. This is causing ill feeling for no good reason.

Why has it come to this?

It is because the dispatch companies, in cohorts with the local boards of education, have designed a 29.5-hour-per-week contract that lets them avoid enrolling ALTs in the usual health and pension plans, reducing the cost of an ALT by at least 13 percent.

The board of education gets ALTs on the cheap and saves money at the expense of the ALT’s health insurance.

Procuring ALTs through tender as a “service” and saving money through dodgy contracts, then criticizing ALTs for not working for free, is an issue that needs to be overcome before tackling the issue of the quality of ALTs.

chris flynn

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.