November 29, 2013

Kaplan tutor union battle heats up

Originally published on October 17, 2013 in the Hartford Business Journal

The 90 Kaplan English language instructors who voted to unionize last year thought it would lead to higher pay and benefits. But 17 months later, the union and Kaplan have yet to agree on a contract, and nothing for them has changed. All their hopes are pinned on their next negotiations on Oct. 25.

Emily Lessem, 29, who has taught English to foreign students for nearly two years, was one of the instructors who joined the union in June 2012. Like the other instructors, she only works 30 hours a week and is considered part time. This means she doesn’t get benefits, a strategy that the union said Kaplan employs on purpose.

But Lessem still gets paid $17 an hour for her in-class teaching time. For the rest of the job, which involves grading and lesson planning, she is paid New York’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. She doesn’t get paid for sick days, vacation days or holidays. And there’s no healthcare insurance.

Her take-home pay for the year is about $23,000, not enough to pay the bills, she says. “I really enjoy teaching ESL but I’ve been very frustrated with the working conditions,” she said. “I’ve been really cheated out of a lot of money and benefits.”

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Business Practices,Commercial

November 27, 2013

AmeriCorps volunteers bring tutoring to schools

Originally published on 10/9/13 in the Montery County Herald

More than 7,000 students have received one-to-one tutoring since 2000. (COURTESY OF AMERICORPS)

For more than a decade, volunteers have come from near and far to help Monterey County students succeed and reach higher levels of achievement.

Each year since 2000, the Monterey County Office of Education’s AmeriCorps program, Monterey County United for Literacy, recruits, trains and supports 30 full-time members to help improve literacy in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Entering its 14th school year, United for Literacy challenges AmeriCorps members to make Monterey County communities safer, smarter and healthier.

This year, members, ranging in age from 18 to 55, will devote 1,700 hours to tutoring students and strengthening communities in Salinas and Greenfield. With between two and six members at each school site, students receive one-on-one or small group tutoring during and after school hours. This year, 515 students will participate in the literacy support program to help them advance reading ability by one full grade level and meet grade-level proficiency standards.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Government,K-8

November 24, 2013

Private tutors: required or redundant?

by Nancy Ji, The Varsity, The University of Toronto, originally published on  9/30/13

As a first-year student, Chelsey Konya struggled in Economics 105. Finding that she was not able to learn effectively in lecture, she stopped going to economics classes after the first few weeks. Around exam time, Konya remembered a pamphlet she received in the first week of class for a tutoring service called ECOMAN. Konya paid for the service, aced her exam, and passed the course.

Konya is one of many students who opt to use services offered by private tutoring companies such as ECOMAN, Toronto Life Sciences (TLS), and SOS Tutoring Inc. Among other services, these companies offer group tutoring sessions designed around many introductory math, science, and economics courses at U of T. While Konya had very positive things to say about her experience, perspectives on the effectiveness and value of these services vary widely among faculty and students.

Though outside tutoring companies are not affiliated with the university, they often rent space from U of T and run their sessions on university property. Laurie Stephens, Director of Media Relations for the university did not answer questions about the tutors saying: “We cannot comment on the effectiveness of services provided by external service providers.”

Concerns about “crash course” learning model

Some professors interviewed by The Varsity expressed concern about “crash course” sessions offered by private tutoring companies. “Some of these services try to teach students to memorize a lot of things without understanding,” said mat137 course coordinator and lecturer Alfonso Gracia-Saz. He added that a crash course focusing on memorization and pattern matching will not prepare a student for a well-designed exam, which would focus on conceptual understanding.

“Learning occurs best when it is drawn out over time, e.g., through a series of multiple learning sessions, not when it is crammed into a single session,” said PSY100 professor Ashley Waggoner-Denton. Shawn Tian, president of the Arts & Science Students’ Union (ASSU), stressed that it is every student’s responsibility to stay on top of their work. He argued that viewing tutoring sessions as a “failsafe” for not paying attention in class is ineffective. A crammed review session is unlikely to help a student who hasn’t stayed on track throughout the semester, he said.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Small Private Practices,Test Prep

November 20, 2013

Meet the ‘tutor kings and queens’

By Yojana Sharma, BBC, originally published 11/27/12

Forget the elbow patches, tutor Kelly Mok teaches English with style

They strike glamorous poses in posters in shopping malls and on the sides of buses. But they are not movie stars or supermodels: they are Hong Kong’s A-list “tutor kings” and “tutor queens”, offering pupils a chance to improve mediocre grades. In Hong Kong’s consumer culture, looks sell. Celebrity tutors in their sophisticated hair-dos and designer trappings are treated like idols by their young fans who flock to their classes. And they have earnings to match – some have become millionaires and appear regularly on television shows.

“If you want to be a top tutor, it definitely helps if you are young and attractive. Students look at your appearance,” said Kelly Mok, 26, a “tutor queen” at King’s Glory, one of Hong Kong’s largest tutorial establishments. Her designer clothes and accessories are not just for the billboards; it’s how she likes to dress outside classes. But she is also careful to add that she wouldn’t be in such high demand if she could not deliver top grades in her subject, English.

Richard Eng from Beacon College is often credited with being the first of Hong Kong’s “star tutors”. A former secondary school teacher, he says he got the idea after he featured in photographs advertising his sister, a performance artist. “In school all the teachers look the same, there’s no excitement,” he said. Richard Eng Richard Eng has brought a show business approach to the world of improving exam grades. His own image appears on special ring-binders and folders containing study tips, or pens which harbour a pull-out scroll with his picture and other gifts. Such items became so sought after that they propelled him to near-rock star status among young people.

The celebrity tutor phenomenon is a result of the huge growth in out-of-school tutoring in Asia.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Business Practices

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