Parents Need Not Apply

Parents Need Not Apply
Sinobear Apr 17, 2016 19:35

What has China got against parents?

Been doing some job and soul-searching lately, and there’s something I’ve noticed.

As a parent of twins, most schools offering positions offer either no discount or only a 50% discount on tuition.

This gets me to thinking…shouldn’t parents be more responsible and less likely to pull a runner? Shouldn’t a parent at the very same school likely to be more dependable and reliable?

So why such a crappy deal when it comes to signing with schools?

Married couples with children obviously have to make more careful and deliberate choices. We want our children to go to a ‘good school’ and the incumbent teaching parent has to do a lot of soul-searching to ensure that the school he/she works for and the very same school is a ‘good fit’ for his her child.

So why 50%? (and some schools offer nothing or less than 50% or a 60% discount). It’s a claw-back, simple and straight-forward.

Now, I have an offer of about 300K/RMB per year plus benefits, minus taxes. The school is offering 50% of tuition for one child and 60% off for the second. The tuition is 78K RMB PER SEMESTER!

So, I pay 78K RMB/year for one child and 62.4K RMB for the other…or, 140400 RMB for both per year. Go back to the salary offer: 300K – 5%= 285000 – 140400 = 144600 or 12K RMB/month. Of course, there’s food, activities, utilities, rent, insurance, and daily expenses. Far from the 25.5K/month that the position offers.

Now, I’m not detracting from the single/childless teachers who garner such a salary, hell, I had that back in 1998 as a single guy working in Beijing.

My point being: why in the heck do schools think that this is a good thing? Clawing-back almost half of a salary just because one has children?

You could reasonably state, “Hey, Sinobear, the school could be making the full tuition from the two places that your children take up.”  That is true except that these schools always have a maximum class-load and not a definitive one.

If I was a teacher at a public school in the west, my children attend school for free. At a private school (K-12) my children attend for free. Even without the chance to attend a private school, at least they’d still go to a local school for free.

And this also got me to thinking about the discrepancy between salaries and benefits of yesteryear and today:

Back in ’98, a subject teacher could expect to earn 18K plus monthly. An English teacher, 14K. Everything was included (for a legitimate school hiring a foreigner from abroad). Kindergarten teachers were some of the most highly paid: usually starting at 20K/mo. Today, there are positions advertised in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai offering less!

The requirements have increased, not a bad thing, except that you are expected to bear the cost – criminal records check, degree validation , TEFL certificate…and so on and so forth.

The start-up costs have also increased – from one month deposit for an apartment to two, three or even a full year’s deposit.

Airfares used to be fully covered, you were reimbursed for whatever it cost you from going A-B. Now, there’s caps…I’ve seen numbers as low as 4K/RMB. When I was working for a money-trap of a company in Beijing, I’d fly First Class (from the Chinese city where I was located) and have the company reimburse me for that. Today, enjoy your three-day, 4-stop-over flights because you have to work within these confines.

Emergency accident insurance is supposed to be covered, by Chinese law, for employees, yet schools are offering only on-site coverage and contracting terms such as dismissal after only three days medical leave.

Accommodations are supposed to be at a “three-star hotel” standard, yet many FTs are living in squalid hovels, even shared accommodations, which contravenes Chinese labor law.

Salaries, which should reflect not only the skill-level (degree and experience) of the teacher but also the ‘hardship’ level of the placement (as of 2014 – the last time I checked, Guangzhou was still considered a hardship posting by the Fortune 500 Index). Look at the smaller city postings – “Come stay in beautiful BF Nowhere! 80000 years of history and culture! You’ll earn 89854654 times the average salary of the local sewer-cleaner!” And people not only fall for that, but also defend it!

And now, 18 years later and things have gone from bad to worse. Profits (yes, just like the west) have doubled, tripled and even allowed companies specializing in English testing (but not English learning) such as New Oriental to go public. FT salaries have remained stagnant and even declined (and, yes, you can blame supply and demand for this).

Where does all this bring us? Back to the original point: schools want dedicated professional teachers. Most of us who want a ‘real’ life in China require real salaries and real benefits that reflect or dedication. A Chinese local teacher gets either a free apartment or extremely reduced rates on the purchase price of one…we get? A Chinese local teacher gets all kinds of discounts, bonuses (including the ability to demand ‘Gray’ money from students) and subsidies whereas we get?

And when schools and institutions are looking to hire a dedicated, mature, reliable, professional teacher, we are expected to subsidize the very school we are profiting because we have the misfortune of being parents.




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That reads exactly how Thailand works. The only difference is there is no airfare reimbursement here and no housing subsidy. Perhaps China is not the best career move after all.

Nov 13, 2016 15:23 Report Abuse



Well, this is how it works in every ESL market in the world. No surprises here.

Jun 10, 2016 03:29 Report Abuse



its all about the supply and demand of English teachers in the market. At this moment, there is cut throat competition

May 13, 2016 00:47 Report Abuse



Btw due to new visa polices .u might see filter against professional and racism

May 16, 2016 06:50 Report Abuse



well said mike,98!

May 10, 2016 22:38 Report Abuse



You were getting 25k a month in '98? I find that hard to believe.

Apr 20, 2016 10:04 Report Abuse



25.5K/mo based on a CDN dollar exchange rate. Most positions were very well paid, with full benefits. Another example, during the time I first came to China and for a few years thereafter, even kindergartens were advertising at 20K/mo. Supply/demand started the downward trend until it is what it is today...stagnant amidst tightening regulations and heightened requirements. To answer Chhris' comment: 12K/mo is an acceptable for a single teacher of English (I'm a subject teacher with a Masters in Education but not a certified/licensed teacher)

Apr 20, 2016 12:29 Report Abuse



Thanks for your reply. I had just assumed that it had always been naff and was slowly getting worse. It's annoying to know that even when I first came (2008 the first time) that things were shite compared to a few years before. Still, I'm out of here in two months, they can ram it. (Oh, I'm a Scottish Unionist. We do exist.)

Apr 22, 2016 10:43 Report Abuse



Come on, 12k RMB a month is still awesome, and you don't even need to care about the tuition of the kids. Most foreign teachers here earn less than 12k. Are you a licensed teacher?

Apr 19, 2016 16:51 Report Abuse