Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Tutoring as a tradable 

Via the Emirates Economist, we learn that student tutoring, including the free tutoring required under No Child Left Behind to the children of low-income families that are in underperforming schools, is being outsourced. To the surprise of no one, teacher unions are displeased. Interested Participant notes:
The teachers unions express a variety of complaints about tutoring being performed by foreign companies. They include concerns that the tutors are not familiar with applicable standards, that the student doesn't know the tutor is on the other side of the world, that tutors don't have to be licensed, and that there is no way to monitor the tutors. Their arguments are fairly weak if desired results are achieved on proficiency tests which remains to be determined. Strictly from an economic standpoint, hiring American teachers as tutors is not as attractive as employing Indian tutors. A college-educated, full-time Indian tutor can be hired for a mere $230 per month.
The money involved is around $2 billion, so you can understand why the unions are unhappy. Emirates Economist's John Chilton argues that the complaints one could make about outsourced tutoring would be stronger for the "more respected" distance learning.
Here we give students permission to go to summer school elsewhere and get transfer credit. But we sure don't let give them transfer credit for course taught by distance learning -- regardless of the quality of the school. It's way too easy and affordable for some of our students to commit identity fraud.
In no small part, that's because the Indian-tutored students are tested by the receiving institution, whereas the distance-taught are not.