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June 17, 2003

Teachers, All Change!

The Tokyo metropolitan government is to allow its 58,000 public school teachers more flexibility in choosing when to transfer to a new school. Teachers at all levels will only have to stay at any given school for three years before becoming eligible for a transfer, though principals will be able to extend tenures to up to six years. Currently, rookie teachers have to stay at their first school for at least four years. The period increases to eight years for a second school and 10 for a third, 12 if it's a senior high school. In this year's reshuffle in April, 33.4% of elementary, 30.6% of junior high and 42.5% of senior high school teachers were reassigned after serving at least eight years. School principals seem to favor the change, saying it will reduce teacher complacency and the dictatorial tendencies of long-serving teachers. Many teachers, on the other hand, cite difficulties in dealing with a new principal as their main reason for opposing the plan.

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