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Unlikely Allies Block Private School Reform

June 19,2001
The opposition Grand National Party withheld its final decision and the United Liberal Democrats opposed the ruling party-led amendment to a bill on private schools, sapping the bill's chances of passage during the June session.

Representative Kim Mahn-je of the opposition party said the bill had failed to balance the conflicting interests involved. "It portends a major crisis akin to the one witnessed over medical reform," he warned.

Kim Jong-pil, honorary chairman of the United Liberal Democrats, criticized the revision, saying it "totally ignores the private school foundations."

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party submitted the amendment to the Private School Foundation Promotion Act on June 8.

At the heart of the bill is the proposal to give the school principal, not the foundation's board of trustees, the right to appoint and dismiss teachers.

The Korea Teachers' and Educational Workers' Union welcomed the proposed bill, saying that the bill would allow for true educational reform and spell the end for corruption at private schools.

However, some civic groups and a private university teachers' council oppose the amendment on the grounds that it infringes upon the autonomy of school foundations.

Interestingly, the United Liberal Democrats broke ranks with its ruling coalition partner to oppose the amendment.

The revised bill specifies that a school foundation's board member who is dismissed for corruption can be reinstated after five years, and that parent-teacher associations be upgraded to decision making bodies.



by Noh Jae-hyun




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