[EDITORIALS] Resolve the Sangmoon Conundrum
Seoul's Sangmoon High School is mired in internal disputes. The entrance ceremony was cancelled, followed by students' boycott of classes and sit-ins. As a solution, the Seoul Metropolitan Board of Education suggested a plan; it will reassign freshmen and allow upperclassmen to transfer to other schools. But when parents balked, the board of education suspended the plan in just a day. The positions between incoming classes and upperclassmen are different, while teachers and the foundation maintain clashing views. It is not clear whether the board of education's plan to suspend previous solutions to normalized lessons will settle the situation.
The solution to the Sangmoon High School case should have its focus on minimizing damage to the students. It will not do if the students, who have been assigned to this school regardless of their wishes, are put at a disadvantage. Parents must be frustrated as they watch their children being deprived of lessons simply because they have been assigned to this school. Not to mention the foundation and teachers, the board of education should find a solution as soon as possible.
In this respect, the board of education deserves criticism for a reckless administrative practice in announcing a plan, and then retract it overnight. Educational administration, such as assignment to a certain high school or transfer to another school, is bound to have a lifelong impact on students themselves. Given the contents of the measure, parents' uproar could have been sufficiently predicted. Going back on a self-made plan was tantamount to admitting that the plan was made without sufficient examinations and preparations. The board of education's measure was unprecedentedly hard-line and astonishing. It amounts to a threat with students as hostage.
The Sangmoon High School case is no longer other people's affair. Although there is a difference in degree, it shows common chronic problems on the part of private schools, which account for half of Korea's secondary education. Irregularities of school foundations are problematic, but a systematic mechanism is also urgently needed to block education reform from being exploited by a radical group of teachers calling for equality, turning schools into battlegrounds.