[EDITORIALS]At Odds Over High School PolicyThe Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education disagree over the introduction of independent private high schools. You In-Jong, superintendent of Seoul's education office, strongly protested the ministry's plan for a test of such schools.
"If independent private high schools are introduced in Korea," he said, "it would induce junior high students to have private tutoring to get into them, as special purpose high schools did." He said he found out the time-line of the ministry's hastily conceived plan only after reading newspaper accounts. He said that even if the ministry publicly invited high schools to apply, he would not accept applications.
The ministry reportedly is studying ways of selecting independent private high schools without going through local education offices. It had planned to select six high schools from each province by accepting applications through 16 provincial and city education offices. It planned to select the 30 schools by Oct. 20 through an evaluation committee of teachers, parents of students and representatives of private schools.
We worry about the confrontation, because the two agencies are in disagreement for the first time since the administration of educational affairs was delegated to local education offices. The two agencies are responsible for broadening the scope and setting the long-term goals of education for Korea's young. But if they are engaged in nothing more than a power struggle, students and parents are the victims.
A superintendent of education can certainly express disagreement with current education policy. To do so, he should collect opinions from people who are directly involved with the issues. If the superintendent has protested against the ministry in order to avoid taking on headaches, that is unacceptable. The ministry also erred by announcing its schedule without listening to opinions of city and provincial education offices.
Diversification and competition in education is a current of the times, impossible to swim against. Considering that, the ministry and the Seoul education office should put their heads together to resolve the situation.