[EDITORIALS]Dirty elections at schoolElection campaigns for local education council seats began Sunday with the registration of candidates. The vote is scheduled for next Thursday. More than 400 candidates have registered to run for the 146 seats, 7 to 15 contestants in each city and province.
There are concerns about this election, especially with reports of candidates engaging in bribery. In the past, education council members were elected by the local council or by a board of representatives from elementary, middle and high school districts. This year will be the first time education council members are elected by the School Administration Committee, consisting of parents, teachers and local representatives. This means that while the procedures have become more democratic, the risk of candidates employing illegal measures to attract voters has grown. Even before Sunday, reports of potential candidates attempting to influence committee members through telephone calls, or even offering presents and holding rallies had reached election officials. Such behavior by the candidates is sure to compromise the integrity of the School Administration Committee.
The division between teachers and civil groups within the committee is also likely to add to the confusion. Organizations under the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations, the Korea Teachers' and Education Workers' Union and certain progressive parent groups have presented their own candidates or expressed support for certain candidates, which might violate election laws. We applaud the fact that these groups could participate in the making of education policy and exercise their influence. However, these groups should also consider the dangers of feuds in an education system.
The education council decides the local regulations concerning education and academics, including the budget and settlement of accounts. It also monitors and supervises the local education board and its superintendent. This is the root of the local education system. With doubts being expressed in some quarters about the present autonomous education system, how can the local education system justify its existence if second-rate council members are elected in over-heated, corrupt races?