[EDITORIALS]A school tragedyThe sensation that an elementary school principal’s suicide has created in the educational world has spread across society. Some groups of students’ parents and groups of school principals are demanding that the Korea Teachers and Workers Union should apologize and punish its officials responsible for the principal’s death. The parents of the students at the elementary school said that they would not let the members of the teachers union educate their children. But the union and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development are sitting idle. We cannot understand that.
In the principal’s calendar book, authorities found a telephone message from an official at the South Chungcheong province branch of the Korea Teachers and Workers Union: “Answer honestly what we ask. We will not forgive you if your words are found to be false.” The message clearly shows that the principal received serious pressure from the teachers union. The union said its members mourned the death of the principal and prayed for his soul, but added that his death “resulted from the wrong customs at schools and from the following conflict.” The statement gives the impression that the death of the principal resulted naturally from friction between the principal, who may have made a mistake, and the teachers union, which wanted him to correct his errors. But we cannot accept that view. Even if schools have many problems and the discord between principals and ordinary teachers are serious, such problems should not be solved in a way that has one side browbeating the other. The teachers union should openly admit its faults and should apologize to the surviving family of the principal and to the public. And the union should give its word that it will throw out its warlike attitude of seeking “how to tame principals and superintendents.”
We cannot understand why the Education Ministry is silent even though three days have passed since the death of the principal. The Education Ministry should design measures to settle such conflicts in schools. It will be the first step toward the reform of the educational world.