[EDITORIALS]Stop fighting and teachThe 13,000 principals of the nation’s elementary, middle and high schools plan to hold a rally on May 11 to denounce the illegal activities of the Korea Teachers’ and Educational Workers’ Union. The union is also expected to take to the streets to declare “war against the antedated conservatives.” The conflict, prompted by a principal’s suicide, seems headed for a showdown, and students will be the losers.
First things first. In this case, we believe that the union is in the wrong. It should have listened to the criticism hurled its way after the principal’s death. But they did the opposite. Rather than apologize or rethink their tactics of blackmailing the principal, the union turned hard-line, refusing to bow to pressure. If the union truly stood for education, as it claims, it would not have chosen this confrontation. Why did they politicize the case instead of accepting criticism that they deserve? It is no wonder that the union is branded as a political interest group; its agenda demanding that teachers directly appoint principals, that the opening of the nation’s educational market be scrapped and refusing to allow teachers to be local government employees, are only tenuously linked to their professed goal of promoting our children’s education.
We have a word of advice for the principals as well. Their plan to hold a rally to denounce the union echoes the actions of the union. Where is the difference? As experienced elders in the educational sector, the principals should make an effort to embrace the teachers’ demands and stabilize the schools through persuasion. The sudden shift to confrontation after the prinicipal’s suicide, a marked change from their earlier tolerance of the union’s activities, is not seemly. The teachers ― and the principals are teachers too ― should focus first and foremost on providing the best education to students. It is time that both groups think about how they look in the eyes of the students.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resources should step in so that schools, forums of learning, do not degenerate into forums for ideological fighting.