[EDITORIALS]Regulating private schoolsThe governing and the opposition parties have presented respective draft revisions on laws involving private schools. The governing Uri Party’s position is that the power of the founder or chairman of the board of directors should be reduced drastically so that rampant irregularities in private schools can be rooted out. But the Grand National Party claims that regulating private schools uniformly, disregarding differences in financial structure and education standards, is not the right approach.
The importance of private schools in our education system is key. In terms of number of schools, 46 percent of high schools, 89.9 percent of junior colleges and 78.9 percent of our universities are privately owned ones. This means that private schools play, in place of the government, a big role for the development of our society by educating talented young people. Despite the contributions to the nation, some private schools are under public scrutiny for becoming nests of corruption. Various unlawful and illegal practices take place, such as nepotism in the management, irregularities in operation, misappropriation and swindling of school funds and bribes for employment.
Private schools that are corrupt hurt students’ right to learn and parents’ efforts to educate their children. Among 1,500 private schools, there are few that are troubled by the high-handedness of the directors. Most of them are financially independent and perform responsibility. Therefore, the revision should be made in a way to guarantee the independence of sound and healthy private schools, while those with irregularities are held accountable.
The gist of the governing party’s draft would hand over the management rights to a school committee composed of professors, teachers, parents, staff and residents. In this case, it will result in the handing over of the management rights to a certain force.
It is possible that the school directors would lose their management rights, and students would face bias in their education. The draft law reflects the views of the national movement for reforms that is supported by 44 civic groups including the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers Union. Under the guise of punishing corrupt private schools, healthy and sound ones shouldn’t be persecuted. The governing party should revise the law in the direction of encouraging healthy private schools.