[FORUM]The path of true education

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[FORUM]The path of true education

Behind the controversy over the tacit ranking of high schools by certain universities in the face of government guidelines prohibiting any such discrimination lurks the leftist teachers’ unions and sympathetic civic groups.
The role of the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union is especially prominent. The nationwide union is aiming to dismantle the proposed new college entrance exam system set for 2008 by turning this incident into an issue. As has been known, the new system would be based mostly on college applicants’ school records. The College Scholastic Ability Test grades will be grouped into nine categories, playing almost no role in distinguishing students.
The school records would consist of virtually all activities of the student, starting from classroom grades to extracurricular activities, volunteer experiences, reading skills and hobbies as well. The school records will be compiled by the teachers. The fate of a student entering a university would depend on how diligently the teacher had compiled these records.
The fate of the student, in other words, would depend on the arbitrary evaluation of the teachers. Of course, the use of such school records for college entrance purposes would only be possible when colleges accept these records as wholly reliable and a valuable source of evaluation.
The system of colleges accepting students based mostly on school records was started in 2002 and used such materials as classroom grades, self-introductory letters from the applicants and recommendations from the principal as evaluation tools. This led to some schools inflating their grades. As a counter reaction, some colleges minimized the role of school records in the application process and started to rank high schools according to how many previous graduates entered the college and what the average College Scholastic Ability Test grade was.
As time passed, the ranking system became an open secret among the high schools and parents. How could the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union and the parent groups not have known about this? They were merely waiting for a timely chance to make an issue out of it. What better time could they have chosen than now, when plans for a new college entrance system are being discussed? The timing was also great in that the current deputy prime minister and minister of education and the presidential chief of staff were a former professor and a dean of Yonsei University, which was found in an investigation by the Ministry of Education to have been implementing a ranking system of the high schools.
There could be a no better way to engage in a fight against the authorities than to pressure the deputy prime minister and the Blue House chief of staff, who were directly involved in the planning of the entrance system for this university up until last year. How difficult must be the position of the deputy prime minister, who is being asked to launch a special investigation of his alma mater?
It is the goal of the leftist education movement to deprive the universities of the right to select their students, to implement their own entrance systems and to fill the universities with students that they have educated and evaluated according to their own tastes. Ultimately, they want to extend the standardization system into the universities and take control over higher education as well.
For a long time the administration and the content and evaluation of the education system in the elementary, middle and high schools have been moving according to the influence of the teachers’ union. Witness how textbooks with a pro-North Korean and anti-American tendency have the highest rate of selection for use in the classrooms.
The same goes for the classroom materials on the incident of two middle school girls killed by a U.S. armored vehicle, and on the Iraq war, which teach a one-sided anti-Americanism and demand the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Korea, two ideas that are far removed from the sentiments of most Koreans and our national interest.
As a result, youths are answering in polls that the United States is a country they admire but also hate the most. The teachers’ union seems confident that if they keep on butting heads as they did in the case of the annulment of the New Education Information System last year, they could win the government’s concession in this case as well. If the teachers’ union has its way and students who have been drilled with ideology for education and lack scholastic skills fill the campuses of our colleges, the future of our country would be doomed.
Does the Teachers and Education Workers Union have the right to do so? The responsibility of the high school ranking system lies with the high schools and teachers who led or abetted the gross inflation of grades. The teachers’ union has more than 90,000 members in high schools around the country. If these members are true teachers, they should guide their students to reach their full potential and raise them as capable people who would lead the future of this country.
Failing to evaluate their student’s abilities properly and even artificially fabricating them is not education. That is merely breeding. Once again, this writer appeals to the teachers: Wake up from your delusions and enter the way of true education.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Doh Sung-jin
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