[EDITORIALS]Review the private school bill

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[EDITORIALS]Review the private school bill

A large-scale rally was held yesterday at the Seoul Station plaza by groups of private schools that oppose the proposed reform of the private school law. Private school administrators were joined by principals of national and public schools as well, turning the reform of the private school law into an issue that concerns the entire education system. If private schools fail, public education will be threatened as well.
Private schools have announced that they would appeal to the Constitutional Court if the proposed bill passes the National Assembly and would rather close down than accept the bill. On the other hand, the Uri Party is determined to have the bill passed within the year, putting the situation in a stalemate.
The Korean Private Schools’ Association in particular said that 1,693 of its members, more than 87 percent of private schools around the country, have already voted to close down. Should it really come to this, there would be a serious education crisis. Yet the Ministry of Education is too wary of the governing party and the teachers’ union to play a mediating role and is only threatening to dole out punishment if the schools close down without prior permission.
The possibility that the bill is unconstitutional should not be ignored. The private schools claim that the bill sets excessive restrictions on their freedom to exercise their property rights. Not only does the bill violate the schools’ autonomy but it forces the participation of workers in management, something the schools claim violates the Constitution’s principle of proportionality.
The bill calls for the implementation of an “open” board of directors where one-third of its members are recommended by parents and non-managerial school personnel. The Uri Party insists that considering the importance of fairness in education, the bill is perfectly within the boundaries of its legislative powers. But the governing party should not forget that the transfer of the capital city that it had been so confident of was ruled unconstitutional.
The Uri Party should not unilaterally push this bill but listen to the opinion of the private schools as well. The schools should not be made into political battlegrounds where teachers and parents fight for power. The controversial provisions should be taken out or reconsidered before being submitted for the National Assembly’s deliberation.

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