[EDITORIALS]Union needs focus on studentsThe Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union elected a new leader. The newly elected union leader proclaimed that the union should be born again as one supported and trusted by the people by changing drastically wrong practices from the past. He added that the union will present an alternative even when it opposes the government policy. The new chairman shows a considerably conciliatory attitude in contrast to his predecessors, who indulged in political struggles. We have high hopes for him. The union has staged anti-American rallies and opposed the troop dispatch to Iraq - actions that have nothing to do with education. They have often taken part in rallies organized by the militant umbrella union, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. There were constant worries over such activities from parents as well as teachers.
What the union should do in the future is clear. It needs a progressive attitude, should take responsibility, and be determined to improve. The reality is that hundreds of students cheated on the College Scholastic Ability Test and dozens gang-raped a middle school girl. The union must step forward to improve education and untangle the riddle of educational problems by cooperating with the Education Ministry. The 10th graders who won second place in the world in the recently published “International Comparison of Students’ Scholastic Accomplishment” said, “School classes are a waste of time and do not help much in our preparation for life after graduation.” The union must solve negative student attitudes.
We worry on the other hand. The new leader pledged that he would lead the way in solving social reform tasks through close cooperation with progressive political parties, civic groups, unions and regional communities. It seems not much different from the line the present leadership pursued. Even if the union concentrates on education only, there are many things to do. Reviving devastated education and concentrating on teachers’ welfare will require more attention. Political issues should be left to politicians; there is no room for the union to intervene. The demands for a headmaster election system, the enactment of a teachers’ association and the revision of the private school law, that give the impression of promoting the group egoism, of teachers should be withdrawn. The union should work to revive the competitiveness of education.