[EDITORIALS]Listen to all sides on educationThe debate among mayors, governors, municipal representatives, education superintendents and education board members from 16 local governments over how to improve the education system is becoming heated. The key issue is whether to change the election system for education superintendents, which is known for rampant illegalities, and how to coordinate the overlapping roles of local education boards and assemblies. But instead of undertaking serious talks, the two sides are criticizing each other in newspaper ads and press conferences.
Superintendents are elected by an electoral college made up of members of local school operations committees, which in turn are composed of parents and teachers. As a result, elections are full of bribery and wrongdoing. Candidates pledge to give rights to appoint personnel in exchange for support; some superintendents have been arrested for illegal campaigning.
To prevent such abuses, the Presidential Committee on Governmental Innovation and Decentralization has proposed direct elections of superintendents. The committee finds this more rational, because vote buying is easy under the current system. And direct voting would lessen abuses of school and regional connections. Its drawback is the creation of an overheated atmosphere due to large-scale campaigning.
On the other hand, local governments argue that deputy heads of local governments should be made superintendents, either approved by local assemblies or elected as running mates of local heads. This would merge education administration with local government, which means the public’s expectations for education would be reflected faster; on the other hand, education could be swayed by the political purposes of local heads, damaging the independence and neutrality of education.
In Britain, heads of local governments take charge of education. In Japan, policy is decided by local assemblies, but implementation is handled by a separate body. In our country, policy is set by local assemblies and education boards, but implementation is handled by the superintendent. We must compare and contrast each system, and listen to the opinions of various sectors of society, to adopt the system that best fits our situation. We hope the interest groups will show wisdom by deciding to enhance our educational competitiveness.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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