[EDITORIALS]A union thumbs its nose

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[EDITORIALS]A union thumbs its nose

The Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union has decided to launch special classes nationwide on the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting and will produce and distribute related educational material.
The decision enlarges an earlier plan by the union to launch special classes only by the Busan chapter of the union. The decision comes as public criticism has been voiced that the special classes planned by the union are not appropriate for educational purposes, yet the union has decided to go ahead with its plan. Through these actions the people have been provided with an opportunity to clearly see whether this group really is an association of educators, or a political group that instigates conflict.
The decision to launch the special classes seems to be part of a political effort by the union’s leadership to counter the government’s recent decision to introduce a new teacher evaluation system. The evaluation system aims to judge the ability and quality of a teacher so that the quality of public education can be raised. As the positive public reaction in surveys shows, the evaluation system is something that needs to be introduced regardless of what the union thinks.
That a teacher’s union insists upon launching a class that does not meet with reality and is illogical just to achieve its goals only means that the union is willing to take students as hostages for its own good. It means giving up being teachers. One has to ask if this is the real education and democratic education that the union has been preaching as its main goal. For parents who have to leave the education of their children in the hands of these people, this is truly sad.
Most of the special classes conducted by the union, such as opposing the dispatch of South Korean soldiers to Iraq, carried a political flavor. This is directly violating the current basic law on education that forbids teaching students ideological positions.
The government is responsible for the union’s continued engagement in illegal collective action. Just because the union is in sync with the administration, to let the union get away with disregarding the law has caused this situation.
As the Education Ministry has vowed, those teachers engaging in teaching anti-APEC classes will have to be dealt with according to the law. That a union that only has 90,000 members out of a total of 480,000 teachers continues to sow confusion on the educational front cannot be tolerated any more.
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