[EDITORIALS]A half-step by teachers

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[EDITORIALS]A half-step by teachers

The Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union announced that it would postpone a rally for which its members would go on vacation at the same time. Originally scheduled for today, the rally was put off until after Nov. 25. It is good that they decided to delay the group actions until after the College Scholastic Ability Test (Nov. 23), since people were worried that their activities would disrupt the classes of students preparing for the test.
The Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union most likely postponed their rally because they felt the pressure of public criticism. Even the union itself said that it decided to “humbly accept the anxieties of the people” because it felt it needed “an effort to get one step closer to the people.” In other words, it was the people who stopped the teachers from staging the rally. Nevertheless, the teachers’ group is still not backing off on its stance of opposing the test run of an evaluation system for teachers. Therefore, conflicts regarding the system itself are likely to continue.
The introduction of the teacher evaluation system is one that goes along with the times. Moreover, most parents that have children attending school agree with the system. Evaluation results show that the quality of classes has improved at the few schools that have already implemented such systems on their own. Not only students and parents, but also teachers are positively accepting the evaluation system.
On Wednesday night, the teachers’ group announced the results of a vote on whether its members would stage a rally taking vacations at the same time. The results were “ayes” from 71 percent of the 75 percent of the union teachers who cast ballots. The union said the numbers confirmed the will of the teachers in the union. But the leadership of the union should focus on the fact that a quarter of the union members did not participate in the vote and that almost 30 percent of the voters may have opposed the plan. Such one-sided hardline struggle cannot gain the support of union members, let alone the people.
The government is also to blame for the union’s continued hard-core activism. The Education Ministry resorted to empty menace, saying it would punish union members if they stage group action, but all it did after the union staged collective walk-out rally was “feather-light” sanctions. Rallies that take students hostage must end. The union must withdraw its strike plans instead of suspending them. Only then will it be able to take a true step closer to the people.
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