[EDITORIALS]Playing politics in schools

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[EDITORIALS]Playing politics in schools

Since the leadership of the ruling Uri Party ordered all 143 party members to teach at a vocational school for a day, party lawmakers have been busy tracking down vocational high schools around the nation.
Although the ostensible reason for the order is that solving problems with vocational schools is the key to resolving polarization issues in education, we suspect there is another, hidden agenda. Our intuition tells us that the school visits will be used for political purposes.
This is not to say that we should criticize politicians who make trips to schools, whether it be elementary schools or universities, and give lectures or speak to students.
Lawmakers, by nature, must listen to voices from as many sections of society as they can, and their presence gives students the chance to better understand politics. The problem lies in the timing and content of their lectures.
Kim Han-gill, the party’s floor leader, told students at a vocational school that an example of polarization is students in rich families who end up at good schools and have more opportunities to succeed in society thanks to expensive private tutoring, but those that are less wealthy do not get the same opportunity because they cannot afford a private education.
Mr. Kim also said it is simply wrong that vocational school students have fewer chances to become successful than students at top-rated schools in southern Seoul. Comments like these only lower the self-esteem of vocational students and fuel their resentment of more affluent students in Gangnam.
There is a reason the ruling party ordered all of its members to visit vocational schools and to give talks on topics such as polarization.
With the local elections just over two months away, the party wants to turn the issue of polarization into a political one. It is crass politicking on the Uri Party’s part to force society to take sides and to pick up votes from its supporters.
Our citizens are paying the price for regional conflicts that politicians have fostered, and now they want to generate clashes among social classes for their own political benefits by exploiting impressionable teenagers.
All attempts to use vocational school students as a medium for political propaganda should stop immediately. The schools should also determine whether politicians’ visits can be helpful to their students, and must be bold enough to reject offers that are not.
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