[EDITORIALS]Punish striking teachersThe Korea Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union said about 7,000 union members would today take a day off from their annual vacation and stage a rally in front of Seoul City Hall to protest the new teacher evaluation system. It is legally and ethically unacceptable for teachers to abandon students on a weekday and hold a collective rally for an unjust cause. In a society of information technology, education is a country’s essence of competitiveness and excellent teachers are the foundation of that education. That is why countries all over the world have strengthened evaluations of teachers. But to appease teachers, we would start the evaluation from 2008. Moreover, the administration would evaluate teachers only every three years and the result would not be used for promotions or demotions. Yet the union says even that is not acceptable.
Taking an annual vacation is a teacher’s right but collectively taking a vacation to protest is not legitimate. The Seoul High Court ruled, “Taking a day off without the approval of the school principal to attend a rally is against the law on government employees.”
The union said that the protesters’ classes would be taught by other teachers. Does the union not care at all for students who paid their tuitions?
The Education Minister Kim Shin-il repeatedly warned, “Taking a collective day off is an illegal group action and the leaders and participants will be strictly punished.” At this time, the warning should not be the ministry’s final action. The ministry should firmly react to the protest according to laws and principles. The union has conducted such protests 11 times since it was legalized, but only 12 teachers have been punished. The union’s special classes to infuse certain ideologies including opposition to a U.S.-Korea free trade agreement can be seen in the same way. Why should our children learn anti-American and pro-North Korean ideologies?
The union has gradually been losing its ground. The number of union members has been decreasing and it fared poorly at this year’s election of members of education boards. Is it too much to say it was because the union’s initial “movement to accomplish true education” has disappeared and the union became filled with group selfishness? Recently some teachers were caught by police on charges of receiving rebates from a publishing company selling textbooks.
The union’s job is to purify the teachers’ society and to conduct education that is truly for students.