[EDITORIALS]School act mired in politicsThe revision of the private schools act has caused trouble and discord at the National Assembly. The Uri Party and the Grand National Party have begun debating the issue, but they are far from reaching an agreement. Political circles have wasted plenty of time this year over the controversial private school act. Because of that, other imminent bills such as the law school act have not been passed through or even examined by the National Assembly. The education fields are also in chaos. Religious leaders and a union of teachers have urged lawmakers to rewrite the bill again. There are not many days left before the end of the year. Both the governing and opposition parties should finalize the bill and make plans for the new year.
Last year, the Uri Party forcibly revised the private school act, saying that would help make the business portion of private schools more transparent. But the revision included many clauses that might be unconstitutional, infringing on the autonomy of such schools. The revision forced private schools to bring in outside board members and eased requirements for persons who would be dispatched into the schools as board members by the government. Many criticized the government, saying it attempted to put private schools under its control and run them at its will. President Roh Moo-hyun also twice demanded that the Uri Party change the private school act. An Uri lawmaker admitted the private school bill had unconstitutional clauses. But the governing party said the revised private school act was one of the major reform bills and declined to rewrite it, leaving the National Assembly stalled in a stalemate all year.
Lately, the Uri Party seems to be changing. The Grand National Party is presenting its own revisions and suggesting that more people become eligible as outside board members in private schools. The Uri Party presented a revision with trivial changes, but it was turned down. Now the party is moving toward accepting the Grand National Party’s revisions on the condition that it also passes the law school bill, a deal that would offer a way out. But the Grand National Party keeps saying it wants to revise the private school act first. One gets the impression that both parties are using the private school act just for political purposes.
The private school act is not appropriate for political bargaining. Both parties should work on fixing its essential problems. The Constitutional Court should quickly give its ruling on the appeal filed by private schools who say the act was unconstitutional.