[EDITORIALS]A fresh start for unionThe Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union has elected its new leadership, headed by chairwoman Chung Jin-hwa. She said yesterday that she had reflected on the current leadership’s militant line and would focus on the education reform movement for the people and students. Instead of making demands and raising questions, she said, the union would have dialogue with other groups and offer a persuasive vision for education reform.
Ms. Chung’s remarks give a strand of hope, as it sounds like the union is determined to change from an interest group opposing the Education Ministry’s every reform plan to a responsible education group. Currently most parents considered the union to be an anti-U.S. and pro-North Korean interest group, and a militant group whose job is to fight. Even Kim Jin-kyong, a founder of the union and former secretary of education and culture at the Blue House, publicly criticized the union.
The union kept losing ground and was massively defeated at this year’s election of members of education boards. Internally, the union members are also recognizing the crisis. The result of the union election can be attributed to such recognition.
Ms. Chung is more moderate than her predecessor, but was affiliated with the National Liberation, a student activist group emphasizing the country’s self-reliance, democracy and unification. Thus, some worry that the union will concentrate more on teaching certain ideologies. Ms. Chung’s opposition to the new teacher evaluation system is another problem. We should focus on the fact that another candidate for the leadership earned about 10 percent of the votes from union members with a pledge to approve the evaluation system. Isn’t it a sign that teachers in the union have started accepting the teacher evaluation plan?
Ms. Chung has to filter off group selfishness, political activism and ideological education from the union, sincerely discuss education reform plans with the government and public and lay down practical proposals. It is indecent for teachers to fight over a political line. The union also has to throw away its preference for a unilateral egalitarian education.
Education is the strongest competitiveness in this era of intelligence and information. That is why developed countries are vigorously working for education reform. We hope the union makes a fresh start as a leading player to improve the country’s education.