[EDITORIALS]Decide private school lawProtestant and Roman Catholic leaders have urged further revision of the revised private schools law and even had their heads shaved in protest. Educators, including the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations, oppose the revised law, which the Uri Party pushed through late last year.
We also urged lawmakers to revise the new private schools law, but the Uri Party left problematic provisions, made minor changes and submitted the new bill to the National Assembly.
The newly revised version requires that a quarter of all school boards be filled with outside board members in a bid to make the operation of private schools more transparent. That provision infringes on private schools’ autonomy. An even more serious problem is to limit those who have rights to recommend outside board members. For elementary, middle and high school boards, that is only steering committees. For universities, only councils can recommend such members.
Secondly, requirements for temporary board members deployed by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development have been eased. Temporary board members can be sent to private schools when school forces cause trouble or when the government feels it is necessary to do so. Many claim that groups such as the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union will cause trouble while being protected by the government in order to gain power in private schools.
Thirdly, temporary board members have no limited tenure. It is unlikely such members will work hard to normalize private schools. In the past, when temporary board members were sent to schools, it was hard for the school founders to take back control even after schools had been normalized. Now it will be practically impossible for founders to take back their schools. As a result, private schools will become overly careful not to agitate the government. Private schools will become like part of the government.
Any corruption of private school boards should be strictly punished. The laws concerning such corruption should be intensified, if necessary. But not all private school boards are corrupt. Only a few private schools turned out to be corrupt after this year’s thorough government audits. It is wrong to assume all private schools have the potential for corruption and to try to stir up such schools. Such schools have developed our education since the Japanese occupation.
President Roh Moo-hyun twice advised the Uri Party to revise the private school laws but the party refused. The National Assembly has wasted plenty of time this year over this law. The Protestant faith even says it will close its schools, which will lead to even more serious problems. It is wrong to take extreme measures with students as hostages. The greatest responsibility lies with the Uri Party. The Grand National Party suggests allowing religious organizations to recommend outside board members and giving courts the right to deploy temporary board members, not the education ministry. The Uri Party must end the negotiations over the revising of the private schools law.