Teachers’ union flawedThe Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union has condemned the new administration’s education policy and vowed to fight against it.
At a conference on Wednesday at Chonnam National University, the union said the new administration’s policy will make the education system worse. “The new policy will ruin the public education system, and the people will judge the government harshly,” the union said.
Some members said the new policy would energize the union. Since the new policy will polarize the education sector, more people might be drawn to the union.
But it is our view that the union has not read this new situation well; it seems the union simply complains.
The teachers’ union needs to reflect on itself first, instead of criticizing the new administration’s education policy. The union has played its part in creating the education crisis during the past 10 years under the Kim Dae-jung and the Roh Moo-hyun administrations.
The union was legalized in 1999 and since then the government’s education policy focused on egalitarianism. Education for talented students was pushed aside and schools offered standardized education to all children. Students and parents asked the government to open more independent private schools and special high schools, but their requests were ignored.
What’s more, an evaluation system for teachers aimed at boosting teachers’ qualifications and competitiveness hasn’t been established because members of the teachers’ union wield influence in the Blue House, the Presidential Committee on Education Innovation and the Education Ministry.
This means the union is not above criticism that it helped lower standards in the education system.
Next year is the 10th anniversary of legalization of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union, but the union is losing its footing. The number of members is now around 77,000 and last year alone 9,200 teachers quit the union ― one out of every 10 members. That proves that teachers are sick and tired of militant posturing, which has nothing to do with improving the education environment.
The union must change. It must stop fighting for ideological convictions or blind protest against the government’s education policy.
Otherwise, it cannot earn support from its own members or from ordinary citizens.