Anti-education actsThe Korean Teachers’ and Education Workers’ Union is about to catapult the country’s elementary, middle and high schools into chaos. The teachers’ union has made its intention clear: It will expand its fight against U.S. beef imports and Lee Myung-bak’s education policy to school grounds.
Union members from the nation’s 9,000 schools yesterday began hanging banners bearing slogans that read, “We oppose serving U.S. beef in school cafeterias because of the risk of mad cow disease” and “We demand a reversal of the Lee government’s education policies.” Unionists have also decided to write to parents arguing that U.S. beef is a health risk.
Isn’t this an attempt to spread anti-government slogans and agitate students and parents?
The union’s decision to try to influence what students and parents think about social and political matters is an anti-educational act. Political neutrality must be respected in schools.
However, some teachers are trying to feed students with biased political arguments. These actions are nothing more than an abdication of the basic responsibilities of a teacher.
We also wonder if some teachers have to say, “It will be hard to supervise the students’ meal service at school once U.S. beef is sold on the market,” as sales have already begun.
The union’s fight against the government’s education policy is also awkward. Its members can discuss the policy in their offices and then make public their position. Why do they have to shout their opposition against the education policy inside school grounds? Do they want to draw students into their protest?
Our position is clear. The union’s members must not forget that they are teachers before they are unionists. The teachers’ union should never be a political group. It must stop using schools as a venue for political propaganda. Schools and students must not be used as tools for someone else’s political fight. Union members must stop hanging banners without the approval of the school principals and they must cease mailing letters to parents.
Clearly, the union’s actions will have a negative impact on students. Even though the authority and respect for teachers in our society has waned over the years, students still look to them for their education.
The Korean Teachers’ and Education Workers’ Union must not make an irreversible mistake.