Cut the campaigning

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Cut the campaigning

The campaigning for the election of the superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education reveals more problems as time passes by. Candidates are criticizing each other excessively and explicitly. The intervention of teachers’ organizations in the election has passed the limit.

Teachers’ organizations are not allowed to campaign or endorse a candidate. However, the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union mobilized parents for a gathering to support a certain candidate. The Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations is discussing whether it should endorse a candidate.

Two major umbrella labor unions are joining this trend. The Seoul office of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions announced its support for conservative-minded Kong Jung-tack, and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions endorsed liberal-minded Jou Kyong-bok. The ruling and opposition parties are also intervening in the election.

The election for education superintendent is turning into a battle of political parties and organizations. Education could lose its politically neutral stance.

Now, voters must find a balance by voting. The election is to employ a person who will lead the development of education with his own philosophy. Thus, the election must not be influenced by politicians, teachers or labor organizations. Voters must examine only the candidates’ pledges when making their decision.

Education policy could be very different depending on the superintendent-elect’s outlook. The whole education system could change depending on which candidate wins.

Conservative-minded candidates emphasize autonomy and competition. They plan to let students choose high schools and evaluate student performance. They also plan to evaluate teachers, to have different classes of the same subject for different levels of students, and to intensify gifted education.

Liberal-minded candidates emphasize egalitarianism-oriented education. They will not allow students to choose which schools they attend and would like to abolish the evaluation of student performance. They will ban the establishment of independent private high schools and international middle schools, saying they encourage excessive competition.

Now we must choose who should lead our children’s future. We should decide based on which policy will enhance competitiveness in education to secure our country’s future. A wrong decision will send the education system into a regression.
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