[Letter] Problematic electionsWe need to amend education elections not only in order to vote for the right superintendent, but also to take [control of] the direction in our education.
The direct election system increases influence and intervention by political parties. Reflecting on the election for the Seoul education superintendent [in July 2008, the incumbent] Kong Jeong-taek was voted back to the post owing to the popularity of the ruling party. This makes it very hard to see him executing policies which vary greatly from current political inclinations. We should separate politics from education, and education policies shouldn’t be made at politicians’ bidding.
Furthermore, the rate of citizens’ participation in the election was below expectations. People easily criticize policies or problems of education; however, they didn’t take part in the election when they acquired the right to participate in it. In fact, the result of the election - only 4.9 percent of eligible voters went to the polls - implies citizens tend to saddle others with the responsibility of translating their ideas into action. Also, the low rate of participation was because people had to go to work on election day, unlike other elections when they don’t have to go to work.
Criteria for candidates should be exacting. When Kong registered to run for Seoul education superintendent, he did not disclose receiving questionable money for his campaign. The government condoned his behavior. If the criteria had been clear, it wouldn’t have.
The election system for superintendents has a short history; nevertheless, we perceive the necessity for reform. The government should get citizens interested in education and make people go to the polls. Jennifer, Seoul, firstname.lastname@example.org