Union out of boundsThe Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union has gone too far. The union went ahead with announcing its second statement detailing its concerns about the country, despite the government’s repeated requests to refrain from taking such action.
The union claims that around 28,000 teachers signed the second statement, many more than signed the first one. The recent statement was written in protest against the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s decision to punish all 17,000 teachers who participated in the first statement.
The union mocks law and order, and reveals the arrogant attitude that it will stop at nothing to confront the government. It is worrisome to think about what our children will learn from the teachers belonging to the union.
The key phrases in the statement are “protecting democracy,” “guaranteeing freedom of speech” and “ending the oppression of the teachers who signed the first statement.” These sound like noble goals, but they could give our students distorted ideas about reality.
The government’s application of the law was legitimate. Calling it “merciless oppression” that is “similar to martial law” and taking to the streets will do nothing to protect democracy.
Such behavior will only confuse students and have a negative influence on the way they think about democracy.
It is not right to categorize the statement as freedom of speech, which, as stipulated in the Constitution, does not include illegal political acts committed by public servants.
The union is a group of teachers that must take responsibility for educating our students. There is nothing educational about teachers neglecting their duties and participating in statements that might infringe on students’ right to learn. It is wrong for it to request that the ministry withdraw its decision to punish the teachers who were involved with the first statement. Such neglect of illegal activity could damage the Constitution.
The education authorities plan to severely punish teachers who participated in the second statement. The problem is, as conflict and confrontation between the government and the union deteriorates and punishments are repeated, schools will be left in a state of confusion and it is the students who will suffer. This vicious cycle must end before it is too late.
The union must think seriously about its own flaws before it blames another party. It must abandon its identity as a political group and be reborn as a group of teachers who are faithful to their primary responsibilities.
Only then can the union survive, and only then can its members educate.