Teachers have nothing to hideGrand National Party lawmaker Cho Jeon-hyeok has taken the list of the names of teachers in the Korea Teachers and Education Workers’ Union down from his home page. He took this action four days after a court order prohibited the release of the list. Cho decided to take down the posting in the face of potential fines of 30 million won ($27,000) for each day the list is up.
He has already accomplished all he needs to by posting the list on his site in the first place. Cho also did the right thing by removing the list voluntarily. While the parents’ right to know is very important, respect for legal procedures is also an essential element in a country of laws.
Nevertheless, the impact of the list has not completely subsided. A dozen ruling party lawmakers are posting the list on their Web sites in protest, and the Korea Teachers and Education Workers’ Union has also said it will file a civil suit.
We have said again and again that it is not appropriate for ruling party lawmakers to band together and rebel against a court order to take down the list. If there is a problem with the ruling, they need to follow the appropriate legal procedures. When there is a conflict of authority among constitutional agencies, the case ought to be taken to the Constitutional Court for judgment.
But above all, it would be right for the teachers union to make its membership information public voluntarily. By doing so, they would be able to settle all the unnecessary chaos. If the members are not ashamed of joining the union, they should proudly identify themselves as members.
The union is not an underground organization or secret society. Their mission should be to make parents want to send their children to a school with more union members. This would be their way of returning to the group’s founding mission of “true education” and to win respect as “true teachers.”
On the occasion of Teachers’ Day, May 15, ruling and opposition lawmakers need to work on revising related laws instead of exploiting public opinion. The Educational Institute Information Release Law needs to be revised to allow release of union membership status and educational level to a certain degree.
Moreover, the National Education Information System, whose primary purpose is to reduce the workload of teachers and staff, needs to shift its focus to educational users and release information on academic achievement levels, facilities and conditions at each school. That would be better for our kids and the schools themselves.