Teacher evaluation in crisis

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Teacher evaluation in crisis

The government’s teacher evaluation system may be derailed before it takes root.

A host of liberal education superintendents who were elected in last month’s elections are gearing up to scrap the system.

On his first day in office last Thursday, Kim Seung-hwan, a superintendent in North Jeolla, proposed to submit a bill to the local assembly that would eradicate the regulation on teacher evaluations in an attempt to kill the nascent system.

Most schools have already completed their first round of evaluations. But the results may be tossed even before they are released.

Seoul and Gyeonggi superintendents said they will keep the system alive this year, but will eventually move to kill it.

Schools could be thrown into confusion as a result.

The evaluation system was finally launched after 10 years of debate and a five-year trial period at a number of schools. It has since become an easy target for criticism because it is not legally binding.

The National Assembly failed to legalize the system for fear of fierce opposition from teachers’ groups, including the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union.

The government, having decided that it has dillydallied too long, enforced the system this year by stipulating the rule in each municipality and provincial office of education.

The problem is that the creation of education rules and their abolishment falls under the jurisdiction of regional superintendents. If they wish, superintendents can scrap or change the local regulations dealing with the teacher evaluation system.

As a result of this lack of authority, middle and high school students led by teen student rights group Asunaro have launched a petition against the system.

The purpose of conducting teacher evaluations is to increase the quality of public school education by improving the efficiency and competence of the teaching staff.

Of course, we cannot expect tangible results in the first year. But the authorities can remedy the flaws in the system as it takes root.

Now, the fate of the teacher evaluation system lies in the hands of the legislators.

The National Assembly should move to legalize the system to enhance sustainability and consistency in the education field.

Last year, the ruling and opposition parties came up with an alternative law through an education subcommittee and have made much headway through a public hearing process.

If they have the will, they can finalize the bill and legalize it by the end of the year.
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