The great education debateOur educational system is wrapped up in conflict and confusion as liberal superintendents aggressively oppose the government’s major education policies. With superintendents elected to their posts by popular vote, we cannot help but worry about the possibility that confrontations between the two sides will reach an unprecedented level and undermine the strength of our schools.
Only when national and local education policies are brought in line can we hope to normalize and develop our educational system. However, we will not be able to accomplish this lofty goal with the philosophy of liberal superintendents increasingly at odds with the policy direction of the central government.
Currently, the biggest conflict revolves around the assessments of student academic achievement and teacher performance, as well as from the controversial attempt to enact an ordinance tied to students’ human rights. These issues have spurred new chaos among schools, students and parents.
The superintendents of North Jeolla and Gangwon provinces have battled the upcoming assessments of student academic achievements, which are scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. They want to leave the decision in the hands of students and parents there. Currently, the government is planning to penalize both teachers and principals who refuse the assessment. But the superintendents have even threatened to defy the government’s disciplinary measures against them.
If we leave the matter unsettled, we will jeopardize the future of our educational system. To remedy the situation, the government and superintendents should look to minimize the current confusion over education policies through dialogue and compromise. In particular, the government needs to demonstrate a flexible attitude that will allow it to make up for the shortcomings of some policies via consultations with superintendents.
Superintendents also must abandon their tendencies to solve our educational problems on their own. If they try to shake up the fundamentals of our public education system, it will be dangerous to the overall health of the system.
We believe that a large debate on education led by a consortium of experts - made up of professors, teachers and parents - in the education field can provide a good opportunity to produce a desirable direction for the betterment of our educational system. It will also give the general public a chance to decide what is ultimately good for the nation. Such a consensus-based solution would help pressure the government and superintendents to accept it, too. And in this case, the sooner the better.