Conflict hurts the childrenEver since the arrival of a liberal education superintendent, there has been no end to conflicts over education policies. Students’ and parents’ minds are all a-tumble as regional education superintendents and governments wrestle with each other over all the things regarding education: from the new teacher evaluation system to national student assessment exams, to the banning of corporal punishment and to autonomous private high schools. This is the reason why the decision to mediate the fights and tussles through communication by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology comes as a fresh breath of air.
On Wednesday, the ministry held a conference at the education office in north Jeolla about the improvement of the teacher evaluation system with education office employees from north and south Jeolla and Gwangju, teachers and parents. The education office in north Jeolla had been fighting with the education ministry after liberal Kim Seung-hwan came into office as regional education superintendent. The north Jeolla education office had decided to abolish regulations that would have been the grounds for the new teacher evaluation system. The ministry’s objective was made clear; it provided the means for the main and regional governments to talk things over.
The teacher evaluation system is a policy that will improve the quality of Korean teachers. Because it is still in its early stages, there can be a tendency for there to be inadequate details about the policy. Hence, the ministry decided to gather opinions to improve the policy. During the conference, a variety of suggestions were made. Issues mostly discussed were the evaluations teachers would have to do on each other, the development of evaluation standards based on the region and school, the simplification of evaluation standards and modification of evaluation periods. The ministry has said it will collect opinions from all regions of the country and come up with an improved plan by the end of the year. Any alternatives should be considered.
This is not something that should end with the evaluation system policy. The ministry should work on developing ways to communicate with education superintendents about conflicting policies, such as on the national assessment test, on punishment methods for students and on autonomous schools. This would help minimize any confusion regarding education policies and would stabilize the education system. The natural, and important, values of education must be instilled students, who are the hope of our future. This would be lost if conflict between conservatives and liberals is repeated.