Teacher rights bill advances

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Teacher rights bill advances

For the first time in the country, the education committee under the Gwangju Metropolitan Council yesterday passed a comprehensive city ordinance to bolster and protect teachers’ authority in the classroom, sending new legislation to the full council for a vote.

The proposed ordinance, if approved by the full city council, would, among other things, allow teachers to run their classrooms without undue interference from administrators and parents.

The bill, coming on the heels of growing concerns of weakening teachers’ rights and reports of their abuse, would also require principals to consider teachers’ opinions when drafting or revising school policies.

“Currently, infringement of teachers’ rights occurs frequently in schools, which not only creates low morale among teachers but also damages the stability of education,” said Jeong Hee-gon, chairman of Gwangju Metropolitan Council’s education committee and who proposed the ordinance.

The superintendent of the Gwangju Office of Education, under the ordinance, would also be required to implement several new requirements, including preventive measures against infringement of teachers’ rights and providing psychological and medical treatment to teachers in cases of abuse.

Principals, meanwhile, would be required to immediately address any allegations of violations of teachers’ rights, under the ordinance, and to report the matter to the superintendent. In cases of physical or psychological abuse of teachers or students, principals would have to report them immediately to the police.

“[Without the ordinance], it is difficult to grasp the real conditions inside schools, as cases of violations of teachers’ rights don’t get reported to the education office,” Jeong said. “It is also difficult for the education office to take effective measures because a team that exclusively deals with such matters doesn’t exist.”

To bolster oversight, the ordinance requires the establishment of a support center for teachers’ rights in Gwangju’s education office that would be tasked with receiving reports of rights infringement and conducting fact-finding investigations.

If passed by the full city council, the ordinance will take effect immediately. The council is scheduled to meet on Dec. 22.

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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