Ruling party calls for education chiefs to be appointed

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Ruling party calls for education chiefs to be appointed


The ruling Saenuri Party said yesterday it will work to abolish the direct election of education superintendents, claiming the current system politicizes education at the expense of students and teachers.

Education chiefs for metropolitan cities and provinces are voted in every four years in local elections but the candidates are not affiliated with a political party.

“The United States, Japan, Britain, France and Finland all have an education chief appointment system,” said Rep. Joo Ho-young of the Saenuri during a party meeting at the National Assembly yesterday.

Joo attributed rampant corruption in the education system to the enormous amount of money that education superintendent hopefuls must raise from sponsors during their campaign period in order to stand a chance of winning.

“It has been shown that it cost one education chief candidate 3.85 billion won [$3.7 million] to run in the race in 2010. The reason behind the pervasive corruption in the education community is because those who wish to run in the election look for a source of campaign funds [during non-campaigns season].”

Joo was not alone among ruling party lawmakers in his call to end the education chief election. Saenuri floor leader Lee Wan-koo stated that he will explore legislative ways to replace the current election with an appointment system, according to the Munhwa Ilbo yesterday.

The Saenuri’s scathing criticism of the current system and its vow to end it came after most conservative candidates were defeated by their liberal opponents in the June 4 elections.

But the ruling Saenuri Party will likely face backlash from the major opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, which saw its liberal candidates take the helm of 13 out of 17 education offices in provinces and major cities.

The Saenuri could be criticized that it wants to bring an end to the existing election system only because the polls gave an unexpected sweep to liberal candidates in education positions.

The liberals’ outstanding performance in this election is attributed to failures from the conservatives to unite behind a single candidate, leading to a split vote.

The win is attracting a lot of attention because the liberals’ policies will likely conflict with those of the conservative Park Geun-hye administration.

Major policies championed by the liberal side include constructing schools that emphasize character building and creativity and abolishing or downsizing expensive self-governing high schools and foreign language high schools, which they consider elitist and too expensive.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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