A few liberal education chiefs will enforce order

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A few liberal education chiefs will enforce order

Some of the nation’s liberal superintendents said yesterday that they will send teachers working full-time at the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (KTU), the country’s largest liberal teachers’ union, back to their schools.

Their decision is in line with a government follow-up measure issued after the organization was stripped of its legal status on June 19.

The ruling by the Seoul Administrative Court upheld the order by the Ministry of Employment and Labor to put KTU outside of legal protection and allowed the government to take further action, including taking away the group’s collective bargaining rights and requiring teachers working full time at the union to return to their schools.

Last October, the government banned the union because it refused to expel nine union members who were dismissed from their schools.

When KTU had legal status, some teachers were dispatched to the union full time and did not have to teach. At the time of the ruling this month, it had 72 such members.

“Because the Ministry of Education has the authority to send them back to their schools, we have also decided to order them to return to school,” said Superintendent Jang Hwi-guk, who was reelected to head the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education. “KTU filed an appeal and an injunction against the ruling, so we are planning to set the exact date of return after reviewing related law.”

Superintendent Chang Man-chai, who was re-elected to lead the South Jeolla Office of Education, said he accepted the government’s order because it was a legal order from the ministry following the ruling.

However, “we haven’t determined when [we will send them back] because we need to notify temporary substitute teachers 30 days in advance.”

The two regions are well-known for their liberal tendencies, where seven teachers are currently dispatched to KTU branches in the regions.

However, not all the liberal superintendents who favor KTU have been so eager to follow through with the ministry’s demand.

Superintendents Min Byung-hee, from the Gangwon Office of Education, and Kim Seung-hwan, from the North Jeolla Office of Education, both said they would not order KTU’s full-time workers to return.

As of yesterday, 10 out of 17 education offices nationwide had notified teachers working at KTU to return to their schools.

The Busan Office of Education has reportedly notified two teachers working at the KTU branch there to return to their schools by July 3.

Lim Hye-gyeong, Busan’s outgoing superintendent is known to be conservative, while its incoming chief, Kim Seok-jun, is a liberal. Even though some of the newly elected liberal superintendents said they will send KTU’s full-time teachers back to their schools, the organization said it will not comply with the measure until after the Supreme Court ruling.

The Education Ministry will demand the superintendents penalize the teachers who do not return, though they don’t necessarily have to accept it. In 2009, liberal superintendents refused to punish the teachers who took part in a declaration criticizing the Lee Myung-bak administration in defiance of a ministry order. The education chiefs were later acquitted by the Supreme Court.

It remains to be seen how tough the ministry will be in implementing the follow-up measures following the Seoul Administrative Court’s ruling.

BY SHIN JIN, CHOI KYUNG-HO [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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