Educators going too farThe Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTU) yesterday made a second declaration to urge President Park Geun-hye to step down. The declaration carried genuine signatures from 12,244 members of the liberal union.
The union listed various reasons for why Park should resign, including the slow pace of a legislative probe into the Sewol ferry disaster and the stalled enactment of a special law aimed at preventing such calamities in the future. They contend that Park’s recent decisions all reflect her irresponsibility in the face of the Sewol tragedy. Those decisions include allowing Prime Minister Chung Hong-won to remain in office despite her earlier pledge to dismiss him for the administration’s lethargic response to the crisis; and her nomination of Kim Myung-soo, who is suspected of plagiarism, as the new education minister, and Lee Byung-ki - who is also under fire for assembling a slush fund for a presidential election two decades ago - as the head of the National Intelligence Service.
One can easily see the bigotry and hatred in the declaration, which puts the blame on President Park for whatever the government has done. No doubt teachers can express their own political views as members of our society. But we can hardly agree to their lopsided inclination to attribute all things bad to the president. In the declaration, the far-leftist group even argued that it is too dangerous to entrust the future of our students to President Park and that only when the president steps down will students and teachers be safe. Their alarming jump in logic - and the more than 10,000 teachers who have proudly jumped on the bandwagon - could be the real threat to the health of our society.
The declaration clearly violates the sacred principle of political neutrality and the prohibition on collective action that they must respect as civil servants in the field of education. Their misleading logic based on an overly progressive and radical ideology will most likely contaminate our schools, not to mention have serous effects on millions of innocent students who should be learning balanced thinking.
The Ministry of Education must deal with the union’s dangerous declaration from the perspective of it being a hazard to our students. The ministry must take stern measures this time just like it did before: The ministry earlier reported 284 teachers to the prosecution for calling for the resignation of the president through Internet posts and advertisements in daily newspapers.
If officials balk at censuring or punishing them, it will only make our schools a battleground for political mud-slinging.
The public should not show sympathy for their insane, politically motivated actions, even while they cling to their respected profession by taking their students hostage.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 4, Page 30