KFTA challenges voting for education bosses

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KFTA challenges voting for education bosses

The Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations (KFTA) filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court for the first time yesterday declaring the direct election system for school superintendents unconstitutional.

The conservative teacher’s union held a press conference in front of the court in Jongno District, central Seoul, before filing the complaint, which was signed by 2,451 individuals including parents, students, teachers and former superintendent candidates. It was supported by another 33,000 people.

According to the KFTA, the elections of education superintendents was “direct” only in name and “in reality is a government election.”

“This petition to the Constitutional Court is to promulgate the independence of Korean education from politics,” said Ahn Yang-ok, president of the association, yesterday. “The direct election system for superintendents is turning away from and damaging the constitution, which stipulates the independence, professionalism and political impartiality of education and the autonomy of education.”

This is the first time such a complaint has been filed since the direct election system for superintendents was introduced in 2007.

The KFTA said the direct election system was in violation of Article 31 Clause 4 of the Constitution of Korea, which stipulates: “Independence, professionalism and political impartiality of education and the autonomy of institutions of higher learning should be guaranteed.”

It said education superintendents, who should be apolitical, were being elected in a manner that leads candidates to resort to political acts. It said the system violated the concepts of democracy, autonomy of education and the value of the constitution.

“If prosecutors, judges and auditors were selected by elections,” Ahn asked, “do you think political neutrality would be kept?”

The press conference was also attended by the heads of 17 major city and provincial branches of the KFTA.

In the past, superintendents were appointed. The direct election system was introduced in order to promote political neutrality. But the actual result has been a slew of school superintendents who have been accused of corruption, usually from efforts to raise money for their election campaigns.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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