Seoul to demote 6 elite high schools

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Seoul to demote 6 elite high schools

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education announced yesterday it will strip six autonomous high schools of their status as elite establishments, claiming that they failed an assessment it has implemented since July to ensure fairness in education.

As a result of the announcement, the schools are expected to become general high schools by March 2016.

For admissions that year, the six schools will have to accept students through a lottery system, without the ability to hold interviews or restrict entry due to grades.

Out of 49 autonomous high schools nationwide, 25 are in Seoul. These are considered elite institutions and have been criticized for fanning private education fever and negatively influencing public education.

Among the 25 autonomous high schools, 14 were up for re-evaluation as Seoul Superintendent of Education Cho Hee-yeon, who started at his post in July, raised questions about the results of assessments conducted in June, citing that they were insufficient. The assessments were expanded to feature a “general evaluation” category that also considered the autonomous schools’ sway on public education.

The Seoul authority announced the results of the reassessment on Sept. 4, stating that eight schools failed to reach 70 out of 100 points.

“We will announce whether the appointment cancelation will be determined in October after discussion with the Ministry of Education,” the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said at the time.

The next day, however, the ministry rejected the education office’s decision, citing that the assessment process was “neither clear nor fair.”

But the education office responded that they have “a legal basis to implement the appointment cancelation” because they turned in a discussion request to the Ministry of Education.

The six high schools - Kyunghee, Paichai, Sehwa, Wooshin, Choongang and Ewha Womans University High School - have expressed opposition to having their statuses as elite schools removed since Sept. 4.

But two, Shinil and Soongmoon, have accepted the reassessment results in return for a two-year suspension.

Ahead of the education authority’s announcement yesterday, the principal association of autonomous high schools in Seoul held a press conference in the morning in front of Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s headquarters to voice its opposition to the decision to turn the six autonomous high schools of their status.

“There is no concrete reasoning that the autonomous private high schools, which value personality in admission interviews, bring devastation to public education,” said Kim Yong-bok, head of the association and principal of Paichai High School, at the press conference. “The announcement will aggravate the confusion and anxiety of the students and their parents because the university entrance exam a month away.”

Kim also said the principal association filed a lawsuit on Thursday in response to change the positions of the elite schools.


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