Cho Hi-yeon, the education superintendent for Seoul, speaks during a press conference held Monday at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. (Yonhap)
The government needs to end its quarrels with the left-leaning teachers’ union before they lead to an even bigger feud within society, Seoul education chief Cho Hi-yeon said Monday.
The controversial Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union has been protesting against the government for recently revoking its legal status. It accused the KTU of violating a labor law that prohibits dismissed teachers from joining trade unions.
“I cannot help but wonder if the treatment of just nine dismissed teachers is worth enduring years of conflicts within society,” Cho said, during a press conference to announce the overall plans for his term. “I do not agree 100 percent with the methods of the KTU’s struggles, but the government is exaggerating the meaning of the protests.”
He also said that the Education Ministry had clearly overreacted when it pressed legal charges against the teachers who called for President Park Geun-hye to step down.
The education superintendent accused Park of stirring up anti-leftist sentiment in time for parliamentary by-elections on July 30, in hopes that it will help her conservative allies prevail. He said Park’s alleged plan would not work because Koreans are too mature to fall for such scheme.
At Monday’s press conference, Cho vowed support for regular schools, including more leeway in designing curriculum. He and other superintendents will push for more autonomy from the government, while finding ways to reduce the number of autonomous high schools ― elite schools which liberal education chiefs have vowed to ultimately abolish.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)