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[Editorial] Parents Win Victory over Teachers’ Union after 7 Year Legal Battle

[Editorial] Parents Win Victory over Teachers’ Union after 7 Year Legal Battle

Posted October. 03, 2007 03:14,   


Korea’s Supreme Court ruled that a teacher work stoppage mandated by the teachers’ union was a violation of student rights yesterday. The court also ruled that the union pay compensation for the missed classes.

The ruling is a welcome move and signals the greater importance of education rights than teachers rights. The ruling regards education rights as inalienable. Parents from Shinjung Girls’ Commercial High School, who fought a long battle against the wealthy teachers’ union, deserve greater appreciation.

Union teachers at Shinjung refused to teach for 23 days in protest against school corruption in 2001. They also forced students to join a sympathy campaign in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education during class time. Parents demanded that students should have regular classes, but their demands were ignored. Parents finally filed a lawsuit and a 7-year-long legal battle followed.

One of the parents worked as a housekeeper to pay the cost of lawsuit. Many traveled all across the nation to collect signatures from students, who had graduated and moved to other cities, and their parents. They were overshadowed by the union they were fighting, which has enormous power. Parents unilaterally agreed that being a parent in Korea is tough enough.

Schools exist for students and parents, who pay taxes and school registration fees. Nevertheless, the Education Ministry and teachers in Korea are more powerful, which contrasts with the weakening of parents’ position.

The teachers’ union opposed the ruling, saying that the corrupt foundation of the private school is being disregarded. But in this case, the hard-earned rights of students and parents should not be violated. The ruling is a solemn warning to the union, which has repeatedly carried out protests against measures such as the teacher evaluation system and a performance-based pay system.