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[Editorial] Election of School Superintendents

Posted February. 03, 2010 07:56,   


Candidate registration for the June 2 local elections began yesterday. To be held at the halfway point of the Lee Myung-bak administration, the elections could affect the direction of major policies. For the first time in the country’s history, every eligible voter will vote eight times simultaneously to select administrators and legislators for provincial, municipal and smaller autonomous units. School district superintendents and councilors will also be elected in 16 cities and provinces nationwide the same day.

Last month, the progressive Democratic Liberal Party, members of the main opposition Democratic Party and the New Progressive Party, teachers from the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers` Union, and figures from hundreds of civic groups got together in Seoul to launch a national network to advance public education. They pledged to win the elections for superintendents by fielding unified candidates with the same political inclinations. They won the election for a Gyeonggi Province superintendent in April last year by supporting unified candidate Kim Sang-kon under an anti-Lee campaign, and want to repeat this in these elections. What they want is to take control of public education and lay the groundwork for taking over the government by electing left-leaning school superintendents and councilors en masse nationwide.

The group will set up organizations in 16 cities and provinces as well as in 232 small administrative units and field eminent figures as candidates. Members want to establish a vast political network with the intent to undermine political neutrality in education.

The Democratic Liberal Party, the New Progressive Party and the teachers union are not qualified to lead election campaigns because of the requirement of political neutrality. Instead, they are helping a coalition of leftist organizations field unified candidates and indirectly support election campaigns.

This has made able and new figures with a sound philosophy on education reluctant to run in the local elections. No forces seem able to control or stem the overwhelming of conservative candidates. Senior figures in and out of education and organizations of teachers and parents are also showing a tepid response. If such indifference continues, the same mistake made in the superintendent election in Gyeonggi last year will be repeated. Public schools in the province have turned into a hotbed of leftist forces.

Only voters can prevent public schools from being taken over by those ridiculing a free democracy and market economy and calling the Republic of Korea an illegitimate country. In a nutshell, the election of school district superintendents and councilors will determine the fate of Korea’s children and the country.