The teacher evaluation system that began in March is under threat. When left-leaning educational superintendents elected in the June 2 local elections expressed negative views of the system, many teacher groups from both the left and right alike started joining forces to protest. Immediately after taking office, Seoul education superintendent Kwak No-hyun said, The teacher evaluation system of the Education, Science and Technology Ministry has many problems. Gyeonggi Province superintendent Kim Sang-gon also expressed his commitment to review the system, pushing for a reasonable teacher evaluation as his campaign pledge. The ministry established regulations for each municipal and provincial education office to implement the teacher evaluation system. Full-fledged implementation requires revision of laws on public education. Because of the National Assemblys desire to please teachers groups over the last 10 years, however, the system started in crippled form.
Educational superintendents whose election largely depended on the help of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union could try to abolish the teacher evaluation system altogether since they can abolish regulations of education offices. The system could be suspended in six cities and provinces where left-leaning superintendents have taken office. Many teachers groups that had not actively opposed the system have begun taking specific action. For example, the Seoul branch of the teachers union began a petition to abolish the system after the local elections June 2. Their promotional material contains a picture of the newly elected Seoul superintendent and an interview in which he said, The teacher evaluation system has many problems.
Ahn Yang-ok, the newly elected head of the conservative Korean Federation of Teachers Associations, the countrys largest teachers group, is also against the teacher evaluation system. The federation, which had adopted a resolution backing the system and expressed its commitment to enhancing teachers expertise in September last year, has changed its mind in under a year. With left-leaning education superintendents urging the reconsideration of the teacher evaluation system, teachers groups from the left and right are trying to stall implementation.
According to an Education Ministry survey conducted in January, 86.4 percent of parents support the teacher evaluation system. Because of this, teachers groups have tried to delay the implementation of the system with self-contradictory claims that though such a system is needed, they oppose the current system. Their attempt at stalling by blaming institutional problems has clear motives. Such a tactic has much to do with the National Assembly, which has yet to enact the teacher evaluation system.
If left-leaning education superintendents continue to support the opponents of the teacher evaluation system, raising the quality of schools will take a longer time. Politicians must promptly conclude the enactment of the teacher evaluation system instead of being swayed by groups with vested interests in education.