The U.S. state of New York links school records of students with teacher evaluations and Colorado fires teachers with bad evaluations. These are what U.S. President Barack Obama has achieved over the past year after adopting the initiative Race to the Top despite opposition from the National Education Association, which supported his 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. The initiative provides 4.3 billion dollars in funding to states that implement public education reform and improve underperforming schools through elaborate student and teacher evaluation systems.
In the U.K., the ruling Conservative Party allows parents and non-profit organizations unsatisfied with public school education to set up and run schools with government funds. Modeled after Swedens choice and competition policy in private schooling, the British program is especially beneficial to neglected students. Schools in Finland are well known for competition-free education, but this is far from true. The Scandinavian country promotes fierce competition among teachers by providing benefits to schools with good evaluation.
In Korea, middle and high school students across the country took nationwide scholastic assessment tests Tuesday. A host of liberal education superintendents encouraged them not to, however. The educational offices of North Jeolla and Gangwon provinces ordered the availability of alternative programs to students who refuse to take the test, but reversed their statements. Seoul superintendent of schools Kwak No-hyun sent an official document to city schools a day before the test Monday afternoon saying students refusing to take the test should not be considered absent without notice. He canceled this order after five and a half hours, however.
Liberal superintendents say a uniform test aggravates students test burden and drag teachers into a fierce test battle. They use a left-wing logic that was widespread in global education in the 1970s, and seem still caught in a socialist ideology that swayed intellectuals a century ago.
Certain unionized teachers have not hesitated to spread biased ideology to young students. A teacher in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, said the national anti-communist law exists only to deprive the peoples rights and justify suppression. Another teacher took his students on a field trip to a North Korean partisan memorial. Why are these teachers espousing an ideology that has clearly declined?
The consequences of distorted education are obvious when students grow up. National competitiveness is determined by the quantity and quality of information and technology. Educational competitiveness will directly affect national competitiveness 10 to 20 years from now. Obama said U.S. success in the 21st century depends on upgrading the quality of education to enable children to succeed in life and work.
Korea will fall behind in global education if its educational system lacks both evaluation and competition. Students can receive private education or go abroad to study if they have parents with the financial means. The biggest victims of a unionized superintendent are neglected students. Michelle Rhee, the Korean-American superintendent of schools in Washington, D.C., initiated school reform by firing 388 incompetent teachers and standing up to unionized teachers to improve schools. She wants the system completely overhauled so that all children, including those neglected, can receive a good public education and raise their scholastic performance. Her reform drive has contributed to boosting student performance at D.C. public schools.
Koreas liberal superintendents and unionized teachers are poised to broaden their activities to offering free school lunches and selecting principals through open competition. The free lunch proposal risks delaying more important investments in education. The people simply should not sit back and watch these people revolt against major educational measures and evoke confusion in schools. The government should adhere to its principles in educational philosophy and policy. The Seoul branch of the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers Union spoke of wages and working terms at a collective bargaining session, urging the abolition of the national scholastic assessment test and suspension of a future-oriented education process. These surely exceed the branchs legal authority. If the government submits to infeasible requests that violate legal boundaries, domestic education has no future.
Education superintendents and teachers should first think that their students could be their own children before stressing ideology. They absolutely should not engage in a political battle by taking young students as hostage.