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Let’s leave school starting time to parents and schools

Let’s leave school starting time to parents and schools

Posted November. 04, 2014 04:23,   


Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, said he would mandate primary and secondary school students to go to school at 9 a.m. starting next year. The purpose is to increase efficiency of learning by offering more time for enough sleep and rest necessary for young students. It was a joint pledge made by liberal-minded superintendents who were elected in the June 4 local elections. Despite the opposition, Lee Jae-jeong, superintendent of Gyeonggi Province, forced schools start at 9 a.m. from the fall semester and it is perceived as a qualified success. Students and parents who can now sleep more and have enough time for breakfast are positive about the change. However, high schools, which are concerned about college entrance, are still voicing concerns. In addition, dual-income parents are also worried about it.

Gyeonggi Province and Seoul are different. Unlike students in Gyeonggi Province, which has many urban-rural complexes, students in Seoul have shorter commuting distance and have more dual-income parents. If students go to school at 9 a.m., it could increase traffic jam due to the surge in vehicles commuting to work and schools. When the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education asked opinions from school commissioners, many of them said negatively.

Above all, the problem is that the idea is implemented jointly by left-wing superintendents as part of a movement to change society. The Article 49 of the Enforcement Decree of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act mandates school principals to decide when school starts and ends. Gyeonggi Province Superintendent Lee caused a stir as he pushed for the idea just with an opinion poll, ignoring the discretion of school principals. Seoul Superintendent Cho said, “In consultation with the Seoul City Council, we plan to make an ordinance that bans private cram schools from offering morning classes.” Some students want to sleep less and study more in the morning while others may want to sleep more and study harder during classes. This should be up to students, parents, and schools, rather than superintendents.

A study finds that students in the U.S. have better academic scores and school violence has decreased after students go to school later in the morning. It will not be late if Seoul sees the result of the test in Gyeonggi Province and implement it after enough discussions. Teachers are now confused because Superintendent Cho cancelled the designation of six autonomous private high schools despite the opposition from the Education Ministry. Gyeonggi Superintendent Lee accepted the Education Ministry’s opinion and reversed its decision to cancel the designation of Dongsan High School in Ansan, as an autonomous private school. If Cho makes an example of Gyeonggi Province, he should learn from the province`s autonomous private school policy, not just from delaying school starting time to 9 a.m.