Sat, Jan 19, 2019 - Page 8 News List

KMT shows lack of respect for education

By Chen Chi-nung 陳啟濃

After the transition of power from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in Changhua County, new county Commissioner Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) attempted to overturn the results of the county’s elementary and junior-high school principal elections that were held during her predecessor’s term.

In doing so, she disregarded the principals’ terms and rights by asking them to remain at the same school, but serve as acting principals until July as regular teachers. At the end of the semester, their performance as acting principal would be evaluated by a committee composed of the school’s teachers, disrupting the order of the education system.

Members of school principal selection committees are appointed by the county government. That the local government did not respect the results, but asked the same committees to conduct new elections and choose different candidates, is self-contradictory. The committees overturning their own decisions is tantamount to blatantly devaluing the education system.

The director of the county’s Bureau of Education said the decision was aimed at aligning the county’s school principal election date with other parts of Taiwan, so that newly elected principals would all assume office on Aug. 1, the first day of the new school year.

Why did the county have to ignore the results, instead of following other cities and counties that established a sunset clause, approved the election results and then waited until the next school year to adopt the new date. Why the need to overturn the election results? The county government is clearly trying to exert its political influence on education by interfering with the election.

Compared with the protection and rights that permanent teachers have, elementary and junior-high school principals are the most disadvantaged in the education sector, often falling prey to power struggles or being used as pawns by politicians.

Teacher unions are highly influential, as they often team up with local representatives to intervene in education or take advantage of their connections with legislators to influence education-related policymaking. School principals, by contrast, have less freedom to take a stance or express their views, due to their status as civil servants. Many of the rights that they deserve are neglected.

The KMT spared no effort when it deployed elected representatives and media outlets to help Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) take up the post of National Taiwan University (NTU) president, disregarding all the procedural flaws and the lack of justice.

It has shown the same arrogance in Changhua County, where school principals elected through a legal and valid process were dropped simply because of the personal preference of their superiors, who used their political power to reject the results.

The DPP is a principled party that values justice, but it lacks persistence, and so it allowed Kuan to assume office, despite the dispute.

By comparison, the KMT is fickle and whimsical and lacks unchanging principles. The only thing it insists on is that it is always right and that its political will must be carried out.

Although the principal election results were clear and legal, the KMT tried to block the principals from taking up their positions.

Judging by the Ministry of Education’s concessions in connection with the NTU presidential election and the Changhua County Government’s forceful interference in the school principal elections, it is easy to see who really respects education and who is being rude and unreasonable.

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