Sat, Feb 11, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Blue-collar parents form group to push education reforms

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Working-class parents belonging to unions and labor rights groups gathered yesterday to announce the establishment of the National Alliance of Labor Parents, seeking to represent the voices of lower-income families on matters such as education.

The director and founder of the alliance, Jen Mu-shan (任睦杉), said that Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) in schools are manipulated by wealthy families and care mainly about campus construction projects or personnel matters.

Jen said that whereas wealthier parents often donate tens of thousands of dollars at a time, working-class parents find it difficult to contribute as little as NT$1,000 (US$31).

Ninety percent of parents are actually working-class, Jen said, yet most educational policies do not reflect their needs.

PTAs also never discussed issues such as the high cost of tuition since it was not a problem for their wealthier members, Jen said.

However, for working-class parents, tuition has become increasingly difficult to afford, he added.

The need for children to attend cram schools and purchase several versions of text book versions brought about by educational reforms also troubled less wealthy families, Jen said.

He also said that the alliance would pay special attention to teacher rights groups and teachers' unions.

Labor rights should be taught in school, he said. Through teachers who belong to unions, students can learn about their own rights, which would help them in their future jobs, he added.

"We [working-class parents] care about our children's education. But without money and resources, it is hard to make our voices heard," Jen said. "We are establishing this alliance to speak out on issues that are important to working-class families but have been neglected in the past."

There will be a ceremony today to mark the official establishment of the alliance.

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