Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Two protests interrupt teacher law process

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Members of the National Federation of Education Unions hold placards at a rally outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Legislative Yuan yesterday postponed a review of draft amendments to the Teachers’ Act (教師法) aimed at eliminating unqualified teachers after more than 100 teachers rallied outside the legislative compound in Taipei to protest the proposed changes.

The draft amendments, submitted by the Executive Yuan on March 7, propose lowering the number of teachers who do not hold administrative positions or board seats to no more than 50 percent of the Teachers’ Review Committee, while increasing its number of non-teacher experts to help prevent partiality when considering cases of teacher misconduct.

Also included is a provision that would prevent a teacher from being rehired after contravening the law.

The proposed changes sparked heated debate among teachers and parents, who also protested outside the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

Under the proposed amendments, “if you get fined for accidentally hitting someone’s car while driving, you could get fired,” Taipei School Education Union president Lee Hui-lan (李惠蘭) said during a demonstration organized by a coalition of teachers’ groups on Jinan Road.

“That would make a terrible law,” Lee said.

Despite the grave punishments they entail, the amendments would not solve any problems, she said.

If the government is concerned about review committees being biased, it should create a system where experienced teachers from other schools can be recommended, instead of recruiting third-party people with no teaching experience, she said.

More reasons for firing teachers and increased outside members on the committee would only grant schools greater power over the committee and teachers, as principals would likely be selecting those members, National Federation of Teachers’ Unions president Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said.

“We are outraged by the draft amendments, because they amount to persecution of teachers,” Chang said.

“It is as if we were back in the authoritarian era, when administrative officials had absolute power over teachers,” he said.

National Federation of Teachers’ Unions director-general Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) described the proposed amendments as a “criminal code for teachers, because half of the proposals are about when a teacher should get fired.”

The Legislative Yuan did not properly discuss the proposed changes with teachers before scheduling a meeting to carry out an article-by-article review, Huang said, adding that it should hold a public hearing before the review.

About 30 people from a coalition of parents’ groups rallied on Zhongshan S Road, calling on legislators to further lower the threshold for firing teachers over misconduct from two-thirds to half of committee members’ votes.

“We respect teachers and hope they have self-discipline, but child abuse continues to happen at schools,” National Alliance of Parents Organization president Maggie Peng (彭淑燕) said.

A petition the group launched last week to call for an increased percentage of outside members on teachers’ review committees and more oversight over their operations has garnered 100,000 signatures from parents nationwide, Peng said.

Due to the demonstrations, the Education and Culture Committee yesterday passed a motion by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) to hold a meeting with teachers and parents tomorrow morning and postpone the article-by-article review of the amendments to the afternoon.

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