Thu, Apr 18, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Parent, teacher organizations spar over amendments

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

National Federation of Teachers’ Unions director-general Huang Yao-nan shows his wrists bound with rope at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday regarding draft amendments to the Teachers’ Act.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Parents’ associations yesterday urged the Legislative Yuan to lower the threshold for firing teachers with misconduct to better prevent child abuse, while teachers’ unions expressed concern that it would undermine their right to work.

More than 30 parents, teachers and elementary-school principals debated draft amendments to the Teachers’ Act (教師法) at a meeting at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

The meeting was arranged by the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee on Monday after it agreed to postpone an article-by-article review of the amendments.

Under the proposed changes, teachers found to have committed sexual assault or serious sexual harassment would be fired and permanently banned from being rehired as a teacher.

In cases where the sexual harassment was considered minor, the Teachers’ Review Committee — schools’ internal committee for reviewing misconduct by teachers — could fire and ban the teacher from being rehired for one to four years if half of the committee votes in favor in a meeting attended by at least half of the members.

Teachers found to have physically or emotionally abused children in other ways could be fired and banned from being rehired for one to four years or permanently if two-thirds of the Teachers’ Review Committee votes in favor in a meeting attended by two-thirds of the members.

In addition, the amendments would increase the number of committee members from outside the school to prevent partiality.

The provisions that permanently ban teachers from being rehired is unconstitutional, Taiwan Higher Education Union secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮) said.

Such a ban would infringe upon teachers’ work rights and does not take into account the possibility that the teacher’s behaviors could be corrected, he said, adding: “It is the wrong approach to eliminate unqualified teachers.”

Whether teachers are banned from being rehired for six months or four years, the result would be the same for them, “because no schools would ever hire that teacher,” National Federation of Teachers’ Unions director-general Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) said.

National Parent Education Volunteer Association director-general Wu Fu-pin (吳福濱) argued that the act currently offers too much protection for teachers at the expense of children.

The current threshold for firing teachers, a two-thirds vote by the review committee, has made it extremely difficult to eliminate unqualified teachers, he said.

In 2017, only 13 teachers, or 0.0006 percent, were fired, as 99 percent of teachers received performance ratings of “A,” Wu said.

This has led to many children being hurt by unqualified teachers, he said.

“Even if the review committee included members from outside the school, teachers would still make up the majority of the committee,” meaning it should still be trusted with making professional evaluations, only with more transparency, Taiwan Parents Education Association president Hsieh Kuo-ching (謝國清) said.

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