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2014年3月 1日 (土)

教育委員会改革 責任の明確化で機能強化図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 28, 2014
Education board reform must lead to clarification of responsibilities
教育委員会改革 責任の明確化で機能強化図れ(2月28日付・読売社説)

To ensure that education board reform will result in a rebuilt system that can adequately deal with the mounting problems that it faces, discussions must be further deepened.

Having drawn up a set of reform proposals on the board of education system, the Liberal Democratic Party has been in consultation with ruling coalition partner New Komeito.

Based on the outcome of discussions within the ruling camp, the government plans to submit a bill for revising the law on local education administration in the current Diet session.

The LDP draft focuses on making it easier for the head of a local government to exert his or her influence in the area of education administration, while allowing ultimate authority to be retained by the local entity’s board of education to ensure political neutrality in education.

Specifically, the LDP plan calls for integration of the post of education board chief, who acts as the board representative, and that of the superintendent of education, who serves as the education board’s secretariat chief. It also seeks to give the head of each local government the right to appoint and dismiss the person who will assume the proposed post to be created by merging the two roles.

The plan rightly aims to rectify the current situation in which the locus of responsibility is often blurred due to the simultaneous existence of separate posts for the education board chief and superintendent of education.

The current system utilizes a framework of making decisions through exchanges of views among members of a local education board comprising intellectuals and others from each local entity. With all the board members except the superintendent of education working part-time, the education board system has long been criticized as having become a mere facade. System reform is urgently needed.

The Central Council for Education, an advisory body to the education, culture, sports, science and technology minister, issued a report in December last year proposing that the ultimate authority in local education administration be shifted from education boards to local government heads.

However, there were fears that the council’s proposal, if effected as was, could lead to the danger of local government heads exerting their influence based on personal bias in a bid to assert greater control over educational matters, with no means of reining in their behavior.

Division of roles unclear

If education boards are allowed to retain final authority on education matters as envisaged in the LDP draft, there will be at least a modicum of hope of preventing the abuse of power by local government heads over education administration.

On the other hand, the LDP plan also calls for the creation of what it tentatively calls a “general education policy council.” The envisaged council would be presided over by each local local government head who holds the authority to enforce budgetary appropriations, with a view to having the council tasked with compiling important education administration measures.

The proposal to create the council seems to be designed to ensure local government heads’ chances of demonstrating leadership in the enforcement of education administration. What is of the highest importance, however, is to have the local education administration function properly by maintaining a balance of power between local government heads and education boards.

The LDP-envisioned general education policy council would be in charge of such tasks as the establishment and abolition of publicly operated schools and quotas of schoolteachers, while education boards would engage in such matters as personnel shuffles of schoolteachers and selection of textbooks to be used in the areas under their jurisdiction.

The relationship between the planned council and education boards under the LPD draft, however, appears to be more or less unintelligible. Should public entities implement the envisaged system without clarifying the roles of each, it could result in confusion that would affect day-to-day school education, possibly impeding the smooth implementation of education administration.

Also incorporated into the LDP plan is a proposal that local government heads be authorized to demand that education boards take appropriate steps in response to such emergency situations as the suicide of a student. The proposal came in light of the fact that education boards lacked crisis-management capabilities to take swift action, an issue that was brought to the fore in the case of the bullying-induced suicide of an Otsu middle school student in 2011.

The secretariats of education boards are frequently comprised of former schoolteachers. There is a strong body of opinion that they, due to a sense of camaraderie with problem-stricken schools, often fail to address the task of rigorously probing the causes of serious problems.

In effecting the envisaged system reform, it is very important to take up the attitude of doing away with this tendency of boards of education.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 28, 2014)
(2014年2月28日01時21分  読売新聞)


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