Panel calls for school board rules shakeup

Kyodo

A government panel on education reform Monday proposed giving municipal heads the power to appoint local-level board of education administration chiefs, overhauling the current system under which the boards elect their own leaders.

The 15-member panel’s suggestion to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would give local-level government heads more say in education policies as they will be able to directly appoint or sack administrative chiefs of the boards. But if realized, the plan could stir controversy over the political neutrality of municipal heads in education.

Abe said the proposal underlining the responsibility of municipality heads who represent the will of voters in the area of education calls for “a radical shift in the basic structure of the local educational administration system.”

Education minister Hakubun Shimomura is set to ask an advisory panel on education possibly next week to begin study on details of the new local educational administration system. The education ministry plans to submit a bill to revise current legislation to next year’s ordinary Diet session.

As for the role of the five-member local boards of education, which are appointed by a municipal head and approved by a local assembly, the government panel said it should discuss basic education policies in the community and keep watch on the board administration chief.

The government panel led by Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata also suggested that people committed to school management in communities and those who have achievements in the fields of culture and sports should be preferentially appointed to the boards.

The current local-level board of education system requiring mutual consultation from members has drawn criticism for its failure to act swiftly in dealing with cases of school bullying.