Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Educated Choices

Harold's 2nd Grade School Picture

The Gonski report, looking at Australia’s school education system, submitted its report this week. To everyone’s least surprise, it’s saying that state schools should get more money from the government, private schools less, and that something needs to be done about the current obscure school funding mechanism. No big surprises there; in my opinion the best analysis of the post Gonski situation comes from The Global Mail here, where it is basically argued that the more prominent private education is in Australia, the dumber Australia is becoming.
Personally, I am not holding my breath in anticipation for improvements to follow on the report. The Liberals already stated their staunch support to the private schooling system, and Gillard knows all too well what Latham didn’t know – that anyone hurting private schools’ funding is going to lose votes big time. It appears to me as if we are stuck with an education system on the decline, at least until the majority of the public – the 70% plus whose kids attend the state system – wakes up, realizes the importance of education to their kids and society et large, and decides to vote accordingly. As stated, I am not holding my breath.
What I did find interesting, though, is an argument used by Liberal Christopher Pyne, the opposition’s spokesperson for education (see here). His argument against reducing government support for private schools is that such a move would reduce choice. Now, this argument makes me retaliate immediately by asking: since when is the education system a supermarket where parents are expecting to have choice? Granted, while I think the concept of choice when it comes to basic education is ridiculous and divisive, choice is a core concept of the Liberal party. Fine. But what choice is Pyne talking about, exactly?
This is where the elephant in the room is hiding. It comes down to religion, stupid: most private schools are religious schools, and Pyne & Co want to ensure parents have relatively affordable options when it comes to the indoctrination of their kids with their favourite religion. If one wanted a fine example for how religion breaks down the foundation for a healthy society in what is supposed to be a secular state, look no further.

Image by Robert of Fairfax, Creative Commons license


Sarah said...

On the topic of choice (from a slightly different perspective)I have been fascinated to watch the people around me choosing schools now that we have to make the final decisions. While we have many different options everyone seems to gravitate back towards the style of schooling they experienced themselves. So it seems like we are doomed to repeat what we know.

It has has annoyed me no end that those of my friends who spent their teens and 20's not living in accordance with their religions, living in sin, getting married by civil celebrants suddenly turn around this year to get their kids baptised so they can send them to religious schools. The hypocrisy of it is astounding.

I'm not sure people want a choice they just want to stay in their safe bubble and have their style of education funded. They can't/don't imagine or spend time investigating other options. Unfortunately as you stated the powerful are the rich which mean those that really need the funding in the state schools have no voice and are disadvantaged right from the start. It is just so wrong.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I agree: it is wrong.
It is wrong for parents to be able to force any stupid belief they have on their children (there's Catholicism & Co, and then there's the Secret Brethren of this world).
It is wrong because it creates a divided society where the class gap grows larger instead of smaller; even the rich lose there.
And it is wrong at the very simplest of levels: private schools, being that they are private, should not earn tax payer money. If they do then they [should] become state schools, with everything that goes with that; but they don't.
Perhaps that is my opinion because I'm a product of state schooling. Then again, I have private health insurance and I'm all in favor of abolishing the tax payer funded rebate: private should mean private; no one's pointing a gun to my head and forcing me to take private health.

Uri said...

We’ve talked about this before – I can’t understand why private schools should have public funding. It just sounds so contradictory.

I can understand parents that are unhappy with the public school system (regardless of the country, or the actual quality of said education). I don’t see why I should pay for it.

On a different subject - it's getting next to impossible to type the word recognition words.

Sarah said...

Uri I have had the same issue lately too. Thought it was just me!

Moshe Reuveni said...

I suspect it's a Google wide change. I can disable work verification on my blogs quite easily, but the resulting spam is too annoying (so I won't do it at this stage).
My conspiracy theory is that Google is trying to make me hate it even more than I have recently grown to hate it.