At the area they lives in there is only one high school that's considered good. It happens to be a Catholic school. In order to ensure the child will be able to get into that school, the parents need to have to child enrolled into a feeder primary school; naturally, this feeder school is also a Catholic school. In order to be able to register the child to that feeder school, the parents are required to have their child baptised. In order to achieve baptisation, the parents need to attend meetings with a Catholic priest, get their child presented before the congregation, and attend mass. Which is quite a pain, but even more of a pain given they are agnostics who generally try to steer away from religion.
I know what you're thinking: you've been reading this blog for a while, you know what this blog's attitude towards religion is, and you're pretty sure I'm telling you the above story in order to express my utter disgust with a parent about to sacrifice their child on a Catholic church's altar.
Thing is, I'm not. It would be very hard for me to criticise a parent who, lacking in choice, goes to great lengths in order to provide their child with the best education on offer. Sure, I think I can say with certainty I am never going to send my child to a Catholic school, but I am also not in a position to criticise my friend here.
The real problem is not my friend sending their child into the throes of the Catholic church. The real problem is with Australia's education system. And the real problem is with Australian culture, a culture that sends parents very strong signals telling them that sending their child into a state run high school is the equivalent of rape while sending them to a private school is far more an indicator of social status than wearing the dearest Rolex and driving a Ferrari.
I will admit feeling the stress myself.
Almost everyone around me is planning on sending their children to private high schools. Due to the waiting lists involved with that, the majority has already put their children in some private school's waiting list since they were of the age 0. As a direct result of doing so, these parents have pretty much signed and sealed their kids' path through school, from Prep to VCE.
In contrast, I stand out as a parent who has no idea what high school would even be remotely suitable for my child, not to mention sorting enrolment out. The conclusion is therefore obvious: I'm a bad parent who is letting his children down by failing to secure the best education for them.
Image by www.audio-luci-store.it, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) licence