FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS - D.O.G.S.
PRESS RELEASE 237 #.
1 FEBRUARY 2008
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLITICIAN WHO BELIEVES
IN PUBLIC EDUCATION AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
in an Adjournment Speech delivered 22 June 2006 in the House of Representatives Jennie George declared her belief in Public Education and Public Schools . DOGS quote from Hansard:
In my first speech as an elected member of parliament I emphasised the importance of the public education system throughout our nation's history. It has been an important component in the struggle for a fairer society and for the sustenance of Australia's democratic system. It was through public schooling that as a nation we sought to provide access for all young people beyond elementary schooling, to make compulsory education free and to provide a curriculum entitlement for all students. Historically, the public education system has played an important role in building the social capital that builds our communities in society. Sir Henry Parkes envisaged public schools as making:
No distinction of faith, asking no question where a child was born, what may be his condition or life, or what the position his parents, but inviting all to sit side by side.
Over the decades the priniciple that public schools were places where young people from a range of varied backgrounds and experiences could mix and learn to appreciate and respect difference reinforced the idea that public education was in fact a public good. Public schools continued to be microcosms of the communities in which they exist. They provide an important ingredient in learning to live harmoniously in a diverse society. When Prime Minister Howard criticised public schools for being values neutral, he could not have been further from the truth. Rather, the logic of their existence means that they live out such values as fairness, respect and tolerance and, within this framework, encourage students to explore what such values mean in a variety of contexts.
Regrettably, however, the concept of public education as a public good has increasingly come under challenge. As the funding of non-government education by the federal government has increased, so too has the government's rhetoric emphasising choice and the private benefits of education. The figures tell the story quite clearly. In 1976, 641/2 per cent of Commonwealth ex0penditure on schools went to the government school system, 35.5 per cent to non-government schools. Fast forward three decades later and almost the exact reverse applies. In 2006, of the Commonwealth specific purpose payment for schools, it is now 33 per cent that goes to the government school system and 67 per cent to the non-government sector, and only 26.3 per cent of recurrent funds go to the nearly 70 per cent of students in public schools.
A focus on the notion of choice constructs education as a commodity that is accessed and purchased for individual benefit. The consequences of this philosophy are extremely serious for public education and the public good. It leads ultimately to the residualisation of public education, and public schooling comes to be regarded as a safety net for those who cannot afford private education. You can see the danger in the promotion of individual choice which marginalises the considerable role that public education has played and continues to play in creating a sense of community and in underpinning the values of a democratic society. At the extreme, this philosophy of choice as an individual freedom leads to the dangerous proposition that all schools should be funded as though they are all the same - the no-difference theory, as it is described by Professor Alan Reid from the University of South Australia. Radical forms of this no-difference theory are promoted by those who advocate the introduction of a voucher system in education. No difference, they say - though nearly 70 per cent of all our students are in public education, which also happens to educate 88 per cent of our Indigenous students and 82 per cent of children with disabilities. And they claim 'no difference.'
Bravo! Jennie George. What a pity that Mr Rudd is trying to tell us that there is 'no difference' and can't even bring himself to use the term 'Public Education'. On the contrary, he is only prepared to ignore the difference between public and private because Cardinal Pell must be kept on side at all costs!
Jennie George like Sir Henry Parkes is a supporter of the historic definition of public education namely Public education which is public in purpose, benefit, access, ( to all children, teachers, etc regardless of class, colour, creed or culture) ownership, control, funding, accountability and provision.
In the early 1980s Jennie George, along with Lyle Schunter, Ross Butler, and others, combined to defeat the integration of the public with the private system by teacher unionists led by the Victorian group. The integration of the public with the private system, once again being pushed by the Rudd government, spells the death of the public system.
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AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
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|Last modified:Thursday, 31 January 2008|