31 JULY  2007





Chris Bonnor and Jane Caro have  written an expose of the mess that politicians, administrators, academics  and private school operators have created in the educational arena throughout Australia.

In particular they have attempted to chart  the destructive forces let loose on our public education systems .In doing so they lament the dismantling of public education systems which have delivered free, secular, compulsory and equitable educational opportunities to the nation.

The fate of our public education systems is in fact a symptom of a very stupid country.

Unfortunately Chris Bonnor and Jane Caro, however pure their motives, have failed to bite the bullet. They fail to confront the very simple fact that public education can survive a genuinely independent system, but once State Aid is given to the private sector and powerful Church interests gain political ascendancy, in other words now we no longer have Separation of Church and State, the checks and balances at all levels of our civic polity have been  corrupted. It is inevitable that the  majority of children are bound to suffer. And suffer they are.

Bonnor and Caro get to the edge of this problem again and again, and then- they turn away. They have failed to confront the Church School bureaucracies and dance around the mulberry bush leading us toward an integrated or shared facilities system. In the event this amounts to the privatisation of public education.

They seem to have a naive belief that somehow or other their schemes offer a better resolution than all that has gone before. They are sadly mistaken.

The last forty years of Commonwealth Funding proves them wrong. Governments and their  administrators have not and cannot hold private church schools accountable for expenditure of public money. The State governments tried in the nineteenth century to hold Church Schools accountable and the bishops took them out from under the State. State Aid was withdrawn and the public systems were protected. The democratic procedures were also protected. In the second half of the twentieth century the State collapsed before a powerful Church lobby. The children and their education didn't matter and never have mattered as much as power and pence to Church hierarchies.

They either cannot or will not confront or understand the simple problems facing our "stupid" democracy. The centuries old lesson is that a connection between Church and State is bad for the State and even worse for religion.

As they lament the growing inequalities between the private and the public sector, they refuse to confront the simple fact that private church schools exist to divide children on the basis of religion and ability to pay. To link their ideology and resources to the public sector is to swamp the very rationale for the public sector, offering the "Stupid Country"a variation of the failures of the past and the further dismantling of the public sector.

Bonnor and Caro have failed to understand or analyse the differences  and dynamics between the Australian and overseas experiences, together with the political/religious dynamics.

To be positive - they refer to "the right ingredients and principles" and, in passing, attempt to comprehend the concept of public education. Unfortunately their understanding is not comprehensive enough.


DOGS consider that children should have the right to have a free secular system of education which :

  •  public in purpose

  • public in benefit

  • public in access (to all children, parents and teachers etc regardless of class, creed, colour, geographical location)

  • public in ownership

  • public in control

  • Public in accountability

  • Public in funding ( sole recipient of public funding)

  • Public in provision

If any of the above ingredients is left out, then the public education system and our children's opportunities are in jeopardy.

 DOGS note with interest that the index of this book does not list either the New South Wales Teachers Federation or the DOGS.

Yet there would be no public education system left to fight for, if it had not been for the strong stand taken by these organisations.

For those who have followed and been on the inside of the battle for public education in the last half century, it is saddening to find that Bonnor and Caro cannot find a place for the organisations that have held the line for public education yet find a place in their Index for the following :

  • Tom Bentley

  • Brian Caldwell

  • Lyndsay Connors

  •  Democratic Labour Party

  • Milton Freidman

  • Barry McGaw

  • Hugh McKay






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Last modified:Thursday, 09 August 2007