AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
PRESS RELEASE 351
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE
POOR PARISH SCHOOL MYTH?
19 January 2010
The cry of ‘poor parish schools’ which opened the gate to a trickle of taxpayer funding of religious schools in the 1960s and then a flood when the Labor party got to power ( on the anti-Vietnam, not the DLP vote) in 1973, is rarely heard in the twenty first century.
Instead, we now hear how the Catholic sector has boosted its share of HSC honours (The Sydney Morning Herald, Weekend Edition January 16-17, 2010). And how have they done this?
An SMH analysis of official government figures for the past five years discovered that the number of HAC students in the Catholic diocesan system who achieved more than 90 per cent in each of their subjects had almost doubled.
The meaning of the figures was questioned. The President of the Secondary Principles Council, Jim McAlpine, gave two significant reasons:
1. The top all-rounders list was a limited measure that did not capture all students who achieved a ranking of 99 or above since it did not take into account students who specialised in the sciences or the humanities – and so did not score above 90 per cent in every subject.
2. There is now a greater opportunity for Catholic schools to select students from higher SES socio-economic status profiles.
This second reason is the clue to what has happened to the ‘poor parish school myth’. The preferential public and private funding of the corporate religious sector over the past forty years and most particularly in the last decade has tended to divide Australian society along both social class and religious fault lines. Graduates from the Catholic and other religious systems are over-represented in the political, legal and corporate elites of this country.
The billions of dollars upon which the private sector has come to depend have tended to relegate the public sector to a social ‘waste-basket’ system while providing a haven for the wealthy and aspirational classes. This has been done under the “Needs’ rhetoric. The Howard/Rudd SES ‘needs’ model has long since become a sick joke. In order to keep the unholy Protestant/Catholic alliance intact, the original Karmel ‘Needs’ model of 1973, was abandoned before it got off the ground.
DOGS predicted that this would happen in 1964 when the first trickle of State Aid commenced. That trickle has now become a flood worth billions of taxpayer dollars. If those billions were channelled back into our public system we would have a first rate education system. Instead, we have an educational, social and political mess.
The proof of the pudding is now in the eating. The policy of propping up and favouring the private religious sector to the cry of “Needs’ has not only led to the uneconomic duplication of the public system. The parasitic denominational system is undermining the host, and creating unhealthy divisions within our society. The religious schools have never been about the education of all children – including the poor and disadvantaged. They have always been about education for the first class ticket to heaven and the good job.
parish school myth’ should be exposed for what it always was – an excuse for
preferential treatment of the wealthy and aspirational classes of
DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION AND STOP STATE AID TO PRIVATE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS.
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