March 4 2011

The rhetoric and statistics put out as gospel truth by sectarian school lobbyists are threadbare as the result of almost a half-century of taxpayer funding of religious schools. The Fairfax Press  has given the issue some coverage, but the repetition of muddled information together with breast beating of the triumphalist are apparent in the article entitled ‘Bias Rules in Attack on Schools’ by Father Chris Middleton SJ , the principle of St. Aloysius College, Milsons Point, Sydney. The article reproduced in The Age Tuesday March 1, 2011 was an edited extract from his comment in a recent edition of the college’s newsletter. He quotes bald direct grant figures which fail to take into account the incremental costs incurred by the public school systems; taxation exemptions, (otherwise known as taxation expenditures) and capital costs.

He trumpets the fact that ‘non-government schools educate about one in three of all Australian students, most of whom are educated in Catholic schools and various low-fee-paying religious and community schools.’

But the ‘rights of parents’ arguments have given way to a claim that Catholic schools can ‘make a claim for some funding on the basis of the common good.’

What exactly does this mean one wonders?

What does the common good’ really mean for ‘powerful religious groups who promote their peculiar view of theocracy? Does it mean that Australia will go down the path of Southern Ireland where the established religion dominates the education system and calls the government to pay up for religious abuse of children? And what will it mean when other religious groups promote their own version of the common good’?

DOGS had hoped that Australia had learned the lessons of  the religious wars of Europe and the Middle East and enjoyed the fruits of the Enlightenment.


The Middleton article was published in response to an article by Jewel Topsfield in The Age on February 28 entitled Catholic Schools’$39 Million Bonanza. This article revealed the ridiculous inequities involved in Gillard’s continuation of Howard’s version of the ‘Needs’ policy. The internet polling revealed that 73% considered that the Gillard government should cut funding to private schools.

But it was the comments to the article on the internet that indicated that you might fool some people some of the time, but certainly not all of them. DOGS quote from a few:

‘I suppose that the wealthy will next demand that Average Joe taxpayer not only pay for their kids to go to an exclusive private school, but that they also get equal funding for their own private security forces instead of using the state police.’…Dr Mat


‘The Murdoch media will not permit Labor to reduce funding to the richest schools, just like last time. Those people who continue to say that Labor should just ‘do it’, are I suppose the same Green/Anarchist/New Socialist dummies who still cannot count the numbers in the House, just as they couldn’t count the numbers in the Senate in the last parliament when they wanted the Greens ETS policy implemented.

No matter how much some of us want this funding obscenity to cease, our extreme right wing media will never allow it. Of course, this under funded state school/over funded private school policy will eventually destroy the social harmony in Australia, which is why no other country has state funding to elite schools, only funding to independent schools which don’t. School policy will eventually destroy the social harmony in Australia, which is why no other country has state funding to elite schools….Paul


‘The problem here is for the government to show “political courage”- forget it unless the focus groups say it might be a good idea. As for Garrett, well the next time he does something useful will be the first time.’…John in Vermont


Of course it’s a funding obscenity but it’s also nothing unusual in Australia. I have spoken to Labor pollies who admit that they think the private health insurance subsidy is terrible public policy as well. Problem is that a large enough percentage of the voting population has become accustomed to and reliant upon this form of middle-class welfare. Hard to shake households off the public teat. Apparently, baby bonuses, non-means tested home buyers grants, private school and private health insurance subsidies are ácceptable’welfare schemes.’…RikkiA


The government can get it right with government schools, not just McRobs and Melbourne High, Balwyn, Glen Waverley, Mount Waverley and McKinnon are superior to many ‘private’ schools on performance academically despite not having the resources to compete.

Then you have other government schools, which for the sake of the good people who go there I won’t mention, who are struggling for basic needs like warm showers for sports, adequate computing technology and well, lets face, it classroom fit for use and teachers.

Meanwhile one needs only walk through the curated lawns of Scotch, the Yarra Boat sheds by the river and the luxury mini buses of the cricket teams of the privileged few to know the disparity of resources.

One is struggling to exist, the other is struggling for a third coaster for the choir.

Of course the government is too gutless to change it because the wealthy have a louder voice than the poor.’… Dan Warna.

and finally, looking forward perhaps to the Father Middleton article,

Well argued and pretty hard to fault on both ethical and moral grounds. No doubt that will not prevent the wealthy, with their snouts well and truly plunged into the trough, from coming up with some pretty impressive, but vacuous and empty of content, arguments as to why the vast differential in overall funding to wealthy schools should be continued into the foreseeable future. Those arguments are simply code for re-introducing a rigid class system into Australia… Iesm




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