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Since the 1960s many academics from  the Faculty of Education at Melbourne University have failed to support public education. They have helped to undermine its primacy, and public education being the sole recipient of taxpayer funds. In particular they have consistently undermined the concept of centralised bureaucracy, even though this was the basis of equality of opportunity for children from disadvantaged families and the rural sector.

Many have decided to espouse the apologetics of privatisation in education. Public Education on the other hand, is fair game.

In this context, DOGS refer readers to an article by Professor Caldwell Dean of Education at the University of Melbourne from The Australian, 4 March 2002 page 9 in which he selectively refers to the work of Professor Freeman Butts in his Assumptions Underlying Australian Education, first published in May 1955.

"It is nearly 50 years since distinguished educationalist, Freeman Butts observed the extraordinary level of centralisation in Australian school systems."

Caldwell then continues to promote even further decentralisation of the public education system, advocating dramatic change.

DOGS suggest that if readers really want to know something about public education they leave Professor Caldwell and read Professor Freeman Butt's booklet in its entirety. They will soon discover that he is in direct conflict with   Caldwell on the matter of funding.

Consider some of the following quotes from the work of Freeman Butts. They represent the position taken by DOGS:

" I believe in the primacy of public education.I assume there should be large freedom for private and religious groups to maintain schools by voluntary means. I assume there should be large freedom for private and religious groups to maintain schools by voluntary means....Increasing public support for private schools will tend to weaken the public schools and tend to create or perpetuate stratified divisions in a culture  whether along economic, social class, religious, or racial lines.

I believe in the separation of church and state and in the principle of religious freedom. The churches should be free from control by the state, and the state should be free from political control by ecclesiastical agencies. The public education system should not be an agency for promoting sectarian creeds or doctrines, but should rather uphold the principle of freedom of religious conscience...."

" I assume that in a democratic and complex society education should be available freely and equally to all people. In general I believe in more education for more people rather than a little education for the many and a great deal of education for the few. The educational base of a democratic society should be broad and generous. I believe in equality of educational opportunity rather than in a stratified dual system of education whether that dualism be along lines of race, religion, economic status, social class, or sheer intellectual ability.

I believe in the value of a common public system of education from the lowest to the highest level supported at public expense and open freely to all children and youth, irrespective of social or economic status, religion, creed or national origin. ....


I believe that a public system of education in a democracy should be administered in such a way as to give all those concerned an appropriate share in the control of education. "

DOGS suggest that Caldwell go back to Freeman Butts and consider his statements on centralisation in the light of the strong beliefs he outlined above.

" I have nothing but praise for your efforts to provide equal educational facilities throughout a state system. To find good buildings and well-prepared and well-paid teachers in the poorest and most remote sections of a State as well as in the wealthiest and most densely populated areas is, I believe, a remarkable achievement. I would not find this same quality in the United States. "

Freeman Butts linked this equality with the strong centralised state systems Australia enjoyed in the 1950s. His concerns with over-centralisation have been used by academics obsessed with "means" and "administrative leadership studies" to pull down those strong bureaucratic support systems and too often throw out the baby with the bathwater.

DOGS believe that Caldwell not only got Freeman Butts' whole message wrong. He has also failed to research the current situation in the United Kingdom when he claims

"Divisive debates about public and private schools have largely disappeared in these nations and there should be a determined effort to achieve the same outcome in Australia. "

DOGS refer readers to the Scottish public opinion survey of March 4, 2002 reported in the Glasgow Evening Times . This reveals that 81% of Scots want separate Catholic schools to close down. And in November 2001 80% of the English population were against the expansion of New Faith Schools. The Observer poll found that New Faith Schools were more unpopular than Rail Privatisation and the Poll Tax.

If Brian Caldwell is just reading the Australian newspapers he would not be aware of such surveys. Church schools are a cancer in the body politic and they have corroded and eroded the democratic processes in this country. One of the central elements is a Free Press and DOGS have discovered that since the 1960s this has not been the case in relation to State Aid to private schools.
DOGS believe that the Church School interest have also corroded academia in relation to vital questions dealing with public education. Caldwell's article is a symptom of a much larger malaise.











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Last modified:Monday, 25 April 2005