Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Public Education In Australia

It seems that lately, the public education system in Australia is being treated like an altar boy in a catholic church.  Across the States and Territories and also Federally, it seems that public education is something the governments want to get off their books.  They are treating public education as if it is a blight on our country, on their ability to balance their books and as if it something best handled by the churches and corporations.

This is a very, very disturbing trend.

Late last year we held a Humanist Society of Queensland conference on the infiltration of the public education system in Queensland by religious agendas and some of the information delivered at this conference was quite disturbing.  What we've seen recently from our governments at all levels does nothing to help quash these feelings of unease.

In September, 2012, John-Paul Langbroek, the Queensland Education Minister, announced Queensland's first independent State Schools: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-18/langbroek-announces-qlds-first-independent-state-schools/4267388. In January 2013 the Qld Government actually announced this officially: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2013/1/23/independent-public-schools-making-history.  The concern here is that these "State Schools" will be taken over by religious agendas or corporate agendas - both of which are quite distasteful.  We need to ensure our public school system is free from the taints of both religion and corporate influence.

Two recent articles, the first published in The Hoopla (http://thehoopla.com.au/class-public-school-love/?cpg=2) by Wendy Harmer and the second in the ABC's "The Drum" (http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4487550.html) by Jane Caro - both well known promoters of public sanity and secularism - bring this issue of the treatment of our public school system into the light.  We need to make sure we get behind this issue as public education - secular public education - should never be the lowest common denominator and should never be what's left at the bottom of the barrel for those families without the financial resources to afford a "quality private education" for their children.

These two articles follow on from former High Court Judge Michael Kirby's article in the Sydney Morning Herald in December 2012 (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/we-need-look-only-to-australias-past-to-give-public-education-a-future-20121203-2ar56.html) asking people to take a serious look at the benefits of a functional and effective public education system here in Australia.

One thing we, as a public who cares about the future of public education in this country, can do is to attend local Parents and Citizens' Associations meetings.  You don't need to be a parent of a child in that school to attend a P&C meeting - you don't even need to be a parent of a child to be included under the "Citizens" part of that banner.  What you need to be is a parent and/or citizen who is concerned about the direction that public education is taking in this country and who is willing to stand up and be counted when necessary.

The Secular Party of Australia supports a properly funded, well respected public education system and strongly encourages our Government to implement the Gonski Review recommendations with a few amendments that can be found here.

If you value the secular education of Australian children, please be sure to read the articles referenced earlier, investigate what's happening at your local public school(s), take an active role by joining a local P&C meeting and make sure your vote in future elections helps to tell our Governments how important this issue is to you - not to mention to the future of Australia.

Edit: I forgot to mention the great article that Chrys Stevenson wrote for ABC's Religion and Ethics on the Humanist Society of Queensland's Separation Of Church And State Schools conference held in 2012.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Toowoomba Critical Thinkers Jan 2013

I'll be up in Toowoomba on the night of the 16th January and as there's been some interest in holding another meeting, well, we may as well do it then - sorry for the short notice, I've been rather busy this past week or two...

So, if you know anyone in or around Toowoomba who may be interested in meeting some folks capable of critical thinking, rationalism and skepticical thought, feel free to invite them along. I'll be the wookie-looking guy in the front bar with a black "Quark IT" shirt on (as I'm up there for work on Tues/Wed/Thurs that week).



The Outspoken Wookie