– Letter to editor – Education in the Spotlight

Education in the spotlight

Lisa Chesters was quoted in the Bendigo Weekly, May 24th (2013) saying ‘1 in 12 students [are] not reaching minimum education standards’ as a reason for “an extra 4 billion or about $1.8 million per (Victorian public) school on average, over the next 6 years”.  But will more money raise the educational standards of young Australians?

A recent OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report found ‘a weak relationship between student performance and material and financial resources, particularly among industrialised nations. ’ So … why the hard sell?

Education is a very effective political tool with which to mold your children. The development of the Australian Curriculum is guided by the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians 2008  which states ‘Schools play a vital role in promoting the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development of young Australians.  That statement begs the question; schools play a vital role in promoting whose social, emotional, moral and spiritual values? Yours? Mine?  John Dewey is quoted as saying, ‘Schools do have a role – and an important one – in production of social change’. Similarly, Mussolini refused to compromise about the right of the state to educate children and Hitler said, ‘Let me control the textbooks and I will control the state.’

Recently, many people across Australia were ‘up in arms’ at the prospect of a government media watch dog, presumably because we don’t trust the government.  Australians wouldn’t allow the government to use taxpayer funding to set up a nationwide chain of public newspapers, and compel all citizens to study them and yet this, in effect, describes our education system.

The content of the Australian Curriculum is heavily influenced by political  agendas; ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures’, ‘Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia’ and Sustainability are all cross curriculum priorities to be included in all subjects including Health and Physical Education. Sexuality education has been identified as an essential curriculum component of health education. In ‘Catching on Early: Sexuality Education for Victorian Primary Schools’ The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), Family Planning Australia and the Rainbow Network are the organisations listed for professional learning for teachers.

Does the ARCSHS, Family Planning Australia, and the Rainbow Network promote/endorse/support your social, emotional, moral and spiritual values? Globally there are millions of new cases of HIV  reported annually and yet Professor Marian Pitts, director of ARCSHS, signed a statement requesting ‘Laws forcing HIV-positive people to disclose their status before having sex should be repealed’.  Whose values? Yours? Mine?  A Family Planning Victoria pamphlet advises, types of ‘Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) … cause various types of cancer’ and in the next line, ‘Genital HPV is so common it’s almost considered a normal part of being sexually active’. This Implies HPV is inevitable. Whose values? Yours? Mine? The Rainbow Network provides resources for schools such as the Pridentity Kit which describes itself on page 10 as ‘… an effort to cement sexual diversity into the curriculum of schools, normalising and celebrating the diversity of their communities’. Whose values? Yours? Mine? And where is it leading? If more money won’t raise the educational standards of young Australians what will it do?

Abraham Lincoln said, ‘The philosophy of the school rooms in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.’  So are our long cherished values and healthy life choices –  going going Gonski?

Education is in the spotlight and so is the federal election.

Sandra Caddy