Why do we need to divide our schools by race, creed, or wealth?

An article on The Punch this morning argues that kids should be exposed to people from all walks of life. The author is writing about the positive effect for kids at schools in Inverbrackie who will now be exposed first-hand to children seeking asylum:

Some of the asylum seeker children now living in Inverbrackie will be going to local schools.

It would be a fair bet that the children already in those schools will have absorbed the community’s conflicting messages. Who knows what that does to a young mind, which can be curious and welcoming but can also be full of fear of the unknown.

So with any luck that fear will be eradicated once they’re meeting the asylum seeker children in the playground, sitting next to them in the classroom, sharing their food and their stories.

Evolution has left us with a tendency towards tribalism, a tendency that should be overcome through education, starting with children.

Isn’t this also one of the critical arguments against religious schools? Keeping children in their own little religious tribal group, not exposed to those from different backgrounds? It’s not just that it’s wrong to indoctrinate kids with one particular philosophy without exposing them reasonably to alternatives; it’s not even just that it limits their ability to find out about rights they have that their community might not want them to know about – it’s simply this: that part of growing into a healthy, reasonable human being involves being regularly exposed to those different to yourself.

And yet we’ve divided our education system into little ghettoes – the Roman Catholic, the Jew, The Exclusive Brethren, the Muslim, the secular; and the rich and the poor. That’s how to divide a community, not bring it together.

I can’t see it happening in the short term, but surely it would be a positive long-term goal to create a single, unified education system in which all our kids – regardless of their parents wealth, race, or creed – learn together. Why should that be controversial?

About these ads

52 responses to “Why do we need to divide our schools by race, creed, or wealth?

  1. “but surely it would be a positive long-term goal to create a single, unified education system in which all our kids – regardless of their parents wealth, race, or creed – learn together”

    We have that Jeremy; it’s called the Public Education System. Unfortunately, it’s been stripped of funding by a succession of governments, led to despair by a politically correct and self serving beuracracy and is now staffed by demoralised and powerless teachers .

    I was a great champion of the public school system until I saw what it was doing to my kids and then I had no hesitation in placing them in private religous schools. Which is probably exactly what governments want us to do.

    My kids have thrived there.

  2. Well, we’ve never had a single system – there’ve always been ways for parents to opt out, to keep their kids secure in their own religious/racial/socio-economic group. Catholic schools, private schools etc.

    I’d rather send my kids to a public school and pay for tutors to cover the outrageous funding inadequacies, to be honest.

  3. Why should that be controversial?

    Because this is a free country. If I* genuinely believe that my child’s social and moral development is best served by sticking them in a closeted religious school then I should be free to make that choice without government interference.

    I agree that the taxpayer should not feel obliged to contribute funds to assist me in that choice, but there should not be rules preventing that choice being made if I am willing to fund it.

    (* this is the hypothetical “I”. I don’t actually believe in closeted religious schooling, although I admit that I will probably send my kids to a private school if I can afford it since I believe the private system offers a better educational outcome) .

  4. The reasons we ended up sending the kids to private school were many and varied and the lack of a “good” education was just one of them, which as you point out, could have been covered by tutors.

    The tipper for me was the almost complete lack of interest the teachers and principal had in education or the children. As one of my kids said; “why bother doing homework if the teachers can’t be bothered checking it?”

    There were numerous episodes of us contacting the school with questions and/or concerns with no-one bothering to contact us back. The school gave the distinct impression that they could not give a shit and were more concerned about their next pupil free day than they were about teaching.

  5. I would also add that I think my kids are exposed to many more racial groups at their current schools than they were at public schools.

  6. “Because this is a free country. If I* genuinely believe that my child’s social and moral development is best served by sticking them in a closeted religious school then I should be free to make that choice without government interference.”

    This is the thing though: you’re looking at it from the parents’ perspective, not the child’s. I’d argue limiting a child’s basic rights like that is a form of child abuse (although quite different from what’s usually meant by that term, of course).

  7. What ‘basic rights’ are you referring to Lefty?

  8. To a decent, well-rounded education, free of discrimination and indoctrination.

  9. “I’d argue limiting a child’s basic rights like that is a form of child abuse”

    Are you serious? Are you seriously suggesting that by sending my children to a school where they are receiving an excellent education, are completely engaged with their school and the community, respect and receive respect from their teachers and are thriving educationally and socially I’m committing child abuse?

    Normally I have reasonable respect for what you write Jeremy, but that’s one of the dimmest fucking arguments I’ve ever read.

  10. The right to an education that meets agreed basic minimums is certainly something most would support.

    However it can equally be argued that being allowed to believe whatever you want to believe (and to teach those beliefs to your children) is also a relatively fundamental human right.

  11. “Are you serious? Are you seriously suggesting that by sending my children to a school where they are receiving an excellent education, are completely engaged with their school and the community, respect and receive respect from their teachers and are thriving educationally and socially I’m committing child abuse?”

    No – “like that” referred to Mondo’s hypothetical “sticking them in a closeted religious school”.

    Giving your children a more privileged education than their peers is not any kind of “abuse” of them – but by accepting their privilege over other equally deserving children, the government is implicitly punishing those kids.

    PJH, please don’t start taking this argument personally. It is not about your kids, or your decision.

    Mondo – I disagree that indoctrinating your kids by sending them to a school where they won’t be exposed to alternative views with which you do not personally agree is any kind of human right at all.

  12. ‘by accepting their privilege over other equally deserving children, the government is implicitly punishing those kids”

    I suppose that’s an extreme leftist view of the world, one which I’m not really sure I understand. Are you saying that because some kids get sent to private schools, the kids in the public schools are being punished?? Sorry, not sure I understand that logic.

    No, I’m not taking it personally; see “my” as the royal “we”. I just think the argument that descends into an accusation of child abuse over school choice is really insulting to kids that have experienced real abuse and complete bollocks.

  13. Well, you’ll note that I was careful to distinguish it from what we tend to refer to as “child abuse”, so the “insult” there is somewhat limited.

    And the point is that if we have a two-tier system – where wealthy parents can give their kids privileges at the very basic level of their day-to-day schooling that has two effects:
    1. Those kids have a massive advantage when competing for university places, jobs etc when they graduate; and
    2. It enables governments to underfund the public system. If all kids, including their own, including those of the powerful, are all going to the same schools, then it’s harder to let them atrophy.

    “Being punished” might not be the best phrase for what I mean – but the existence of a second, higher tier for the fortunate kids does entrench the disadvantage of others, both comparatively (and they will end up competing with each other) and in real terms.

  14. Mondo – I disagree that indoctrinating your kids by sending them to a school where they won’t be exposed to alternative views with which you do not personally agree is any kind of human right at all.

    The right of a parent to teach their children whatever belief system they wish and the right of the child to receive a decent education do not have to be competing rights.

    However if we allow the State to define ‘decent education’ to encompass the adoption of a particular belief system (as much as I might personally agree with that belief system) and to legally enforce that system, then the two rights will begin to conflict.

    You’re veering into social engineering territory Lefty which, at least in my view, is an unreasonable restriction of individual liberty.

  15. So if you don’t mean child abuse, don’t call it child abuse.

    And yes, we have a two tiered system, just as we do in the health system. And whilst that may create some level of disparity it’s a necessity. To have a totally government run education or health system is a financial impossibility unless of course you want to go down the communist path.

    And thanks but I really wouldn’t class myself as wealthy.

  16. “So if you don’t mean child abuse, don’t call it child abuse.”

    Define “child abuse”.

    I’m talking about treatment of children that ought not be accepted by the community. I’m not talking about beating or neglecting them. If you don’t think “child abuse” covers then former because you’re arbitrarily limiting it to the latter, then what term would satisfy you?

    “And yes, we have a two tiered system, just as we do in the health system. And whilst that may create some level of disparity it’s a necessity. To have a totally government run education or health system is a financial impossibility unless of course you want to go down the communist path.”

    Why? You’re saying if we have fully government-run health and education systems we’ll have to nationalise all industry and adopt a brutal authoritarian police state?

    Mondo –
    “However if we allow the State to define ‘decent education’ to encompass the adoption of a particular belief system (as much as I might personally agree with that belief system) and to legally enforce that system, then the two rights will begin to conflict. “

    The absence of a particular belief system is not a particular belief system itself. “Secular” is not a religion.

    “You’re veering into social engineering territory Lefty which, at least in my view, is an unreasonable restriction of individual liberty.’

    I’m objecting to the state sitting back while parents have their kids indoctrinated in school time.

  17. “I’m talking about treatment of children that ought not be accepted by the community.”

    Which bit of sending children to a private school or sending them to a public school ought not be accepted by the community? What about home schooling? It’s not abuse of any kind, I’m really not sure what you mean by that.

    “You’re saying if we have fully government-run health and education systems we’ll have to nationalise all industry and adopt a brutal authoritarian police state?”

    Probably, yes. The states taxes would be so high there would certainly be an uprising rthat would need suppressing. Seriously though, at current costs and with current trends it is estimated that by 2020, the state health budget would be consuming approximately 80% of this states finances. I know we’re talking Education but the analogy’s there. Private sectors exist to reduce pressure on the public system.

  18. ‘Which bit of sending children to a private school or sending them to a public school ought not be accepted by the community?”

    The bit where the community accepts kids being taken out of the basic universal education system that gives all kids an equal and fair go.

    BTW is it an imposition on our liberty that we’re forced to send our kids to school at all? I’d say no.

    “It’s not abuse of any kind, I’m really not sure what you mean by that.”

    You keep ignoring what I actually referred to as a form of “abuse”.

    “The states taxes would be so high there would certainly be an uprising rthat would need suppressing. “

    That seems absurd. The extra cost would be the kids whose parents can currently afford to pay private school fees. The increase in taxes could be applied against those able to afford that now, and would be less than they’re paying in school fees now.

    You think the rich will riot in the streets at having to pay more tax? And that we should be sympathetic to their need to give their children a leg up over the rest of them?

  19. Jeremy all this talk of “rich”, disadvantaged”, “indoctrinated”, etc, seems to hark back to some Victorian England era with the upperclass sending their children to Eton whilst the rabble lived in squalor and ate cold porridge in the gutter.

    The vast majority of families I know that send their kids to private schools are your average “working families” to quote some politician. They’re not rich, they’re not upperclass, they’re just disillusioned with the public school system. You think these people can just absorb extra taxes?

    “I’d argue limiting a child’s basic rights like that (ie sticking them in a closeted religious school) is a form of child abuse ”

    I’m not ignoring it. I maintain, in my opinion, that your original speculation is complete bollocks and a complete distortion of the word “abuse” .

  20. The absence of a particular belief system is not a particular belief system itself.

    Agreed, but you’re clearly arguing that denying children the opportunity to experience other cultures and peoples is harmful to their overall development as a human being, and should therefore be banned. That view can hardly be defined as the “absence of a belief system”, in fact it seems very much like a belief system to me.

    “Secular” is not a religion.

    No, but is is a belief system, one that you and I happen to share.

  21. Lefty – do you really want to force all Australians to send their children to homogenous government-run schools?

    Isn’t that taking things a bit far?

  22. Splatterbottom

    Education is first and foremost the responsibility of the parents. The state may have a role where parents are unwilling or unable to educate their children.

    What we don’t need is Big Brother forcing everyone into the same educational straight-jacket. We have a flexible system at the moment which allows parental choice, and this is way preferable to having our childrens’ lives micromanaged by the state.

  23. “do you really want to force all Australians to send their children to homogenous government-run schools”

    You could bet that within weeks of the state setting up homogenous government run schools, there would be private schools springing up all over the place with waiting lists a mile long

  24. “Agreed, but you’re clearly arguing that denying children the opportunity to experience other cultures and peoples is harmful to their overall development as a human being, and should therefore be banned.”

    I was sent to several religous private schools as a child, some of which taught creationism and other unscientific nonsense as fact. I had never met an atheist (who would admit that fact) until I was in university – and was taught to be terrified of such “satan worshippers”. Took years to flush the stupid out of my brain. And these were mainstream Catholic and Lutheran schools – not fringe nut schools.

    Too right religious private schools should be banned as harmful to a child’s heathly development – parents don’t just send their kids there for a better education but to avoid exposure to ideas toxic to their stone age beliefs. And to also avoid exactly what the blog post was arguing – contact with people who are different.

    In this case, the right of the child not to have their head filled with harmful nonsense and bigotries far outweighs the parent’s right to determine how their children are educated. If the public education system is busted, then we should work to fix it instead of helping a shadow education system teach lies and bigotry to impressionable kids.

  25. This is ridiculous. Educating a child is well and truly the decision of the parents. And yes, Jeremy, you can argue that this infringes on the rights of the child, but you’re assuming that your opinion about which school will turn the child out better is objectively correct. (It is, but that’s not the point.)

    Parents have every right to raise their children as they see fit, which includes sending them to private schools which include religious curriculum. The government has every right to prevent religious curriculum in the secular public school system; it has no right to dictate to private schools about what they may or may not teach.

    You are effectively arguing that the government should infringe on freedom of religion. I am an atheist and I know you are too. Step back and take a look at what you’re really saying.

  26. “What we don’t need is Big Brother forcing everyone into the same educational straight-jacket. “

    The alternative is parents arbitrarily and inconsistently “choosing” for their children, which is patently unjust.

    “The government has every right to prevent religious curriculum in the secular public school system; it has no right to dictate to private schools about what they may or may not teach. “

    I’d argue it derives from precisely the same right it has to insist that all children attend school.

    “You are effectively arguing that the government should infringe on freedom of religion”

    Not at all. I’m actually arguing that indoctrinating a child with one religion and preventing that child from exposure to others is the real infringement on their freedom of religion.

    “You could bet that within weeks of the state setting up homogenous government run schools, there would be private schools springing up all over the place with waiting lists a mile long”

    Not if they’re not recognised as legitimate schools which qualify as providing the decent education that is compulsory.

    “Lefty – do you really want to force all Australians to send their children to homogenous government-run schools?”

    I want all children to have the same right to a decent education, yes. I don’t want one set of children privileged over another at the very basic level of what they do during school hours, just because of who their parents are. And I don’t want another set disadvantaged because their parents want their education limited by their own religious beliefs.

  27. “The alternative is parents arbitrarily and inconsistently “choosing” for their children, which is patently unjust.”

    Jeremy, what the hell? How is a parent choosing for their child unjust?? I choose to have my child attend swimming lessons so he’s safe around pools and at the beach Is that unjust?

    Sorry mate, but you’ve seriously lost me on this argument. I honestly have no idea what you’re point is.

  28. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “The alternative is parents arbitrarily and inconsistently “choosing” for their children, which is patently unjust.”

    Such is the sick-fuck mind of the modern progressive. Obviously the state knows what is best, and you can’t trust parents with their own children. In fact the best thing is to take the children at birth, house them in identical dormitories, dress them alike (so none is disadvantaged above the other) feed them identical portions of the same food and, if any of them dares grow a little taller, shorten their legs. Because to do otherwise is patently unjust.

  29. “Obviously the state knows what is best, and you can’t trust parents with their own children.”

    I take it you’re calling for the state to remove the obligation for parents to send their children to school compulsorily, then. Being that you don’t have a “sick-fuck mind”.

    “In fact the best thing is to take the children at birth, house them in identical dormitories, dress them alike (so none is disadvantaged above the other) feed them identical portions of the same food and, if any of them dares grow a little taller, shorten their legs.”

    Yes, there’s no difference between providing all children with the same equivalent quality of education (determined by parental ability or preference) and shortening the legs of the tall.

    “I choose to have my child attend swimming lessons so he’s safe around pools and at the beach Is that unjust?”

    No – although it’s unjust that other kids lack the same benefit and are consequently more likely to drown. Perhaps swimming lessons should be compulsory in an ocean-bound country like Australia.

    In any case, I’m talking here about basic schooling – you know, the thing that we make compulsory. The place kids are compelled to be between 9am and 3.15pm each day. THAT is the thing that should be equal.

  30. I’d argue it derives from precisely the same right it has to insist that all children attend school.

    Um, it doesn’t.

    http://www.hea.asn.au/hea/faqs.asp#16

    In any case, nobody believes that ensuring children have an education is wrong. Plenty of people believe that removing religion from that education is wrong, and while the state certainly doesn’t (and shouldn’t) agree, they’re perfectly welcome to set up their own schools. That way everyone can choose what they personally believe is best. That’s the beauty of a free country.

    Not at all. I’m actually arguing that indoctrinating a child with one religion and preventing that child from exposure to others is the real infringement on their freedom of religion.

    This is a daft argument because you’re assuming that we can/should grant children the same rights as adults. Should we also overhaul the system to address their lack of suffrage or freedom of movement?

    Look, I know how silly it all looks from an atheistic perspective, and how it often feels like we shouldn’t have to put up with people’s silly fantasies about invisible sky-daddies. But you do have to see it from their perspective. You do have to recognise that some parents consider it important for their children to have a religious education (THEIR religion, of course). You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept it. Why? Because it’s their children we’re discussing.

    How would you feel if we had a Catholic/Muslim/Hindu government, and it decreed that not only would all public schools be Catholic/Muslim/Hindu, but that no private schools would be permitted to teach any other religion, or no religion? This is where government paternalism runs off the tracks – when it comes up against citizens who disagree.

    There are any number of laws we could enact that would greatly increase the health of our society, but which would also infringe upon our personal freedoms. A similar example would be the oft-cited “parenting classes” that people would have to attend before having children. A good idea in theory, but are we really comfortable with forbidding people from reproducing unless they can measure up to the state’s (i.e. the government’s) expectations?

    You’re swimming against a tide of contrary opinion and seem to be getting more stubborn. I usually agree with everything you write, but this time you’ve coming across exactly as the kind of mythical Authoritarian Lefty Radical that Bolt readers like to harp on about.

  31. “Um, it doesn’t.”

    Let me rephrase that, then: I’d argue it derives from precisely the same right it has to insist that all children receive a proper education.

    Parents don’t have the “freedom” to do whatever the hell they want to their children.

    “In any case, nobody believes that ensuring children have an education is wrong.”

    Not after a hundred years of it, no. But you can bet people objected at the time.

    “Plenty of people believe that removing religion from that education is wrong, and while the state certainly doesn’t (and shouldn’t) agree, they’re perfectly welcome to set up their own schools. That way everyone can choose what they personally believe is best. That’s the beauty of a free country.”

    That way everyone can indoctrinate their children as they prefer.

    It’s hardly a free country for those kids.

    “This is a daft argument because you’re assuming that we can/should grant children the same rights as adults. Should we also overhaul the system to address their lack of suffrage or freedom of movement?”

    The same welfare rights. There are reasons why they can’t vote or just go where they like until they reach the age of majority. In contrast, it’s fairly vital that they receive a decent education before then.

    “Look, I know how silly it all looks from an atheistic perspective, and how it often feels like we shouldn’t have to put up with people’s silly fantasies about invisible sky-daddies.”

    I’ve got no issue with people having religious views. What I have an issue with is them imposing them on other people, including their children.

    “You do have to recognise that some parents consider it important for their children to have a religious education (THEIR religion, of course). You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept it. Why? Because it’s their children we’re discussing.”

    It’s astonishing to me how difficult it is to get parents to see that it’s not about them. They don’t own their children. The word “their” in that sentence does not entitle them to do what they like with them. It’s not about what the parent wants – it’s about what’s best for the child.

    See: child custody battles.

    “How would you feel if we had a Catholic/Muslim/Hindu government, and it decreed that not only would all public schools be Catholic/Muslim/Hindu, but that no private schools would be permitted to teach any other religion, or no religion? “

    Clearly a government imposed religion is quite different from a government imposed lack of religion – and I’m not proposing there be no education about religion, either. I’m proposing that it be education rather than indoctrination, and that schools not abuse their position of authority in matters like maths, English and science to pretend that some religious group’s teachings are at the same level.

    Religion should be taught as a social phenomenon, and kids can make up their own mind when they have all the information at their disposal.

    It’s appalling that I graduated from high school without much of a knowledge of Islam, or Hinduism, or any of these other major religions that populate this world – and with a sense that religion equals Christianity. That if I had spiritual feelings, those were obviously proof of the correctness of the views of the particular denomination that ran my school.

    you’ve coming across exactly as the kind of mythical Authoritarian Lefty Radical that Bolt readers like to harp on about.”

    It’s a weird construction of authoritarianism to provide kids with a religion-neutral education and let them make up their own minds.

  32. “It’s a weird construction of authoritarianism to provide kids with a religion-neutral education and let them make up their own minds”

    I think Mitch is referring to some of the comments you made around parents choosing for their child is unjust. Certainly that’s the one I’m still struggling with.

  33. Splatterbottom

    Fortunately the progressives have taken over the curriculum. Study of the evils of globalisation is enforced, Al Gore’s film is mandatory and there is zero chance of any critical examination of the insidious evils of progressive ideology. Political correctness is now mandated and children are well acquainted with the endless cycle of accusation and apology that is required to inculcate unthinking obedience to progressive ideology. Also, children these days are very good at spotting sexism, racism and colonialism in literary classics, which is all they need to know about them.

    The next step is to get rid of those pesky private schools where there is a prospect of heresy being taught. The state knows best and parents have absolutely no right to communicate to their children their view of the world, unless, of course, it accords with the progressive ideology.

    And we should not stop at schools. Children should be banned from all religious services, including their own baptisms. What we need is new generation of red diaper babies, inculcated in the cult of Gaia. Luckily we can count on Jeremy to become the Mustapha Mond of our Brave New World.

  34. For what it’s worth Jeremy I also think you’re coming across as authoritarian.

    You’re setting educational standards based on your own personal preferences and then suggesting that the State enforce them across all parents.

    Presumably you would ban private and/or religious schools under this model? What should the police do when they find out that parents have banded together to send their children to secret underground private schools – arrest them all? Fine them all?

    Would you have the State breaking down doors and storming the classrooms?

    Seriously – think about what you’re proposing.

  35. And now look what you’ve done.

    You’ve given SB a platform from which to launch into one of his retarded ‘woe is me, the reds are coming’ rants.

  36. I’ve thought about this some more and I think that my primary objection here is that you’re not arguing for minimum standards of education to be enforceable for all children, but for the same educational standard to be imposed across all children.

    Under your proposal educational advantages are to be outlawed unless they can be provided to all children equally. This is very different to a system that enforces a decent minimum standard for all, but which allows individuals to exceed that minimum if they (or their parents or their school) have the capacity to do so.

    I’m all for diverting public funds away from private and towards public, but I wouldn’t want to live in a society that restricts the individual’s to seek something better for them and their children if they have the means.

  37. “I’ve thought about this some more and I think that my primary objection here is that you’re not arguing for minimum standards of education to be enforceable for all children, but for the same educational standard to be imposed across all children.”

    No, I am calling for minimum standards – but a minimum standard means a 9-3.15 schooling free of religious indoctrination and without the rich taking the good teachers for their children etc.

    And I don’t agree that “free of religious indoctrination” is indoctrination itself.

    “Under your proposal educational advantages are to be outlawed unless they can be provided to all children equally. “

    No, I don’t mind what parents do after school hours. I’m talking about the basic, compulsory education.

  38. And I don’t agree that “free of religious indoctrination” is indoctrination itself.

    Of course it isn’t, but nobody here is arguing any such semantic nonsense.

    What is being argued is that making it illegal for schools to include religious indoctrination in their syllabus (in addition to ordinary education) is an unreasonable restriction of a Parent’s right to choose what’s best for their kids. You may think you know better than these parents, and you might even be right (I happen to think you are) but it’s pretty outrageous for you to suggest that the State should legally enforce our view over the views of others.

    You and I both attended private religious schools. Are you seriously telling me that our education was unacceptably stunted as a result?

    No, I don’t mind what parents do after school hours. I’m talking about the basic, compulsory education.

    I was talking about school hours Lefty. Under your proposal, individual schools would be prevented from implementing or maintaining any eductional advantages for their students until all other schools in Australia could also implement the same advantages. You quite clearly are arguing not just for a minimum, but for the same educational standard to be enforced across all schools.

    Among (many) other things just consider what impact your proposal would have on innovation in education: all schools would be forced to teach at the lowest common educational standards until new innovations could be rolled out universally. Real educational improvements would be denied to students for years, possibly forever, if the government refused to fund them.

  39. As a sick-fuck progressive, I have no objection to people educating their children as they see fit, as long as they meet some minimum standards set by (OH NO) the state. I do, however, object to having to PAY for all these happy clappy “Christian” schools that teach creationism and other abysmally ignorant horseshit. End government support for private schools.

  40. *and put the money saved into building the best, most inclusive, secular public education system we can. That’s the progressive part.

  41. You may think you know better than these parents, and you might even be right (I happen to think you are) but it’s pretty outrageous for you to suggest that the State should legally enforce our view over the views of others.

    This is my entire argument in a nutshell.

    Parents have the right to shape their children as they see fit. This encompasses far more odious things than religion, such as racism, homophobia and general bigotry. I don’t like it, but the alternative – having the state remove their children to better conform to what we believe is right – is, in my opinion, far worse.

    Are you an experimental utopian lefty or a civil rights lefty? Freedom means nothing unless you are willing to defend the freedom of people to do things you disagree with.

  42. “Are you an experimental utopian lefty or a civil rights lefty? Freedom means nothing unless you are willing to defend the freedom of people to do things you disagree with.”

    Your freedom to swing your fist ends when it encounters my face. Freedom does have limits – it stops when it harms the freedom of others.

    Is a parent’s “freedom” being restricted by preventing them from filling their kids heads with nonsense? Perhaps. But when those kids grow up, and start voting their parent’s nonsense at the ballet box, the rest of society’s freedom will be seriously curtailed.

    Witness the arguments over gay marriage: there is no argument against it that doesn’t boil down to “God said so”. Yet millions of people keep voting “God said so” instead of compassion for their fellow human beings. Because that is what they were taught to believe. It’s learned behaviour, not innate. Stop the teaching of such rubbish in religious schools, and freedom will be enhanced, not curtailed.

    Instead of worrying about theoretical indoctrination from “lefties”, perhaps we should focus on the centuries of actual indoctrination from “righties” that have lead us to a situation where a huge proportion of the populace believes idiotic things about their fellow man and the universe around us that are completely untrue. What is your proposal to fix that? Do you even want to fix it?

  43. What uniquerhys said. The existence of alternative schools either takes rights away from those children – why don’t they have the right to a decent secular education – or, in the case of schools for the wealthy, their existence takes funding and resources (and good teachers) away from other kids.

    “What is being argued is that making it illegal for schools to include religious indoctrination in their syllabus (in addition to ordinary education) is an unreasonable restriction of a Parent’s right to choose what’s best for their kids. “

    I don’t agree that a parent has that right, or that it outweighs a kid’s right to not be indoctrinated.

    And of course we’re talking about the 9-3.15 schooling, not how the parent raises the kid outside that. I’m not proposing enormous state-run orphanages.

    When you say making it “illegal”, I simply mean that the state would not accept those schools as fulfilling the compulsory education requirement that already exists.

    “Under your proposal, individual schools would be prevented from implementing or maintaining any eductional advantages for their students until all other schools in Australia could also implement the same advantages. “

    That’s not my proposal at all. I have no issue with schools adding advantages – what I have an issue with is those advantages being limited to the kids of the rich. If a school finds a better way of doing something and it receives the same funding as other schools, then by all means – and it seems likely that other schools will follow.

    I also don’t have a problem with selective entry schools like Melbourne High or MacRobs – where the extra resources are applied to kids based on their own talent and merit. I’ve no problem with a meritocracy. I’ve a problem with a “luckytobeborntorichparentsocracy”.

    “This is my entire argument in a nutshell.

    Parents have the right to shape their children as they see fit. “

    No, they don’t. There are minimums they cannot cross already – I’m simply suggesting that those be extended to the child’s right to a decent education.

  44. The division in this comment thread is also the same division you tend to see in a debate about inheritance: those who look at it from the point of view of parents giving to their children; and those who look at it from the point of view of the recipients of that benefit/disadvantage, the children themselves (and their peers). Parents’ rights versus the rights of the child.

    If you look at education as being primarily about what the parent wants for their offspring, then little I’m arguing here will make sense to you. If you look at it from the point of view of the children who are disadvantaged by the multi-tier system, on the other hand, it seems bizarre that someone could put parents’ whims ahead of that.

  45. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy, the presumption ought to be that the parents are the best to decide what is in the best interests of their children. This should only be reversed in extreme cases.

    Sadly there is a temptation among socialists and other demagogues, driven by a profound belief in the virtue of their own ideas, that they know what is best for the rest of us. Enhancing the power of the state is an extension of their overweening egos. When they actually take power it usually ends in tears and tyranny. Whether it is the cult of Mao or of Hitler of Stalin, the end result for the people is the same.

  46. That’s not my proposal at all. I have no issue with schools adding advantages – what I have an issue with is those advantages being limited to the kids of the rich.

    Think about this for just a second Lefty.

    You are saying that no educational advantage that stems from increased access to schooling resources can be allowed until all children can access it. You are saying that any parent who wants to inject additional funds into their child’s school in order to deliver a better educational outcome must be prevented from doing so by law.

    In other words, you want to outlaw private schools.

    This is an outrageous curtailing of individual liberty, and a policy that will actively deny children educational opportunities that could otherwise be available to them. Educational opportunities that, incidentally, you enjoyed as an attendee of this country’s most expensive and exclusive private school.

    Ask yourslef – would Australia have been better served if you had been forced to attend public school? Would educating you to a lower standard actually help anybody at all?

    If you look at education as being primarily about what the parent wants for their offspring, then little I’m arguing here will make sense to you.

    That’s a simplistic strawman that does not reflect my views about education at all.

    Education requires that we teach children the facts of the world around them, such as maths, science, history and language, as well as giving them critical analytical and thinking skills. It is about giving them the intellectual tools to succeed in, and contribute to, this world. It is not about challenging their parents ideological or religious beliefs.

    And it sure as hell isn’t about cutting everyone down to the lowest common denominator just so that a handful of fundamentalists among us can reassure themselves that the world is ‘fair’.

  47. “You are saying that no educational advantage that stems from increased access to schooling resources can be allowed until all children can access it. You are saying that any parent who wants to inject additional funds into their child’s school in order to deliver a better educational outcome must be prevented from doing so by law.”

    No, I’m not. I’m saying that any institution that charges fees for access should not qualify as part of the compulsory education system.

    You want to pay extra for your kids to go to Super Special After School, go ahead. But your kids attend the same basic school as everyone else, and kids are not excluded from that same school on the basis of whether their parents can afford to pay or not.

    “Ask yourslef – would Australia have been better served if you had been forced to attend public school? Would educating you to a lower standard actually help anybody at all?”

    I expected better of you than the ad-hom, but in any case – yes. Australia would’ve been better served if privileged kids like I was (and it’s not like I did anything in particular to deserve the advantages I was given) attended the same schools as everyone else; if the rich and powerful had to care about the public system because their kids attended it as well.

    “And it sure as hell isn’t about cutting everyone down to the lowest common denominator just so that a handful of fundamentalists among us can reassure themselves that the world is ‘fair’.”

    I don’t see why the state should accept condemning some kids to a second-class education system – the direct result of giving privileged kids exclusive access to a “first-class” one.

  48. No, I’m not. I’m saying that any institution that charges fees for access should not qualify as part of the compulsory education system.

    In other words you want to ban private schools. That’s an extreme position Lefty.

    I expected better of you than the ad-hom, but in any case – yes.

    That wasn’t an ad-hom. I’m not attacking or deriding you for attending a private school – I attended one also. I’m merely pointing out that you undoubtedly received a higher level of education than you otherwise would have had you been forced to attend the local state-run public school, and that Australia is better off by virtue of your superior education.

    Nobody would have benefitted from forcing you to attend a less-rigorous academic institution. Public school kids wouldn’t have received a better education simply because you were denied a superior one.

    But tell me – how is your after-school tutoring proposal any more fair than allowing private schools? Under this system rich kids would still get access to a better education simply by virtue of their parent’s wealth – so what’s the difference?

  49. I don’t want to ban private schools. I just want to scale back the governemnt largesse provided to them on a means-tested basis, as well as ensuring that any private school expelling a child will have any government entitlement provided in relation to that child clawed back in a pro-rata basis. Call me an anti-socialist libertarian if you must…

  50. jordanrastrick

    Debates concerning the respective interests of parents and the State in the welfare of children are always interesting and difficult. See the protective removal of children for an extreme and rather fraught example (where the government is pretty much both damned if they do take kids away from risky family situations, and damned if they don’t.)

    I’m sympathetic to both sides of the argument in this particular case.

    The rich sending their kids to better schools is probably the strongest mechanism for entrenching intergenerational privilege in our society. But I don’t see how to do anything effective about it without going down the dystopian path of authoritarianism that basically everyone here except Jeremy is concerned about.

    You want to pay extra for your kids to go to Super Special After School, go ahead.

    This would of course happen (it already does, to an extent), and privileged kids would still end up with better educations. Arbitrarily restricting institutions that offer “basic schooling” from charging fees can’t prevent it. And you’d see consequences from other parents using other workarounds to the restriction too, like skyrocketing property prices in suburbs where the schools have a good reputation (I know people who have already decided where to move on this basis, since they wanted to send their kids to a public school, but most of the public schools in Sydney didn’t meet their standards.)

    I don’t see why the state should accept condemning some kids to a second-class education system – the direct result of giving privileged kids exclusive access to a “first-class” one

    That depends heavily on whether the you care about absolute or relative standards. If its the latter, short of the kind of measures SB has mocked, you’re never going to be able to prevent rich kids being better off. If its the former, you can certainly improve the absolute value of public education without placing any restrictions on private education.

    In practice, charter-type schools – funded by the government but autonomously controlled by independent organisations, with parents free to choose where to enroll their children – thus providing something akin to market pressures to improve performance – seem to provide better educational outcomes, for the poor as well as the rich, than existing public systems. See the experience in post-Katrina New Orleans, for example; although is admittedly more mixed evidence from Sweden.

  51. If you look at education as being primarily about what the parent wants for their offspring, then little I’m arguing here will make sense to you. If you look at it from the point of view of the children who are disadvantaged by the multi-tier system, on the other hand, it seems bizarre that someone could put parents’ whims ahead of that.

    As I’ve already explained, I do agree that what you are proposing would lead to a healthier society – but I think it would infringe upon freedom to the point where the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.

    What it essentially boils down to is that you may be wrong. You think that enforcing a secular education would be beneficial, and that not doing so is robbing children of their “rights.” There are many people – many parents – who believe that forcing them into secular schools would be a similar denial of their rights. You say you’re arguing not for the parent’s freedom, but for the children’s freedom… to be put into a school of your choosing. This is a fairly obvious logical fallacy.

  52. “What it essentially boils down to is that you may be wrong. You think that enforcing a secular education would be beneficial, and that not doing so is robbing children of their “rights.” There are many people – many parents – who believe that forcing them into secular schools would be a similar denial of their rights.”

    See, that only makes sense if secular, neutral education is just another flavour of religious education.

    Which it isn’t. The lack of indoctrination isn’t indoctrination itself.

    “That depends heavily on whether the you care about absolute or relative standards. If its the latter, short of the kind of measures SB has mocked, you’re never going to be able to prevent rich kids being better off. If its the former, you can certainly improve the absolute value of public education without placing any restrictions on private education.”

    Well, to start with all these kids end up competing at the end of their schooling, for uni places, for jobs. They end up competing for the country’s resources. They influence each other, and the rest of us in how they act in the community, how they vote, how they continue our country.

    And the more the rich can opt out of the school system, the more badly it gets neglected.

    “But tell me – how is your after-school tutoring proposal any more fair than allowing private schools? Under this system rich kids would still get access to a better education simply by virtue of their parent’s wealth – so what’s the difference?”

    Ah, but their kids have to spend 6 hours a day in the system with everyone else. That might make them care a little more that that system be decent, be first class.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s