Pathetic debate on education last night

I am not a total fan of some aspects of the government’s policies on education: see NAPLAN for example. But I was underwhelmed by Christopher Pyne as he debated Simon Crean last night on the 7.30 Report. He did, however, inadvertently give away the true aim of Liberal Party education policy – ultimate privatisation of schooling via a voucher mechanism.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, rather than just talking rhetoric, Kerry, like Simon did, what I’d like to give you is some of the examples of our policy. So we are going to massively expand the education tax rebate, because we recognise that education is an enormous cost to families. We’re going to increase the rebate to $500 for primary schoolchildren and $1,000 for high school children, and most importantly, we’re gonna expand it far beyond what Labor has paid it for, to things like fees in government and non-government schools, the extra costs for children with special needs like those with dyslexia, but also teaching, for music, for other kids of tutoring, for uniforms as well as for books. So the education tax rebate will be massively expanded. We’re going to immediately address what I regard as the discrimination against young people with disabilities in schooling who at the moment if they are in a government school attract State Government funding, but if they move to a non-government school, lose most of that funding. We will establish an education card of $20,000 per student, per year to be paid to our most severely disabled children to begin with and then expanded over the years into the future.

Kerry, unfortunately Simon has come into this debate unprepared and without specifics, but I can tell you if a Coalition government is elected, we will expand the education tax rebate, we will introduce an education card for young people with disabilities, we will give principals more autonomy, we’ll pay the remaining billion dollars in the school hall stimulus fund to the schools directly, the government schools to self-manage the same as non-government schools and we’ll allow them to keep the savings. We’ll have a policy to deal with cyber-bullying, because cyber-bullying’s a big issue for families and for young people. We’ll support teachers in introducing the national curriculum. We’ll get social engineering out of the classrooms to allow teachers to do more teaching and we’ll give principals autonomy to make their own decisions in their school communities, because that is the biggest indicator of whether people will go on to higher education.

And “We’ll get social engineering out of the classrooms to allow teachers to do more teaching” is code for…? How does it square with the opposition’s own policy on cyber-bullying or even on students with disabilities? Aren’t they “social engineering”? I take it that one thing this is code for is so-called “left” agendas such as critical literacy.

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One thought on “Pathetic debate on education last night

  1. Oh dear, trotting out the ‘social engineering’ again. How bloody dreary.

    As a Principal I found teachers to be a very conservative lot when it came to classroom practice. For example, it took me 3 years to convert the junior school from exercise books (very heavy in the backpack) to an A4 pad and folders maintained at home. 3 years to convert from a single school report sheet (difficult to coordinate for comments) to individual subject report sheets (which could be done at any time by individual teachers). Not to mention how long it took to get an alternative to 8 x 40 minute periods in the teaching day. If there is a more conservatively orientated group in the community than teachers, I’d like to know what it is.

    I encountered no teacher who worked to a personal agenda of politicisation of anything.

    Often the hard part was kick-starting an idea. The daily classroom routine was all-consuming. I used to welcome the occasional leftie simply because that person injected some life into staff thinking.

    Leftie social engineering? Give me a break. In one way it would have been refreshing. Perhaps I should have encouraged it.

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