Senator Joyce’s latest Op-ed for the Canberra Times is worthy of contemplation.
Although he does not directly point the finger – of course – nevertheless his article inadvertently highlights a variety of consequences of the creeping international(ist) socialism that is steadily eroding our right to self-determination, both as individuals and as a sovereign nation.
That is … our right to choose:
Private schools are about choice
Billy is much smarter than Ben, in dramatic arts. Paul is much happier than Pam, on Tuesday nights. Private schools get more funding than public schools, from the federal government.
Why does Mr Angelo Gavrielatos, president of the Australian Education Union, only ever tell half the story? This selective assessment of the facts seems to be something that certain sections of the teaching union have specialised in of late. This insinuation of bias towards private schools is deceitful.
Let us presume for one minute that, as many in the eastern states wish, but for which West Australians would fight virulently against, all public funding came from one pot and there were no states in Australia. The all-up government funding for public schools per student is vastly more than the all-up government funding for private schools per student.
On average, each public school gets $14,000 per student per year of public funding and each private school gets $7000 per student per year of public funding.
If you closed down all of the private schools, which no doubt the more radical parts of the teachers’ union would like, the amount of public funding for state school students would actually decrease substantially.
State schools, aka, public schools, are financed by the state. That is, the Queensland government, the NSW government, the South Australian government, etc, etc. The states generally do not finance independent and private schools, they are generally funded by parents scrimping and saving for their kids.
The federal government therefore steps in to fulfil that which is obviously a government responsibility, to assist in the funding of education services. But why does the government need to be the provider of the service if others are capable and willing of doing so? Does every lifesaver have to be a government lifesaver? Does every doctor have to be a government doctor? How would you feel if I demanded that you were only allowed to go to doctors who are employees of the government?
Let’s dispense with this myth that somehow independent schools are mechanisms to rip off public schools. They’re not, they are mechanisms for giving parents choice. In any case, it should be about the needs of the student, not the social engineering philosophies of different unions.
I went to Woolbrook Public School. We had indigenous students, we had some students who were really doing it tough. We are talking about small-village country poor. Some houses had wool packs for windows and were regularly visited by welfare agencies. I understand that those who are genuinely doing it tough need assistance. But people should also be allowed choice.
Later on my parents made the choice to send me away to boarding school. Surely it is every parents’ right to decide where their kids are educated? The government should respect that choice by not overwhelmingly financially discriminating against that choice.
We need competitive pressures in Australian education if we are to have any hope against our true competition in Taipei, Beijing, Osaka, Jakarta and other areas in our region. As people who are working in the back rooms of banks are finding out, the internet is making the world smaller and creating real competitive pressures on jobs not just between Australians but between Australians and those overseas.
Your competition does not have to live here to get your job. Excuses won’t cut it if someone who is actually on a cheaper wage can speak three languages to our one and has a more competent understanding of higher-end mathematics. We have to meet their benchmark.
In all government decisions, when we send out your money we must ask what difference it made in the outcome. Since we have borrowed the money to build school halls, to make up $16 billion of our $227 billion gross debt, are our children actually better-educated?
Maybe Canberrans understand choice better than any others because more than half of all students in Canberra go to private schools. I have always thought of Canberra as firmly pro-choice.
So Angelo Gavrielatos should just ‘fess up and be straight with us. Is $5 billion really going to make you happy or is your ultimate goal to take choice away from the Australian parents’ desire for the future of their children?
Barnaby is right.