Examples of Australia’s slide towards being a stupid country
on one of the ABC quizzes the other night “Which major western nation was founded in 1778”. The listener (middle aged souniding with Australian accent) wanted a clue, and was told ‘major’ is the clue. She then said history wasn’t her strong point (why the hell do people like that ring up a quiz) and then proceeded to say “oh, Australia”.
A few callers earlier another of those quiz-nitwits phoned: A young woman who was asked a question about a country in Europe. She said ‘geography wasn’t her strong point’ and she didn’t really know much about Europe and asked the announcer is Italy was a country in Europe.
Private schools hard done by, says Abbott
21 Augustg 2012
OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has provoked a storm of controversy and contradicted the findings of the Gonski review into school funding by suggesting that state schools receive too large a share of education spending.
Labor and the Coalition yesterday used an independent education forum to talk up their private-school credentials in the lead-up to the federal government’s long-awaited overhaul of school funding.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised every independent school in the nation would receive an increase in funding, and defended big private schools as ”a great example”.
Mr Abbott went further, implying that private schools were being treated unjustly by receiving a smaller proportion of funding than state schools.
”Overall, the 66 per cent of Australian school students who attend public schools get 79 per cent of government funding. The 34 per cent of Australians who attend independent schools get just 21 per cent of government funding,” Mr Abbott told the forum.
”So there is no question of injustice to public schools here. If anything, the injustice is the other way.”
This contradicts the review led by businessman David Gonski, which recommended an annual $5 billion increase in funding to all schools, but with an emphasis on increased funding to state schools because they have a higher proportion of disadvantaged students.
The review found that more than 80 per cent of students who could not ”participate in society” because they were so far behind in reading and mathematics were in state schools: ”The concentration of this problem in government schools is evidence of the need for a greater increase in resources in those schools in particular.”
Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said Mr Abbott’s comments betrayed an ignorance of the Gonski review and proved he would be the ”private school prime minister”.
Trevor Cobbold, of the public education lobby group Save Our Schools, said Mr Abbott showed a ”callous disregard” for the large proportion of disadvantaged students who were not receiving an adequate education.
”It’s a disgrace. Low-income students are on average two to three years behind their high-income peers. If we are going to do anything about the massive achievement gaps in this country, government schools need to receive the bulk of any funding increases,” he said.
But Mr Abbott said the whole Gonski process was in part generated by the idea that the government somehow neglected state schools, and the risk was that funding for private schools might be cut.
Ms Gillard seized on his comments, claiming in Parliament that every state school in the country was ”on the opposition hit-list”.
In the ensuing argument, Mr Abbott was thrown out of Parliament by Deputy Speaker Anna Burke, making him the first opposition leader ejected since John Howard in 1986.
Mr Abbott had been asked to withdraw a remark that was inaudible in the public gallery. ”I withdraw, but it’s still an untrue statement,” he replied.
”You could not help yourself,” said Ms Burke, telling him to leave for an hour.
He returned to declare that he had no intention of cutting funding to state schools. His office said any such suggestion was ”just another lie”.
Earlier, Ms Gillard moved at the independent education forum to dispel any lingering notions of class envy from the days of former leader Mark Latham’s private school ”hit-list”.
”I’ve never looked at a big independent school in an established suburb and thought ‘That’s not fair, ”’ she said. ”I look at a big independent school in an established suburb and think ”That’s a great example.”’
Melbourne University professor Richard Teese said the Prime Minister’s speech represented a betrayal of Labor’s position on public education. ”It’s completely a reversal of its historic position,” he said. ”It’s gradually acclimatised itself to a close position with private schools, despite the inequities that creates.
”There are big lobby groups and they have a lot of political clout and the government is being forced to pay a price for what it sees as fundamental reforms.”
But Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said parents would be happy to hear that both leaders supported them. ”Many of our parents feel they are not very well supported, when they do put their own money into their child’s education.”
Harry Potter banned by Christian school
Medowie Christian School has defended a decision to ban witches and warlocks from its annual book week parade and the Harry Potter series from the school library.
The school was one of many in the Hunter Valley that marked Book Week this week by asking children to dress up as their favourite book character for a parade.
Frankly, we do not want any of our younger students or their siblings feeling frightened, intimidated or uncomfortable during any school activities.
Principal Samantha Van de Mortel asked parents not to send children to school on Wednesday as witches and warlocks because it was inconsistent with school values.
She said it was a standing policy because the school felt it was not in line with its Christian ethos.
“We just don’t believe that’s something we want to promote. We promote a Christian focus,” Ms Van de Mortel said.
She said the parade was a primary school event that was also open to students’ younger siblings and they were concerned many retail costumes were quite gruesome.
“Frankly, we do not want any of our younger students or their siblings feeling frightened, intimidated or uncomfortable during any school activities,” she said.
While witches, warlocks and Harry Potter characters were out at the Medowie school, the characters allowed in the parade included Anakin Skywalker, The Mad Hatter and the Gingerbread Man.
Ms Van de Mortel said the Harry Potter series, which is about witches and wizards, was not available in the school library because it had been the subject of many international debates.
It topped the list as the 10 Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century by the American Library Association.
“Medowie Christian School respects the right of parents to make decisions on whether or not to allow/encourage their child to read material,” Ms Van de Mortel said.
“In respecting that right [we] do not stock books from the Harry Potter Series, or indeed other titles, which are the subject of polarising public discussion.”
Medowie mother Bobbie Antonic, whose children do not attend the school, raised the issue on social networking site Twitter and said she was concerned it was censorship.
“I was just blown away by it. It’s just bizarre,” she said.
“Books are not reality.”
Medowie Christian School Parents and Friends Association manager Lisa Taylor said from a parent’s point of view the prohibition was “no big deal”.
“In the lead up to Halloween the shops are full of so many grotesque, frightening costumes and I’ve got two little boys,” she said. “It’s supposed to be a celebration of literature.”
She said parents were happy the school library did not send students home with books that could force a topic up for discussion.
“I would like to be able to make that choice for my own kids,” Ms Taylor said
and this one, when Harry Potter was banned by a Christian School in 2001:
Aust school bans Harry Potter
The World Today Archive – Friday, 23 November , 2001 00:00:00
Reporter: Luisa Saccotelli
COMPERE: As the publicity and marketing machine for the release of the first Harry Potter movie ramps up, it is being claimed that Harry Potter books may be encouraging a worldwide reading resurgence. But one independent Australian school has decided to ban JK Rowling’s famous books about the fictitious young wizard.
In Melbourne the Nunawading Adventist College has refused to allow the books on its library shelves and has banned pupils in the junior school from actually bringing their own personal copies into the school. Luisa Saccotelli in Melbourne reports that the school has been holding Parents Information Night, describing the books as “tools of the devil”.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: What’s wrong with Harry Potter? The Nunawading Seventh Day Adventist College and Primary School fears plenty. Why does Harry have a lightning bolt on his forehead? – the school asks in a flyer to parents. Do they really teach witchcraft?
[EXTRACT FROM HARRY POTTER MOVIE]: Understand this Harry this is very important. Not all wizards are good.
I’m going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to getting killed. Or worse, expelled!
LUISA SACCOTELLI: A school newsletter urges parents to be informed about this tool of the devil.
[EXTRACT FROM HARRY POTTER MOVIE]: And the word of two 13-year-old wizards will not convince anybody. A street full of eyewitnesses swore they saw Sirius murder Pettigrew.
PARENT, ROBERT: Their stance against his sort of material I think is fairly narrow-minded and I think it’s trying to enforce an attitude amongst the students and families that they shouldn’t do anything other than what aligns itself with the strict church doctrine.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: Robert is the father of two daughters at the Nunawading Adventist College. He doesn’t support the Potter books ban.
ROBERT: It’s part of the general school policy because the school is part of the Seventh Day Adventist Church system, that they actively discourage any involvement in anything that doesn’t align itself with t he church doctrine.
[EXTRACT FROM HARRY POTTER MOVIE]: Quick. Where are we going to go? Where are we going to hide? The Dementors will be coming any moment.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: The school’s chaplain, Sue Beament, says her concerns about the Potter books are biblically based.
SUE BEAMENT: Probably our biggest concern would be that they are based on witchcraft and wicker. These themes and all the symbols that are used are actually – really are actual witchcraft themes. Even Harry Potter’s name. Potter is the name of the Mother-God in witchcraft.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: the school also fears kids will be drawn into the occult.
SUE BEAMENT: There’s going to be some kids who are drawn in to the darker side of occult and if you don’t believe that witchcraft and occult really do exist, you only need to go up and ask around the Dandenongs and a few other places to discover that this is a darker side of life and one that I would not be happy to see my children dabble in.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: How do you think Harry Potter would draw them towards that though?
SUE BEAMENT: Because all of the – Rowling is the author – is a very highly intelligent lady and she has used the symbols and knowledge of witchcraft. I’m not saying she’s a witch. I never – that I’d like struck out of this interview.
[EXTRACT FROM HARRY POTTER MOVIE]: It took a few seconds for the absurdity of this statement to sink in. Then Ron voiced what Harry was thinking.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: Robert, whose children attend the school is upset they’re being made to feel they’ve done something wrong in reading the Potter books.
ROBERT: It’s written in the vein of fantasy and fairytale. One of my children is an Enid Blyton fan and look to take anything like that literally would be preposterous as well.