Education

The Catholic School System

The Editor’s stated view (The Mercury, June 2) that “The success of the Tasmanian Catholic school system has important lessons for the Government school sector” is limited in that there are lesson that everyone needs to heed, including our governments. Public schools are in danger of losing their ‘natural mix’ and the federal government’s long term strategy of achieving a user-pays education system is progressing remarkably well. Its fear campaign piloted by a continual attack on public education and its teachers and funding policies that are disgracefully skewed away from the public sector are I suggest making many parents afraid for their children. If this continues there is a danger that public education will become a residual system and the last decade of federal policy will be considered the chief cause. Sadly, it seems, nobody wants to fight for public education anymore. After normal indexation is accounted for, an additional $400 million of the $31 billion federal allocation is being delivered to schools over the 2005 – 2008 quadrennium. Of this increase $396 million is going to the private system and $4 million to public schools. During the previous 2001-2004 quadrennium fifty of the wealthiest schools received increases of more than $1 million and several independent schools received individually an additional $3 million to $4 million over four years. The federal Labor party, for reasons that can only be known to them, recently reversed a policy commitment to review the funding model that led to these increases if it wins the next election. In demonstrating its total lack of social conscience the latest Liberal government budget not only maintains the funding differentiation but gives a 30% increase over the next five years to private schools compared to 10% to government schools. The Editor is however right in all that he says, but other factors are at play. No matter what schooling option is taken, every parent should have the option to send their child to a local, high quality public school, sufficiently resourced to meet the needs of its community.