How much money should our schools receive? How much should private schools get? What about public schools? A Federal Government review into the current system – and how it could be done better – will be made public on Monday. It’s called the Gonski Review after its independent head businessman David Gonski, AC.
Passionate public education advocate and President of the Australian Council of Educators Lyndsay Connors, tells the following story.
“A few weeks ago I was at an education dinner function here in Sydney when a man sitting next but one on my left announced that ‘this Gonski Review is a real worry’. Naturally, I was intrigued and I bent forward to catch his drift.
When asked by the chap next to him what he meant, he said that he would not like to ‘verbal’ the Gonski panel and would, therefore, quote their actual words.
He reached down into his briefcase and then brandished what I later was able to identify as the Emerging Issues Paper released by the Gonski Review late last year.
“Listen to this” he said. “This is what it says. It says that ‘equity should ensure that differences in educational outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions.
“Yes”, I said. “Is there a problem with that?”
“It’s Marxism”, he said.”
I find this anecdote particularly revealing because I have found myself being called a leftie (I can’t be all that left wing having spent 30 years in advertising, the coal face of capitalism) mostly because I am vocal in my support for and belief in the importance of public education. Quite frankly, the idea that publicly provided high quality educational opportunities for all has become a sign of communist or socialist tendencies terrifies me.
Surely, all reasonable Australians would agree that a child’s educational opportunities should not be limited by their parent’s ability to pay? After all, no child is disadvantaged through any of their own doing. They have simply been unlucky in the lottery of birth and been born into a family that is less able to navigate their way through society successfully than another child’s family. My passion for public education is based on precisely the fact that a civilized and compassionate society takes that into account and does all that it can to close the generational divisions between our children.