Monday, 23 March 2015

Education and your vote (2015 Term 1 Week 9)

It is with some trepidation that I am touching on the NSW State election in this article. Our school does not endorse any political party or candidate, nor do we think that it is our prerogative to tell our community how they ought to vote. Nonetheless, recognising that there are a wide range of factors that each of us consider in exercising our democratic rights, it may be helpful for me to briefly summarise the positions of the major parties regarding education generally and Inaburra specifically. I note in doing so that school education is not a major campaign issue in this election.

Of the major parties, the Greens are noteworthy for their open opposition to non-government schools. In their education policy the NSW Greens are committed to working to the abolition of all state funding for non-government schools. In the event that state funding continues, the Greens believe that:
  • all public funding of the wealthiest private schools should be abolished and the public funds that are given to these schools under current arrangements should be committed instead to equity programs within the public school system.
  • private schools and non-government school systems that receive public funding should be subject to the same level of public accountability and scrutiny as applies to public schools, with this being a condition of ongoing public funding. 
  • non-government schools funding mechanisms that unfairly act to the detriment of public education should be abolished. 
  • No public funding should be provided to schools that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religious background, sexual preference, marital status, disability, or ability to pay fees. The Greens NSW also believe that public funding should not be allocated to private schools that engage in discrimination in employment practices. We are committed to removing all exemptions for private schools from the Anti-discrimination Act. 
  • capital works should be funded only in government schools.

All of which is to say that a significant electoral result for the Greens is not a desirable result from the point of view of independent schools such as Inaburra. As we have seen at various levels of government in recent years, once a minor party or independent member has a seat at the table, opportunities can arise to dictate substantial agendas as a condition of their support for government legislation.

The commitments made by the Coalition with reference to school education can be found on the Association of Independent Schools website.

At the time of writing, the Labor Party has not released policy statements that have a significant bearing on school education or independent schools.

From time to time I am reminded of Churchill's quote "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." For all its flaws and frustrations, it is worth pausing to be thankful that governments change or are maintained in our country by the stroke of a pen in the ballot box and not by firearms. There is a case to be made that that structures underlying our government, such as the separation of powers, mandatory elections and the rule of law, recognise the fallen nature of humanity and our universal need to have our power restrained.

The Scriptures urge us to pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:1-2); as the election approaches, can I urge you to do so, remembering both those who will represent us in the parliament and their staff, as well as those who will be disappointed when their campaign is unsuccessful.

As a side note, the Performing Arts Centre at Inaburra School will be a polling place for this election. 

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