The NSW Opposition’s stance on school league tables has become more than a national joke. Jokes we can at least forgive. More dangerously, it has become a national disgrace for the NSW Division of the Liberal Party.
The NSW Opposition is formally at odds with not only the Federal Parliamentary Wing of the Liberal Party, but also the Liberal party in EVERY STATE IN AUSTRALIA. To make matters worse, they are at odds with the standing policy of both the NSW Young Liberals, and the Federal Young Liberals. Yesterday, the position of the NSW Opposition was unanimously condemned by the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation (and believe me, it isn’t easy to get over a hundred Liberal Students from universities all over Australia to agree unanimously on a motion!)
The position for allowing school league tables is straightforward. The give parents information, allow them to make informed choices, and put pressure on underperforming schools to improve. In sidling up to the self-preservation agenda of the radical and extreme-left NSW Teachers Federation (and I should know about NSW Teacher Federation Activities – my mother has been a member for the last several decades) they have betrayed parents without a doubt. As was noted in yesterday’s Australian, “Banning the publication of league tables ranking schools does not protect students – it protects teachers, schools and governments who allow almost one in 10 teenagers to leave school illiterate”. In fact, even if you disagree with the concept, to go from that to demanding media censorship on the issue, as the NSW Opposition has done, is a pure and simple disgrace.
What concerns me even more, however, is a more recent justification given by the NSW Opposition for their disgraceful position. One based on the fact that “you can’t compare different areas for different reasons”. Because it is clear that if you analyse this, they have gone beyond mere political pragmaticism, and have engaged in socioeconomic arrogance and naked racism. In a manner that can only be described as morally repulsive.
I refer to an interview by NSW Shadow Education Minister Adrian Piccoli on Alan Jones yesterday. In this interview, Mr. Piccoli made two statements, loud and clear. There could be no disputing the message. Firstly, we shouldn’t expect students in lower socioeconomic areas to do as well in students in Vacluse, and secondly, that we shouldn’t expect migrants to do as well as Australian students. Both these statements are an utter disgrace.
Firstly, WHY should we expect students in differing socio-economic areas to achieve different results? Why is it accepted as a matter of dogma that if you live in a poorer area, your test results should be lower? Why is it an accepted norm that students living in less wealthy areas should perform worse that people living in “Vacluse” (I use Vacluse as it was specifically cited by Mr. Piccoli). If this is indeed the case, doesn’t it show something fundamentally wrong with our education system? That we are failing an entire generation of Australians? And rather than covering up the results, shouldn’t we try to address it?
What is even more sickening, however, is the comment that you can’t compare two schools “When you know there are a lot of kids from non English speaking backgrounds…” in one. I am not one to generally harp on about issues of race, but this is racism pure and simply. There is NO reason whatsoever that NESB students should perform worst than native Australians. NONE. Educational statistics do not support such a claim. Mr. Piccoli is relying on racist assumptions to make his case. This is racism pure and simple.
I was raised in a household where English was almost never spoken. When I entered Kindergarten, I knew few words of English. In primary school, I attended ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. And I’ll be DAMNED if anyone DARES suggest I performed any worse because of it. I find such comments grossly offensive, vile, and despicable, and Mr. Piccoli owes an apology to everyone from non-English speaking backgrounds. It is my firm belief that if Mr. Piccoli does not apologies for this outrageous insinuation, then he should resign.
One more thing though, where are the ‘alleged’ right wingers in the NSW Liberal Party through all of this? Where are the people who constantly harking on in the party about ‘conservative values’. In fact, speaking to Coalition staffers earlier today, these alleged conservatives and Hooray Henrys are the ones complaining about how “the party doesn’t understand what the parliamentary wing is doing”! They are the ones defending and promoting this policy! Not one – NOT ONE – allegedly conservative NSW MP has stood up for principles and truth in this matter. How anyone can can take these (insert) seriously is beyond me.
If any Coalition MP wishes to publically state their opposition to this policy, please email me and I will issue a correction and apology. In fact, I issue a call to you all – speak now, publically, or forever be deemed as a sell out.
As I said previously, the Liberal Party membership is fuming. Crossing all factional lines, crossing all divisions, our members are up in arms. Unless something is changed, the real Liberal Party supporters, the truly passionate ones, will just sit out in 2011. Many seats will be lost because of it, and none of us want this to happen.
For the sake of the Liberal Party, and the future of NSW, I beg the NSW Coalition: please reverse this disastrous policy. There is no other course of action for you.