Posts Tagged ‘#BOFail’

Racism and Patronising Arrogance By NSW Opposition

July 7, 2009

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.

On School League Tables

July 5, 2009

Following a barrage of criticism from within the Liberal Party on their stance to abandon fundamental Liberal principles of freedom of speech, freedom of choice, competition, by voting to support the censorship of media outlets who wish to publish ‘school league tables’, the NSW Coalition has responded to its critics.

The allegedly conservative NSW Leader of the Opposition Mr. O’Farrell had this to say:

“It is not Liberal Party policy to name and shame schools…where’s the sense in comparing schools in (Sydney’s) Berowra, Bankstown and Balgowlah, let alone ones in different parts of the state, with very different socio-economic conditions?”

Nice alliteration.

NSW Shadow Education minister Adrian Piccoli stated “A ranking system that is simplistic and wrong because it does not take into account the challenges that individual schools face” and noted that “Our position is supported almost unanimously by every serious education stakeholder”

Adrian, Adrian, Adrian. Of course your position is supported by teachers unions – school league tables empower parents and lessen their grip on the system! Principles? Of course they’d support it – when people will be able to see who’s under-performing. But you forget one very important stakeholder group – the families themselves. Parents and children – the most important stakeholders of all, yet one who you completely neglect. Rather telling really.

Irrespective of the fact that this policy is an unconscionable attack on freedom of the press and a free and open soceity, it is one that is also categorically bad for children. The only way for our primary and secondary education sector to improve is through a move away from the command and control style system of governance on which it is currently based, and towards a decentralised model based on principles of competition. A model where parents can choose to send their children away from failing schools, to better ones. Schools would be forced to increase their standards or lose students to better performing schools. And the only way you can do this is by empowering parents through giving them information.

Indeed, perhaps the most insulting part of the argument put forward by the NSW Coalition is that, effectively, parents are too stupid to know what is best for their children. That they can’t be trusted to read tables (and – heaven forbid – this might make them want to send their kids to a better school! ) Such an argument is not only arrogant, patronising and insulting, but it is also factually incorrect. Research has consistently shown, however, that where parents from poor backgrounds have been empowered to make choices, the results have been very impressive (for more info see Gannicott, K. Taking Education Seriously: A Reform Program for Australia’s Schools. Centre for Independent Studies. Sydney. 1997. p98) In any case though, if indeed choice and information is denied on the ground that parents do not choose well, then the present educational system condemns itself for failing to make them good chooser, and that “without the interposition of political influence, parents would over the decades have developed judgment in seeking schooling that would best equip their  child for adulthood.”

Is it any wonder why no-one takes the NSW Opposition seriously? Why Mr. O’Farrell’s opinion ratings are so dismally low, despite everything that’s going on in NSW?  Why anyone with an IQ above single digits on all sides of the political spectrum treats the NSW Opposition as an intellectual vacuum?in

Whilst Labor will most probably lose the next election, this shall be a Labor loss, not a Liberal victory, and  I suspect we can expect the third party vote to increase significantly.

In attempting to sidle up to the radical left teachers unions, the NSW Opposition has isolated every parent and child in NSW. By putting pusillanimous petty partisan politics above principle, they have betrayed future generations growing up in NSW. What’s more though, they have seriously, seriously delivered a punch in the guts to their supporters and Liberal Party members. Perhaps Messers O’Farrell and Piccoli are unaware of this sitting in their Macquarie Street Offices, as they spend the days thinking of their time on the Treasury benches, but the Liberal Party membership in NSW – and around Australia – is fuming. They have betrayed their core supporters, and this is a self-inflicted wound they will not easily recover from. Whilst perhaps in the electricity privitisation debate there were political gains to be made in the short term, here there are none. Radical Teachers Unions types will still never vote for us, and we have isolated our support base for nothing. A friend of mine said it best: “It’s taken socialists and the like decades of failure to try and establish a left-wing alternative to labor… It’s taken the libs half a term of O’Farrell.”

This move has been condemned by John Howard, Brenden Nelson, Jane Albrechsten and every Liberal Party blogger on the planet. The Australian Liberal Students’ Federation is is tabling a motion to condemn Mr O’Farrell for voting with the Greens “to hide information from parents about the performance of their children’s schools and instituting totalitarian bans on media reporting”. I am sure it shall pass near or even unanimously.

It’s time for Mr. O’Farrell to ‘fess up, admit he stuffed up, and take a stand for true conservative beliefs.