Mem Fox misguided not magical in attack on non-government schools
Children’s author Mem Fox used a recent address at the National Press Club to launch a misguided and ill-informed attack on the existence and funding of non-government schools.
In a recent report from The Canberra Times (30 May 2015) Ms Fox was quoted as saying “The federal government spends two-thirds of its school education dollars on the one-third of students in Australia who go to private schools – where is our national sense of shame at that statistic?".
Ms Fox then went on to attack parents who send their children to non-government schools stating “I'm worn out by the argument that people have a right to choose where their children are educated".
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said that in attacking the non-government sector on this basis, Ms Fox had clearly failed to research the actual funding structures in place nor understood the important role non-government schools play in ensuring all Australian children have access to their fundamental right of an education.
“Ms Fox is clearly unaware that under the new federal funding, which are based on the Schooling Resource Standard, the Average Government School Recurrent Cost (AGSRC) no longer applies. This means federal funding to non-government schools is no longer on the basis of a proportion of the costs of running a state school. Rather, each school receives a set amount per student regardless of sector,” Mr Burke said.
“Secondly, non-government schools provide a critical role in ensuring all Australian children have access to a quality education, especially where government services are unavailable.
“For children in remote and regional areas, non-government schools are often their only avenue for accessing their right to an education.
“Indigenous boarding schools are a particular case in point. These non-government schools are the only way children in remote communities have access to an education and this is a direct result of federal government policies which rely on the existence of these schools to ensure its fundamental obligations to these students are met.
“Ms Fox’s ignorance of the realities and complexities of the structure of the Australian education system is astounding and a sad indictment on someone who has not only worked as a teacher but who is beloved by students across the country,” he said.