Greens Party intent on destroying non-government schools
24th July 2011

The Australian ultra-left Greens Party has assumed balance of power in the Commonwealth Senate and the ALP Government is increasingly relying on the Greens for its political survival.  Connor Court Publishing has just released a book analysing Greens' policy and I have written a chapter arguing that the Greens are intent on destroying Catholic and independent schools.

Below is a revised copy of the chapter published on The Punch:

Last week’s decision by the Independent Education Union of Australia to split from the Australian Council of Trade Unions because the ACTU supports the Green’s stance against non-government schools is the correct one.

On reading the Greens’ education policy document, there is no doubt that Catholic and independent schools are in the firing line.  While the Liberal-National Coalition is committed to properly funding such schools and respects their right to manage themselves, the Greens are dedicated to cutting funding and destroying the autonomy such schools currently enjoy.

Given that the Gillard-led government is beholden to the Greens for its continued survival, and the equivocal nature of its commitment to properly funding non-government schools, then there is every chance that those opposed to Catholic and independent schools will get their way.

Australia’s tripartite system of education, where government, Catholic and independent schools co-exist and all students are entitled to proper funding and an education best suited to their needs and abilities, is anathema to the Greens Party and school choice is something the ultra-left party wishes to destroy.

Point 19 of the Australian Greens’ Education policy states, when it comes to funding, that priority must be given to public schools.  Ignored is that every student, regardless of school attended, deserves a well-resourced education and that all parents are taxpayers.  Also ignored is the right parents have not to be discriminated against or penalised because they choose one type of school over another.

The Greens also conveniently ignore the fact that state and federal funding is already heavily weighted in favour of government schools.  As noted by the 2010 Report on Government Services, published by the Productivity Commission, government school students, on average, receive $12,639 while non-government students only receive $6,606.

Contrary to what the Greens argue, as noted in a briefing paper prepared by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, Australian Government funding for schools explained, the reality is that the existing socioeconomic status (SES) funding model is already, “based on a measure of need”.

Wealthier non-government schools only receive 13.5 per cent of the cost to government of educating a state school student (what is known as the Average Government School Recurrent Costs or AGSRC).  Melbourne’s Scotch College, for example, only receives approximately $2,500 from state and federal governments, while the Methodist Ladies College in Kew receives approximately $3,000.

Instead of accepting that non-government schools like Scotch College and MLC are entitled to at least some government funding the Greens, mirroring the old, bitter politics of class envy and sectarian divide, argue that funding to what it describes as the “wealthiest private schools” must end (see point 64).

It’s not only the Greens at the federal level who are opposed to funding so-called privileged private schools.  The NSW Greens Upper House member, John Kaye, stated before the recent NSW election, “We think that the funding of the very wealthy schools like Kings and SCEGGS has to come to an end”.

The Greens’ policy also argues that what it describes as the “excessive increases in Commonwealth funding to non-government schools in recent years” must be reversed and that the total level of Commonwealth funding to such schools be frozen at 2003-04 levels.

Instead of being the recipient of “excessive increases”, as noted by Australia’s Productivity Commission, over the years 2004-04 to 2008-09 state and federal government funding to non-government schools decreased in real terms by 1.6 per cent while government schools benefitted from an increase of 1.2 per cent.

Currently, under the existing SES funding model, non-government schools are not financially penalised by having their level of government funding reduced to take into account funds raised locally, such as school fees. The belief is that private investment should be encouraged and schools should be able to raise income locally without penalty.

It’s here, once again, that the Greens Party reveals its left-wing, ideological approach to school funding.  By arguing that that any new funding model must take into account, “the resource levels of non-government schools and their financial capacity, including fees and other parent contributions” the intention is cut government funding to such schools and to increase the financial burden faced by parents.

Surveys show that one of the reasons parents choose non-government schools is because, overwhelmingly, such schools are religious in nature.  Catholic schools, which make up the lion’s share of the non-government sector, for example, are dedicated to providing a Christian education based on the teachings of the Church.

Instead of respecting the right of faith-based schools to operate according to religious beliefs, especially in areas like staffing and enrolments, the Greens argue that such schools must accept its polices in areas like sexuality and gender identity.  Point 63 of its policy states that non-government schools must not be allowed to “discriminate in hiring of staff or selection of students”.

Such a policy not only flies in the face of international and local human rights agreements and conventions protecting religious freedom and the right of parents to educate their children according to their beliefs, it also represents yet another example of government intrusion and centralised control over schools.

On reading the policy titled ‘Sexuality and Gender Identity’ it is also clear that the Greens Party, in addition to forcing schools to employ staff whose way of life and beliefs contradict the Church’s teachings, is keen to use the school curriculum to promulgate its policies.

In relation to “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people” the policy argues that governments have the right to legislate to enforce what is described as, “acceptance and celebration of diversity” (point 2 of the Sexuality and Gender Identity policy).

When it comes to the curriculum, the policy states that the Australian Greens, “want the education system to provide age-appropriate information about the diversity of sexuality” (Point 10 and code for promoting and embracing what the majority of faith-based schools would describe as unacceptable lifestyles).

Given that all Australian schools, under the banner of the ALP’s education revolution, will be made to teach a national curriculum after 2012, it should not surprise if the Greens pressure the Gillard Government to incorporate a positive view of LGBTI lifestyles in the new curriculum.

The above is a revised chapter taken from The Greens: Policies, Reality and Consequences (edited by Andrew McIntyre, published by Connor Court Publishing and available from 14 July).



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Greens Party intent on destroying non-government schools
24th July 2011
The Australian ultra-left Greens Party has assumed balance of power in the Commonwealth Senate and the ALP Government is increasingly relying on the Greens for its political survival.  Connor...

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