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“Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Political blackboard war in Australian schools

Posted by Atilla89 on August 17, 2007

An interesting article from the Daily Telegraph talking about how teachers are pushing political beliefs onto their students. As a student in high school at the moment (in Australia) it is very clear to me that this is the case in some of the teachers at my school. For instance there is one who simply hates what America does, it seems as if the whole HSIE staff are anti-Howard and make no secret of it either. There are a number of rants in my Windows Live Blog that detail some of my rants against these teachers, its quite funny. Anyway, here is the article in question.

YOUNG and impressionable school students across NSW are at the centre of an ideological war over political influence in the classroom.

Despite the best efforts of the bureaucratic mandarins who run public education, a battle for the minds of 750,000 students is raging across the State.

The Teachers’ Federation is in denial over claims its members or officials are playing no role in exerting pressure on school students.

But the signs are ominous enough to prompt a serious warning to principals about the dangers of allowing politics to run rampant in schools.

Among officers of the Department of Education and Training there is real concern that public schools are in danger of becoming recruiting grounds for “partisan groups”.

In a strong memorandum sent out by the department, school heads have been told in no uncertain terms the playground is no place for opposing political views or ideologies.

Agitation against WorkChoices, promotion of indigenous rights and books showing children with same sex parents are sounding warning bells among parents, bureaucrats and politicians.

Yet to the federation members who encourage students in activities such as singing the Sorry Song about the Stolen Generation are merely “exercising their professional judgment”.

They believe they are inculcating their charges with an enriched learning experience and a true version of history – not forcing left-wing values on young minds.

Contrary to its public arguments, the all powerful teachers’ union still has a huge say in how public schools operate across the state.

Deputy president Angelo Gavrielatos claims material such as the Sorry Song “enables children to better understand, within an age-appropriate context, valuable lessons in Australian history”.

“The Sorry Song was written as an expression of one’s feeling about the Stolen Generation,” he said.

“It represents an important and legitimate perspective in Australian history.”

But the federation does not agree with critics who claim it is foisting its own brand of morality on a generation of school students.

Mr Gavrielatos makes clear the union will not be taking a backward step.

“The worst thing that could possibly happen as a result of this ongoing attack on the curriculum and the denigration of the profession is the silencing of the profession during these critical debates,” he says.

“If teachers become silent, if they exhibit self-censorship by refusing to expose children to a wide variety of views, the conservative forces will have won. This is clearly not an option.”

So the teachers, long major powerbrokers in the public school system, are refusing to take a more neutral stance.

In the run-up to the federal election expected later this year teachers also will take a partisan position against the Howard Government’s WorkChoices laws. They cannot help themselves.

According to an official: “Teachers have seen the effects of this industrial agenda on students in schools and TAFE and across the community.”

The federation commissioned a study purportedly showing how teenagers were being disadvantaged by the new industrial laws entitled, “You’re gold . . . if you’re 15 years old – the perceived impact of WorkChoices on Youth Employment and Education in NSW”.

In November last year schools were accused of using children as young as five to distribute “political propaganda” against WorkChoices.

One school principal was “counselled” by the department for breaching guidelines on political material.

This teacher politicking does not fit well with enrolment data revealed in The Daily Telegraph this week showing public schools are losing students at a rate of 125 a week – mostly to low fee, faith-based private schools.

Even Mr Gavrielatos does not dispute the figures extracted from the national census over a decade. They show parents voting with their feet as they ditch public schools.

A fightback is underway as departmental officials issue their warnings to principals about the dangers of politicising public schools.

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