Old right-wing culture-warrior Kevin Donnelly is at it again in the Punch whinging about a party committed to the public education system:

Green with class envy and bent on change

Ah – “class envy”. The classic defence of privilege: your criticisms of the privilege I enjoy just come from envy! You envy me my unearned privilege!

To which you’d think the response would be – yes, and so would you if the positions were reversed.


A privilege I certainly didn’t earn, and nor did the vast majority of other private-school students

(Of course, if the criticism comes from someone equally privileged, then their concerns can be dismissed as “guilt” and the critic dismissed as an “elite”. I’ve never figured out how someone can be both an “elite” and consumed by “envy”, but it’s polemic, not logic.)

Anyway, here’s the nub of Kevin’s objection, delightfully phrased so that opposing discrimination sounds like discrimination and demanding well-resourced education sounds like denying it:

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.

Obviously Kevin is aware that the criticism is that having a two (or three) tier education system means that some kids do not receive a well-resourced education. That children are discriminated against depending on whether their parents can or will pay money to send them to a private school. Like everyone who supports this discrimination against children, Kevin pretends that it’s about “parental choice”, rather than the right of all children to have a “well-resourced education” – where, in Kevin’s actual words, “all students are entitled to proper funding and an education best suited to their needs and abilities”.

Of course, we all know that the reason why we have private schools is to give some kids a leg-up in the competitive educational and post-school environments, through no merit of their own, against those who do not have those opportunities. When Kevin talks about “proper funding” he means the ability of private schools to provide a more expensive education for lucky kids. When he says “an education best suited to their needs and abilities” he means “for kids whose parents have the means”.

Beyond passing on privilege to their kids, there is of course one other reason parents say they send their kids to non-government schools: “values”. They want to have their kids indoctrinated not with neutral, community-standard non-discriminatory values. They want their kids indoctrinated with their religion at school, in the same venue where they are taught maths and English. They don’t want religious teaching to be kept outside school, as something quite separate from formal education: they want it all mixed together.

Kevin complains:

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.

My religious freedom depends on schools being able to sack gay teachers! (Or, in fact, given what the religious lobby demanded and received from the Baillieu government in Victoria – it depends on schools being able to sack the gay GARDENER.) My freedom depends on an employer’s ability to sack staff for what they might do in their private lives.

I have defined “my freedom” in such a way as you may have none.

And I demand the right to let my children grow up in a bubble where I can teach them to fear and hate gay people without being confronted with any actual gay people to stand as obvious contradictions of my baseless prejudice!

Tell me again why we should be happy with an education system that discriminates against poor children, and against those with religious parents determined to indoctrinate them. Kevin has nothing except the assertion that these are required for his “freedom”.

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