2007-10-02

A Prediction

I wrote this prediction at the Sydney Anglicans forum discussing Christian Schools:
At some point in the future there will be a 60 Minutes or Four Corners report into the abuses that go on in many Christian schools, along with a parliamentary inquiry into whether the Federal Government should fund such schools and whether a formal investigation should take place. The public outcry will be great and Christian schools will get a bad name. The solution is not to cover it up but address the problem head on.

...

The creation of a Christian Teacher’s Union would be a step in the right direction.

11 comments:

BLBeamer said...

Does your Federal government fund such schools?

One Salient Oversight said...

Yes.

In Australia the school education system is run by the states (As you know, in the US it is the counties. That is one difference between our two nations).

So the states run and fund the public school system. They also have standard curriculum that applies for every single school in that state.

The Federal government has, for at least 20 years, given subsidies to private schools. As a result of this, all fee paying schools have a Federal government subsidy that allows them to keep tuition costs down.

Since the early 1990s, Christian schools have been able to apply for federal government grants and subsidies. The result has been an explosion of low-cost fee-paying Christian schools around Australia.

Christian schools still have to teach the State government curriculum, however. So a Christian school in New South Wales will offer the same Higher School Certificate that is being taught in the public school down the road. The Christian School in Victoria will teach the same VCE as the state school down the road from it.

As far as I can tell, the only other curriculum that Australian private schools can offer is the International Baccalaureate. No private school that I know of can offer an alternative curriculum.

The Feds can't tell the private schools what to teach, and the States can't tell the Feds to stop spending money on private schools. So the situation is essentially a State/Federal government mashup whereby private schools (including Christian schools) have to meet State government rules in order to be accredited to teach State government curriculum, while at the same time meet certain Federal rules in order to receive funding. A private/Christian school that is rejected by the State government is also rejected by the Feds. However a school that is rejected by the Feds can still be accepted by the State (though their tuition fees would price them out of existence).

There is, of course, the problem of whether or not the government is involving itself in organised religion and whether Federal funding of Christian schools goes against the whole ethos of keeping Religion and government separate.

This is avoided mainly through the fact that schools run by other religions receive the same sort of subsidies. Since the early 1990s, Islamic private schools and Eastern Orthodox private schools have also grown because their fees are subsidised by the feds.

Catholic schools are, paradoxically, funded both by the Catholic church and by State governments. This goes back to events in 19th century Australia that I won't get into. I have taught in a few Catholic schools (I even got to tell the gospel to some classes) and they are quite liberal in their theology. Most of the kids and half the teachers don't even go to church.

One Salient Oversight said...

BTW - Universities are run by the Federal government. We have virtually no private universities in Australia and no Christian unviersities or colleges (ones that offer non-theological degrees that is. Seminaries here in Oz offer the standard M.Div)

BLBeamer said...

That is interesting. Thanks for the info. In our state, and I believe most other states, the schools are under local control called districts which are independent of and smaller than counties.

A majority of funding for a district's schools come from property owners in the districts, with a significant portion of funding from the state tax revenues.

Private schools, religious or otherwise, receive no government funding. In many states (mine included) there is a significant and growing home school movement. The laws in my state for home schools are quite progressive. Each homeschooled child has the right to make use of resources or facilities of public schools in their district.

Of course, we have a significant number of private universities, both religious and otherwise, and nearly without exception all of them receive at least indirect federal subsidies. Congress has passed laws which say that colleges that enroll students who receive federal aid are essentially receiving federal aid themselves. I know of only three colleges in the US which will not accept students who receive federal aid: Grove City College (Presbyterian), Bob Jones University (very conservative Baptist) and Hillsdale College (secular).

Is homeschooling allowed in Australia?

One Salient Oversight said...

Yeah homeschooling is allowed here but it is not as well developed in the States. Much of the homeschooling ethos and way of doing this has been "imported" from the US but it has yet to make any significant impact.

BLBeamer said...

I would guess that if the Australian schools are able to maintain education standards and produce edcuated children, then the homeschooling movement won't gain much traction there.

While I'm not discounting the religion element, most of the homeschoolers I have spoken to chose homeschooling because they were displeased with the quality of education offered by the public schools. Plus, they were not able to afford tuition for private schooling.

We were among the displeased, but my wife's health precluded us from being able to homeschool.

One Salient Oversight said...

I have a wife with some bad health too. She has had epilepsy since the age of 12. It was controlled up until the age of 28 when suddenly she began to get major seizures. She couldn't drive as a result. After about 4 years she was put on a drug that has worked wonders and can now drive again.

I'd thought I'd tell you first since I'm interested in the situation with your wife.

Actually Beamer, you should get yourself your own blog.

BLBeamer said...

I am sorry to hear of your wife's illness. But thank God she has found a medication that works. Good health is a blessing.

My wife's health was nearly broken by an allergic reaction to penicillin. I don't recall the medical term, but she developed the sensitivity after many years of taking penicillin (augmentin, actually) with no ill effects.

Suddenly, after taking a prescription for 10 days she developed acute urticaria. It took days for the doctors to get control of the urticaria, finally requiring very high doses of steroids for months. The doctors were also unable to determine the cause of the urticaria because she had been taking several medications and the urticaria did not appear until some days after she had stopped taking her meds. She had also been exposed to some other substances which commonly cause allergic reactions.

A couple years later, she was once again given augmentin. This time the urticaria were worse than previously. Fortunately, the doctors identified immediately the cause, but the reaction was so strong her kidneys were damaged. Once again, she required months of high doses of steroids.

While she was suffering from this malady, she also underwent knee, shoulder and sinus surgery and endured the loss of her mother and my parents (she was quite close to my mother as well as her own).

Fast forward: I am happy to say that she is in good health again (kidney damage apparently permanent, but not life threatening at this time). It has been several years without surgery and the other day even talked about returning to work this spring.

I thank the Lord for His goodness.

BLBeamer said...

I forgot to mention we almost lost her during her first reaction: she went into anaphylaxis but epinephrine had little effect.

Actually Beamer, you should get yourself your own blog.

Neil, I don't know how to take this. Have I made a nuisance of myself here? Not my intention at all. Sorry if I did.

One Salient Oversight said...

Neil, I don't know how to take this. Have I made a nuisance of myself here? Not my intention at all. Sorry if I did.

No no! Nothing like that at all. It's just my experience that people who make reasonably intelligent comments on other people's blogs are usually able to run their own blog site and write their own articles.

What I'm saying is simple - you should start your own blog because you've got something to say. Keep making as many comments as you like here at my blogsite - but seriously consider starting your own blog as well.

BLBeamer said...

Thanks, Neil. I think you're reasonably intelligent, too.

All kidding aside, thanks for the clarification and nice words. I've considered starting my own blog, but I have enough self-awareness to know that if I did it the way that would satisfy me, I'd have to quit my job and live on nothing but coffee and cigarettes 24/7.

My wife has advised me that there are other drawbacks to having my own blog, but it is not necessary for me to go into what those are.