I’ve ranted about this issue before. I’m vocally against the principle of private schools. So is Justice Michael Kirby. Below are some of his thoughts from his interview with Fran Kelly on Radio National this week. But first…
I know parents want to provide the best thing for their own kids. And they feel that private schools provide a better start in life.
But two issues.
1. I don’t know that fancy pools and excursions to Tuscany make for a better education. When I got to uni I was surrounded by private school kids…I was one of a few public school kids studying law at ANU (I don’t think this is to do with grades alone…more that I think law is pushed more as a career at private schools…which ain’t necessarily a good thing). I remember being astounded by how much hand-holding my peers required to keep up with the course load. This is a generalisation that might offend. So let’s put it this way – I reckon the “self-led” approach required to get ahead in public schools sets a kid up well for life beyond school. In all kinds of ways. Not least of all that it instills awareness of a fuller spectrum of the human experience.
2. The “my kid deserves the best” attitude perpetuates the growing divide in schooling quality between public and private. While ever good, engaged, smart parents send their kids to private schools, it drains resources from public schools.
My beliefs are these:
* The two hallmarks of a just society are the same (high) standard of education and health for all. What chance does a kid have if these things aren’t accessible to them? With a decent education a kid that comes from nowhere has choices.
* Good, engaged, smart parents have an obligation to all kids, not just their own.