Justice Michael Kirby, you’re my hero!
Posted by Lisa Hill on December 2, 2009
I hope the ABC doesn’t mind me quoting from their report about what Justice Michael Kirby had to say about the inequitable funding of government schools, because I’m fed up too. I am more than fed up with the lack of funding for kids who need extra help, money for which is smeared as money for teachers to feather their nests and slack off. I’m really angry about the shortage of teachers because teaching is a profession nobody wants to do any more because it’s so badly paid and the conditions are so awful. I’m even more angry that we are importing rubbish ideas like payment by results and league tables from America when the US, the richest nation in the world, has an education system that has failed its poorest citizens and has appalling literacy rates. Why on earth would we want to copy anything they do? And why is it that it’s government schools that have to submit to this stupidity, eh?
” Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby says he is fed up with government neglect of public schools, especially while private schools get extra public money. In a speech at Melbourne High last night, Justice Kirby said Australians educated in state high schools should stick up for public education and urge the government to provide more funding. “The schools where 63 per cent of Australians are educated deserve better, and the time has come for all citizens to make it clear that they demand an end to the under-funding of public education, where the future of our nation will chiefly be written,” he said.
Justice Kirby pointed out that during his 13 years on the High Court bench, he was for the most part the only judge to have been educated entirely in public schools. “One out of seven. This is curious, there is a puzzle here, but also a challenge,” he said. And he took a swipe at politicians and the media who criticise public schools.
“I’m fed up with the suggestion that public schools neglect education in values,” he said.
“I’m fed up when I go to wealthy private schools with substantial supplementary funding and see the neglect of the facilities of famous public high schools. “
A principal of a fine private school said to me recently that in most other countries, the high school of the former prime minister would be celebrated and it would be well endowed. “I hope that this attrition will end, and end soon. It is unjust and it’s certainly undeserved, as the record of public school achievements demonstrates.”
Justice Kirby highlighted the achievements of Australian Nobel laureates who had attended public schools, including this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, Elizabeth Blackburn. And he urged those educated in public schools to speak up for the majority of Australian students. “It constantly amazes me that leaders of government in Australia who have themselves benefited from public education go along with inequity in the distribution of public funds for schooling,” he said. “Parents and citizens in public schools have to learn the art of advocacy. They’ve got to blog, Twitter, text, lobby and argue. ‘Be sure that the lobbyists for private and religious schools are highly skilled and well organised. For the children of the nation’s public schools, this lack of balance has to stop.”
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