Let’s mind the Ps and Qs of education

You can tell we are in election mode in my State, with all sorts of ‘them’ and ‘us’ positioning between political parties.  The old chestnut of private school vs public school has reared its predictable but ignorant argument, yet again.

Private schools do not deserve a cent from our public funds Twittered my local Labor candidate for the forthcoming March State election. I wonder if he thought to survey how many Labor voter parents agree with him on this issue?

Is this pronouncement based on what is best for the balance sheet, or what is best for a particular child? If it is the former, I hope he doesn’t get within cooey http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Cooey  of any public office that can impact on our State’s  education policy.

We don’t make our children all wear the same brand of clothes, we don’t insist that they all have the same number of parents or siblings in their family units, we don’t insist that they all play the same musical instrument, or play the same sport. We encourage our children to be individuals and have choices. It is one of the first benefits they learn of living in a democracy. So why is this Labor candidate insisting that his party should penalise ‘choice’ in education… if people want their choice of private education in this candidate’s world they will  have to pay twice … first through the school fees, and then again through no government subsidy for their chosen school.

The choice of where you send your child to school should never be a political football about money.

And it is a fallacy to say that only the wealthy send their children to private schools. Most parents of private school children are on moderate double incomes and are striving to give their kids the best educational opportunities they can provide for them. Their children are entitled to a government subsidy for education as much as any other child. It is a facile argument to deny private schools access to public funds—a bit like the old ‘car pool’ arguments we used to hear in the ’70s that people who drive alone in their car to work, when it can hold four people, should be taxed extra.

Private schools are not the enemy… they make our public schools better. If there were no private schools there would be a huge dumbing down of our public education system because there would not be the mass income from the leagues of private school parents who are currently subsidising community education, as we now enjoy. It would mean that the greatly increased cost of public education would have to be funded somehow . (If there are no private schools it follows that all those former private students will flood the public system.) The diversity and infrastructure that our education system currently provides our society through public and private means would have to scale down into a public system that risked depending on  superficial political viewpoints like  the twittering candidate that focus on the money, rather than the education.

A political correctness is already sweeping though our public education system that denies religious emphasis, patriotism, disallows strong discipline, and favours teachers who work to union rules and ideologies. Private schools have more freedom to focus on a given religion, to encourage self-discipline in students, to hire teachers who are prepared to work on extracurricular after hours activities. A private school offers parents a democratic choice of the societal values they want influencing their children, and they are prepared to pay extra for having that choice.  However, they are still entitled to a basic right of government subsidised education. That is the right of every child in our country.

Sometimes a child needs a particular type of school, whether it be co-ed, single sex, religious, etc.  for it to be the most conducive to promote the child’s academic and social progress.  Some children live in remote areas and boarding at private schools is their only option for a comprehensive education. Private schools give parents that choice to find the right environment for their individual child and it is naïve and simplistic to argue against private education on the basis of money. The private vs public school debate is not about rich people taking advantage of poor people as this would be politician and others will have you believe.

It is interesting that the Commonwealth Government is currently trying to gain more autonomy for public schools so that, like private schools, they can shape their school to respond to the community they serve, yet the main force against the idea is the teachers’ union.

Our children deserve the best education we can give them. The private vs public school funding debate should not be about budgets, teacher working conditions, or socialism vs capitalism. It should not be an ugly portrayal of  haves vs. have-nots.

It should be about ensuring every parent has a choice to obtain the quality education they seek for their child, and that every child has access to the educational opportunities they need to become a happy, confident and productive adult in our Society.


PS : Interesting origins of Ps & Qs

There are several different theories as to the origin of the phrase, but there is no definite proof as to which is correct.

One explanation suggests that “Ps and Qs” is short for “pleases” and “thank-yous”, the latter of which contains a sound similar to the pronunciation of the name of the letter “Q”. This phrase would be used by parents to educate their children to not forget to use those polite words when they speak to people. Possibly, it meant “please” and “excuse me.” Young children would pronounce them as Ps and Qs.

Another origin comes from English pubs and taverns of the seventeenth century. Bartenders would keep a watch on the alcohol consumption of the patrons; keeping an eye on the pints and quarts that were consumed. As a reminder to the patrons, the bartender would recommend they “mind their Ps and Qs”


One thought on “Let’s mind the Ps and Qs of education

  1. Very interesting trivia on Ps and Qs… maybe certain people paid by the public purse could be reminded that manners are still considered to be important amongst many members of the community. If the government did not support private schools (particularly the lower fee Catholic and Lutheran schools) then the public education system would be so overloaded that it could never cope. Last time I looked the ALP had a strong policy of supporting these schools, maybe this want-to-be ALP politician if not able to understand the needs of the voters, should at least get in touch with the party policies of the ALP if attempting to represent them.

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