Letters to
the editor

Make all schools great

Mike Seccombe’s “The war on universities” (May 6-12) could form part 2 of his “Schools of injustice” article (October 8-14, 2016), as a most comprehensive journalistic dissection and contribution regarding the mix of recent political history with education and its resultant effects. The value of education to the economy is clear, yet the way investment is poorly managed is a symptom of inconsistencies and a lack of courage by national decision-makers when matched with the core purpose of education. For schools, purpose needs to match what we see as important: that is, generally, for young people to be happy, healthy and successful. If we combine that with the input of leading educational thinkers, a differentiated school system would not be the result. Choice is not an option, nor is it helpful when the playing field is uneven. The OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 report on social segregation in schools has Australia placed eighth out of 71 participant countries. That is not just embarrassing, it is a travesty. The mantra must be all schools are great schools, not some more than others. To assist, comprehensive investment and a co-ordinated integrated plan between all agencies must be enacted – education, health, support services. Be careful, however, Gonski Mark 2 and markers of success need to match the core purpose of education, then the economy will benefit.

– Ted Noon, Lugarno, NSW

The class of 2017

Mike Seccombe’s article identifies a genuine but not well-understood dilemma in Australian politics and everyday life. I am one of those whose political views shifted in line with the research upon which Seccombe’s article depends, and it did not shift without personal cost. To my family I became an “educated idiot” and was discounted as such in much the same way as the right discount the politically correct or the latte-sipping lefties today. Apparently to be politically correct or a leftie is simply to question views held by the conservative elite and their followers. Towards the end of the article Seccombe refers to the report by Deloitte Access Economics on the contribution of tertiary education to Australia’s prosperity and the associated increase in wages of those without tertiary qualifications. I would love to see an investigative article that explores this link in more depth as an important public contribution to the current debate.

– Colin Nelson, Yass, NSW

Robbing universities no solution

It really makes no sense for Malcolm Turnbull to fund schools so generously to try to germinate the plentiful harvest of excellent school-leavers who will suffer their further education prospects being ground to a halt by rising fees and higher education cutbacks. The wise would contend education as a continuous endeavour supported by both schools and universities. Supercharging Australian schools funding while gutting universities disrupts the longitudinal commitment necessary to facilitate the entry of a burgeoning crop of excellent high-school graduates unleashed by Gonski 2.0 into a quality university education. The government’s ill-educated approach to university funding will likely result in a generation of school-leavers dropping off the precipice in being not able to afford the higher education requisite to remaining competitive in our innovation and knowledge economy. Students could abandon Australia’s centres of higher learning as funding shortages incite their downward spiral in reputation. International students with their economy-supporting fees may choose to flee Australia’s education sector. In sum, this funding restructure recalls robbing Peter to pay Paul and is a folly that will surely harm future Australians.

– Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld

Kindness and cruelty

Thank you to Behrouz Boochani, and his story of simple humanity shown by Rubbin Malachi and his family on their tiny island of Mendirlin (“An island off Manus”, May 6-12). Thank you also to Moones Mansoubi and Arnold Zable who helped bring us his moving journalism.

There are many of us who believe it is time for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to resign or else be sacked by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He has lied and made racist claims. His behaviour as immigration minister is a disgrace.

– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW

Gadfly has no rival

Although accurate, Guy Rundle’s description of News Corp was itself usurped by Greens senator Scott Ludlam, who in a recent interview nailed Murdoch’s myrmidons as “a small handful of individuals who sit in a closed room sniffing each other’s farts”. So although I share
Rob Park’s admiration (Letters, “Rundle matches Gadfly’s sting”, May 6-12), I disagree with his premise that Gadfly’s crown as king of witticisms is under threat. The evisceration of Fairfax management (“Unrepentant. Always., May 6-12”) was yet another example of the master at his best.

– Chris Roylance, Paddington, Qld

Playing the odds

Libby Gleeson (Letters, “Pushed to limit by headlines”, May 6-12) must be one rather confused lady. Groan-worthy the headlines may well be, but it seems a tad over the top to cancel her subscription to a paper offering “well-written articles”. What mystifies me is the utterly illogical buying of The Saturday Paper “only occasionally”. How can Ms Gleeson be certain there will be no horrid headlines in a randomly purchased issue that could push her right over the limit?

– Ian Nowak, Subiaco, WA

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 13, 2017.

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