Principals embroiled in political stoush

by Heather Jane28 Jun 2016

Catholic school principals are at loggerheads with their governing body over the distribution of a political leaflet ahead of Saturday’s Federal election.

Last week, the Catholic Education Commission (CEC) of Victoria urged principals to distribute a letter to parents which claimed that the education policies of the Greens Party would do harm to their child’s education.
 
However, some principals and school leaders have contacted the Greens to inform them that they will not distribute the letter, which has already been sent to 100 schools in electorates the Greens are hoping to win.
 
One Catholic principal told The Age this week that it was not a principal’s role to influence a parent’s political decision and that he would not distribute the letter.
 
“I respect the adults in our school community to make up their own mind about who to vote for. I didn't see the point in us telling parents how to vote. I am sure they have made up their own minds already,” he said.
 
In a letter to the CEC’s executive director, Stephen Elder, Greens education spokesman, Nick McKim, said his support of the needs-based Gonski reforms, as well as the party’s $4.8bn pledge to schools, would be a boost to Catholic students.
 
“Perhaps that is because they understand that your letter is motivated far more by your close association with the Liberal Party than it is by a desire to act in the best interests of students at Catholic school and their parents,” Senator McKim said.
 
Elder defended his stance, saying the Greens would cut funding to private schools and repeal religious exemptions for employment.
 
“His party would seek to gut our schools because the Greens perceive that funding for our schools has had, quote ‘an adverse impact on public education.’ So the Senator needs to get his stories straight,” he said. 
 
Elder added that the Greens had ignored his requests to clarify its education policies. 
 
The letter attacked the Greens’ model because in addition to basing funding on socio-economic measures, it would consider a school's resources and its ability to generate income from other sources.
 
It also slammed the party for seeking to “abolish our ability to hire staff on religious grounds”.

Catholic Secondary Principals Australia (CASPA) president, Phil Lewis, told The Educator that CASPA has historically had a concern regarding the Greens policies in relation to religious identity and funding to Catholic education.
 
He added that further details regarding these issues will be published soon in a statement from the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC).

 

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