Protest now against new private school handouts
"Public schools are places where children grow and learn with the people they will have to live and work with as adults. For 150 years these schools have provided the basis of the free, tolerant, diverse and dynamic society in which we live. Dr Kemp has publicly stated that he will use public money to drive students out of public education", said Bev Baker, President of the Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations (P&Cs) of New South Wales. "His States' Grants legislation will deliver only $4,000 (really only inflation) to government schools, $60,000 to Catholic and equivalent schools and around $900,000 to elite private schools. "But most importantly the legislation will, if carried, deliver a funding system deliberately designed to residualise public schools, interfere with their ability to meet the needs of all children, end equitable provision and cause untold harm to the safety, stability and prosperity of this nation", said Ms Baker. Widely known and highly regarded for her non-stop struggle on behalf of quality public education, Ms Baker points out that the new system of funding based on socio-economic status (SES) being pushed by the Howard Government is intended to fragment communities and create an education system divided by race, class and religion. Parents are being encouraged to apply for enrolment at non-government schools, many of which are non-secular and do not reflect or encourage multiculturalism. Private schools do not offer the same guarantees of universal access, just and equitable discipline and expulsion policies, parent participation or public accountability that are required of state schools. Ms Baker in her capacity as President of the P&C in NSW believes that the 600,000 parents of students in NSW government schools will be "horrified and offended" to learn that the Labor Party intends to vote for the SES schools funding model. Labor has put forward amendments to the legislation, at the same time as letting it be known that it will not use its vote, along with the Democrats and Greens, to block the legislation. Ms Baker encourages parents to write to their local Member of Parliament and the Senators in their State to express their opposition to the States Grant Bill and to seek a full and open inquiry into responsible methods of funding education.