Children’s schooling suffers as teachers pursue Marxist agenda
Kevin Donnelly, The Australian, 19 December 2016
There’s nothing new in NSW’s Helensburgh Public School using Year 3 children as refugee activists and classroom teachers wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Teachers for Refugees — Close the Camps, Bring Them Here”.
The NSW Teachers Federation and the Australian Education Union have a long history of using the education system to indoctrinate students with Marxist-inspired causes.
In 2002, after the Howard government committed troops to Iraq, the AEU directed teachers to “take action in your workplace and community” and to “support students who take an anti-war stance (and to) encourage participation in peaceful protests”.
Instead of education and the curriculum being objective, whereby students are taught to be critical-minded and to weigh alternative points of view, the AEU’s leadership is only concerned with imposing its politically correct views on controversial issues.
While parents are shocked by the Marxist-inspired Safe Schools LGBTQI program, which teaches children gender is fluid and celebrating being a man or a woman is heteronormative, the AEU gives it full support. Its federal president, Correna Haythorpe, describes critics of the Safe Schools program as “extreme conservatives” opposing a “highly effective and positive program”.
At a time when Australia’s international test results are in free fall, the AEU, instead of focusing on the basics, is more interested in campaigning for “global movements for peace, social justice, nuclear disarmament, justice for refugees and the environment”.
In relation to climate change, AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace is happy to visit schools as a result of being trained “by Al Gore to give his famous climate change presentation as part of his Climate Project”.
Since its establishment in the early 1990s, the AEU and its state and territory branches have campaigned for a plethora of neo-Marxist, feminist, LGBTQI and postcolonial causes. Such is the success of the AEU in determining what happens in the school curriculum that a past president, Pat Byrne, was able to boast “the conservatives have a lot of work to do to undo the progressive curriculum”.
Instead of celebrating Australia’s economic successes, our high standard of living and the fact that we are a peaceful, democratic nation, the AEU argues the curriculum must critique the “role of the economy, the sexual division of labour, the dominant culture and the education system in reproducing inequality”.
As such, the AEU is a long-time critic of the academic curriculum and meritocracy, where there are winners and losers.
Supposedly, based on a Marxist view of society, the traditional curriculum and competition reinforce capitalist hegemony and the power of the ruling class.
Instead of ranking students in terms of motivation and ability, and holding schools responsible for results, the AEU argues learning must “be premised on co-operation rather than competition and the prospect of success rather than failure”.
Drawing on communist theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu and Louis Althusser, schools are condemned as essential parts of the ideological state apparatus that, as a result, must by captured and transformed.
As prominent Victorian union activist Bill Hannan argued some years ago, “We don’t have to wait for society to change before education can change. Education is part of society. By changing it, we help to change society.”
Or, as argued by the then left-wing Victorian education minister Joan Kirner, “we have to reshape education so that it is part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change, rather than instrument of the capitalist system”.
Not surprisingly, given it’s old-style statist view of education, where governments, bureaucracies and teacher unions enforce a command-and-control model of public policy, the AEU opposes the existence and funding of Catholic and independent schools.
Even though parents are voting with their feet and about 35 per cent of students attend non-government schools, the AEU argues “there is no pre-existing, predetermined entitlement to public funding: i.e. there is no a priori justification for public funding to private schools”.
By denying funding to non-government schools and arguing that additional billions must be spent on government schools, especially to employ more teachers and prospective union members, the AEU is obviously driven by self-interest.
Self-interest also explains why the AEU is committed to an antiquated and inflexible centralised enterprise bargaining system, one that ensures its seat at the table and that denies individual schools the freedom to shape employment conditions that best suit local needs.
Ignored is the international movement to free schools from provider capture, represented by charter schools in the US and free schools in England, and to give them the autonomy to best meet the needs and aspirations of their local communities.
Instead of educating students in a balanced and impartial way the AEU is committed to indoctrinating children with neo-Marxist, politically correct groupthink.
Kevin Donnelly is senior research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of Dumbing Down.