Musings of an antipodean contrarian

Archive for the category “education”

Cancel the NSW Proud Schools program

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 27 Jan 2013.

The mainstream media have largely ignored it, and the Department of Education has fobbed off enquiries, but the NSW “Proud Schools” program appears to misrepresent the clear teaching of the Bible on homosexuality, accuses Christians of inciting “homophobia,” and represents a waste of taxpayer money which could be better spent on numeracy and literacy in economically disadvantaged communities.

Material associated with a similar program operating in over 70 schools in Victoria claims that Bible teaching about homosexual behaviour is a key cause of “homophobia,” and seeks to convince students that “modern” biblical interpretation considers homosexual acts as normal.

If NSW politicians and the Education Department receive too few complaints, the Proud Schools program is likely to be rolled out to every NSW state school, and it may not be long before such a program is incorporated in the compulsory national curriculum, with Christian schools also compelled to teach it.

I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.

School chaplaincy is here to stay

A School Chaplain is a safe person for young people to connect with at school, providing a listening ear, a caring presence, and a message of hope.  They care for students struggling with a wide range of issues, including family problems, confusing relationships, friendship issues, peer pressure, self-esteem issues, bullying, stress and anxiety.

The partnership between the school and the Chaplain, supported by local churches, businesses and community organisations, provides a network of local support and assistance.

Parents, teachers, principals and many in the wider community know this.  There are now some 3500 schools participating in the highly successful National School Chaplaincy Program.

The NSW Council of Churches welcomes legislation passed by federal parliament on Tuesday to allow the government to continue to fund the program after the High Court last week ruled that the scheme was constitutionally invalid because it exceeded Commonwealth funding powers.  School chaplaincy is here to stay.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 1 July 2012.

School chaplaincy here to stay

On Monday Australia’s High Court ruled that the federal government’s direct funding model for the National School Chaplaincy Program is constitutionally invalid.  But the court also found that government funding of chaplaincy does not breach the principle of church-state separation, and other funding models are possible.

The Howard Government introduced the scheme in 2007 and it has continued, with the Gillard Government funding about 2700 schools and promising to extend this to 1000 more schools.

The High Court decision does not spell the end of school chaplaincy.  The program has strong support from parents, teachers, principals and churches.  Chaplains add value to the school community, offering care and support to all students in time of need, freeing teachers to do the work they are employed to do.

Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has pledged the Government’s continued support and indicated her determination to find an alternative funding model.  School chaplaincy is here to stay.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 24 Jun 2012.

Special Religious Education a roaring success

On Thursday I attended an event at the NSW Parliament to celebrate the success of Special Religious Education in NSW state schools, recognise the 40th anniversary of the Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools, and congratulate a number of veteran SRE teachers, including the longest serving Scripture teacher who has been teaching SRE since 1938.

There are over 12,000 SRE teachers in NSW public schools, and both the demand and the support for SRE has been growing in recent years. Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and Shadow Education spokesperson Carmel Tebbutt sang the praises of Special Religious Education, which despite competition from secular ethics classes this year shows no signs of decline.

NSW parents and students can be grateful for the introduction of SRE into the school curriculum back in 1880, and for the thousands of dedicated and trained volunteers who have taught SRE over the years, adding value to students’ education and lives.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 1 Apr 2012.

Ethics needs a strong philosophical foundation

The NSW Government is conducting an inquiry into the proposed repeal of legislation to allow ethics classes to be taught in state schools.  The NSW Council of Churches has called for significant legislative reforms including an independent review of the controversial classes with a report to Parliament before the date of the next state election.

Christians believe that God has revealed himself to humankind in Creation, in the Bible, and through Jesus Christ, and that this divine revelation provides the best foundation for ethical deliberation and moral development.

The Council cannot support any school ethics program that deliberately prohibits a child from learning certain spiritual and ethical truths when forming his or her moral compass.

The prospect of large numbers of young children determining their own basis for morality and ethical decision making, intentionally excluded from proper consideration of the Christian foundations for ethics, is a problem for society and not a solution.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 18 Mar 2012.

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