I hate to sully that famous phrase by co-opting it for a minor stoush on planet Earth, but it seems apt.
It seems the tide is starting to turn on the religion-in-schools debate, with the news that Education Department has modified it’s policy to ensure that non-RI kids are given ‘meaningful activities’ to do instead of simply sitting at the back of the class or sitting unsupervised in corridors. Interestingly, the change in policy comes mid-way through a VCAT hearing resulting from a complaint that the former policy discriminates on the basis of religion. The Age report is here.
Not surprisingly, the Minister for Education, Martin Dixon, is painting this as a ‘clarification of responsibilities’, rather than a change in policy. Even though a change in policy is clearly what it is. He even re-iterated that insulting ‘I haven’t received any complaints about children running around the corridors unsupervised’. Trivialising the issue to that extent is disingenuous at best, and moronic at worst.
Despite the changes, counsel for the parents who initiated the case, Holding Redlich partner Andrea Tsalamandris, has said:
‘The new guidelines were potentially a positive step, however, they relied upon significant resources within schools to enable other activities to be offered and for these to be supervised.’
This is a good point – I would argue that, as do the parents involved in the case, why should these extra resources even be required, if they are simply propping up the teaching of religion in the school?
There’s a simple solution: teach it out of hours. It’s no different to tennis, music, macrame, yoga, or any of a hundred other extra-curricular activities – pay your money, and have your children learn whatever fairy tales you wish, but don’t expect the taxpayer to indulge you.
Better yet, if can avoid indoctrinating children with that nonsense altogether, then it will indeed be a giant leap for mankind.
*(C) NASA 1969, even though Neil Armstrong blew it – he was supposed to say ‘One small step for A man’.