22 January 2004

School study contradicts PM's stance

A study commissioned by the Federal Government last year found that state schools were doing a good job teaching 'values' - contradicting Prime Minister John Howard's claims that they are 'too values-neutral'.

The study found that schools in all sectors, including state and private, had good systems to promote and foster values such as tolerance and understanding, social justice and respect.

While the report found some improvement was needed in all sectors, it said there were 'a broad range of varied and excellent practices and approaches to values education in Australian government and non-government schools'.

The findings are in apparent conflict with the Prime Minister's recent criticism of the state school system. Mr Howard came under fire from private and public school teachers and the Opposition this week after commenting that parents were moving their children out of the state system because the schools were 'too politically correct and too values-neutral'.

Mr Howard's position was endorsed yesterday by his two most senior Liberal cabinet ministers, Peter Costello and Tony Abbott, with both agreeing that political correctness in government schools had gone too far.

The study contradicting Mr Howard's view was commissioned by Education Minister Brendan Nelson and backed by all state education ministers.

Whoops! Now we'll hear that the study was wrong because it was prepared by black armband sociologists or something.

Update The full report, (861 k PDF) with its glowing endorsement by Federal Education Science and Technology Minister Brendan Nelson is available.

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