In the impending Australian federal election in May, how are young voters (18-24yo) going to vote? For sure they’re keen on the Greens Party, and for sure they’re biased against the Coalition.
To elaborate, the March Newspoll of The Australian showed 17 per cent of youngsters (18-24) intending to vote Greens compared with 9% of all voters. Youngsters favored Labor 47 per cent (all voters 41 per cent) and youngsters gave the Coalition a derisory 24 per cent support (all voters, 34 per cent). On two-party preferred, the poll went 66 per cent of youngsters for Labor and only 34 per cent for the Coalition (all voters 55/45 per cent).
Part One of this essay – click heading How the UK combats activism in the classroom
I’d say they’ve emerged from 13 years of brainwashing by teachers, with further years at university getting them fully indoctrinated. States have anti-brainwashing policies, but the ability of all teachers to understand them, let alone implement them, is doubtful. In NSW and ACT in 2015, school leavers who scored in the bottom 50 per cent ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) scores made up half of all teaching degree offers. There were 28 offers made to students scoring an ATAR of 0-19, 29 offers to those scoring 20-29, and 73 offers to students with an ATAR of 30-39, according to a leaked study by academics which the universities had sought to suppress.
1985: Joan Kirner, soon to become Victoria’s Education Minister and Premier, argues that education must be reshaped as “part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change, rather than an instrument of the capitalist system”.
February 2005: Wayne Sawyer, the president of the NSW English Teachers Association and former chairman of the NSW Board of Studies English Curriculum Committee, bemoans in his editorial for English in Australia that the Howard Government was re-elected. He cites this as evidence that English teachers have failed in their job.
2006-22: Teachers uncritically force-feed literally millions of schoolkids Al Gore’s movies Inconvenient Truth and Inconvenient Sequel, often multiple times in various years, followed by Damon Gameau’s green propaganda movies 2040  and Regenerating Australia [April 2022].
December 2008: Federal Labor Education Minister Julia Gillard and Labor education ministers from five states concoct the “Melbourne Declaration” leading to “Sustainability” and the environment becoming one of three cross-curriculum priorities in Australian education. This gives free rein in schools for direct green/Left indoctrination and via third party curriculum material.
December 2015: School lessons compiled by the Australian Academy of Science and used by a third of secondary science teachers and 50,000-60,000 students include this for 15 to 16-year-olds:
♦ “Ask students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause.”
♦ “Lesson outcomes: At the end of this activity students will … appreciate the need to lobby at all levels of government to ignite and lead change – even if it is unpopular with the voters.”
♦ “If you were concerned about Earth’s sustainability, who would you vote for?”
♦ Could we do without It [mining]? Would you work for a mining company?”
November, 2018: Woodville High (SA) teacher, ex-Fair Work inspector and union delegate Regina Wilson, 58, posts to the Australian Education Union’s Facebook page her vow to “ensure that the next generation of voters in my classroom don’t vote Liberal”. She is the international student program manager at the 1000-pupil school and teaches classes in Years 8, 9 and 11. She claims in her defence that she is being targeted because of her gender. She retires with thanks from the principal a year later.
November 2020: Education Services Australia (ESA), a company set up by federal-state education ministers to provide free supplementary online materials for teachers (“Scootle”), gives Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating 17 hits, virtually all laudatory; Labor PM Gough Whitlam gets 56 hits, none hostile and most laudatory, and the Liberal’s PM John Howard gets more than 20 hits, none laudatory and most hostile.
June 2021: A climate-change manual for 5-14yo’s by the Primary English Teaching Association of Australia says,
Chapter 9 is a call for action. Without students taking personal action to mitigate climate change, there is no point to this book.
It urges schools to get kids chanting
an Earth-focused school or class ‘anthem’ at assemblies. (This) is a great way to build emotional attachment to the planet.
Education Publishing Australia gives the book its “Educational Resource” award for 2021.
September 2021: Cool Australia promotes to kids “Seated protest of national anthem:
- Strengths — Anyone who witnesses the national anthem can do it; Easy – doesn’t cost money or require organisation; Non-violent
- Weaknesses –– May not get a chance to share reasons for sitting down; Doesn’t necessarily change any other people’s behaviour.”
I wrote here about the UK’s 1996 legislation and 9000-word Guidance Notes in February banning teachers from politically-partisan teaching in class. “Political” there refers not merely to political parties but to all politically contentious themes and materials such as Black Lives Matter, #metoo and Britain’s recent imperial history. By law, UK teachers must treat such issues with a “balanced presentation of opposing views”.
In Australia’s state-based education systems, green-Left politics has already bolted through classrooms, partly by government design. The nadir is third-party green/Leftists like Cool Australia’s free prefabricated online lessons used by more than half of Australia’s teachers. So I’ve asked each education department – and NZ’s too – what restrictions it puts on partisan teaching.
Replies came in promptly and courteously, with only Queensland and NT failing to respond. Summaries are below. None have anti-political policies remotely as strong as the UK system. Unlike the UK, no state has an outright ban on school political activity by under-12s – think here of the School Strikes for Climate.
Federal Department of Education:
It directed my query to the states.
Schools must ensure the teaching and learning resources they use are challenging, engaging and age-appropriate with content that is not offensive to students or the wider school community.
The Department provides guidelines to inform teachers’ and principals’ decisions regarding the selection of teaching and learning resources.
Schools and teachers work hard to develop their students’ knowledge about Australia’s representative democracy and key institutions, processes, and roles in Australia’s political systems, in an apolitical manner.
The Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy is available online.
Partisan or party political materials, including materials that advocate for or against a particular political party, candidate or political issue in relation to an election campaign, must not be distributed, promoted or displayed in a school, other than for educational purposes.
The policy on Political activities is available online.
The “Appropriate Materials Policy” says schools shouldn’t offer materials and resources that offend students or the school community because of their “obscene, offensive or controversial nature” or by being age-inappropriate. Principals should alert the school community in advance to use of possible controversial texts, and give students and parents alerts. The principal should provide respectful and conciliatory responses to objections.
The Materials policy links to further “Guidance”. Teachers must anticipate reasonable objections and on request, offer alternative resources to be integrated into the class program, so the students involved are supported and not isolated.
Texts officially recommended for the Victorian Certificate of Education do not need further vetting for VCE students.
Teachers should use movies only in conformity with the movie’s rating, e.g. G, MA 15. Invited audiences for school public events and performances should be age-appropriate.
The Department gives schools a list of sensitive topics. In normal teaching, controversial subjects cannot be avoided. It is concerned about racial or religious themes or satires, sex themes, drug addiction, violence, suicide and “excessively bleak scenarios”. (Do “excessively bleak scenarios” include the imminent collapse of civilisation and even life on the planet based on climate scenarios from unvalidated computer modelling?).
Valid objections should involve the objector believing the student would be harmed in some way.
Objections based solely on the grounds that the teaching and learning resources are alleged to be educationally unsound or aesthetically unsound do not warrant action in relation to these guidelines but should be managed in accordance with the school’s general complaints policy.
This clause is in severe contrast to the UK Act which bans one-sided teaching of contentious matters. For example, I think Victoria permits principals or teachers to brush off any parent complaint about brainwashing, with parents having no legal recourse. To clarify, one would have to drill down into each school’s individual complaints-handling.
New South Wales
I was referred to departmental weblinks. Key extracts:
Schools are neutral places for rational discourse and objective study. Discussion of controversial issues in schools should allow students to explore a range of viewpoints and not advance the interest of any particular group [including green groups?]. Contemporary material of an overtly political nature must not be distributed to students unless the material is for study purposes and is curriculum-relevant. Parents, carers and students may hold different views, to be treated respectfully.
The study of controversial issues provides valuable learning experiences when managed appropriately. Staff and students may advocate for issues or activities that are important to them, consistent with expectations in the department’s Code of Conduct for staff and Behaviour code for students. Principals, teachers, external providers and visitors are in a privileged position to influence students. All staff therefore have a responsibility to address the study of controversial issues in accordance with this policy.
Teachers, other school staff, contractors and volunteers maintain objectivity, avoiding distortion of discussion and acknowledging the rights of students, parents and carers to hold different viewpoints. Where possible, pre-check presentations and materials used by visitors and external providers for appropriateness and advise the principal.
Establishing how parents will be informed about programs and involved in consultation is a school-based decision.
Controversial issues are not static and are impacted by changing attitudes, world events and social values. They may be questions, subjects, topics or problems creating contention and debate. Controversial issues will differ across schools and communities. Teaching approaches to controversial issues need to be sensitive, objective and balanced. They should ensure that a range of views on a subject are taken into account.
Welcome to country and/or the acknowledgement of traditional owners is not considered a controversial issue.
In regard to the last point, why aren’t welcomes to country deemed controversial?
Schools are not places to proselytise, that is, to convert students who are not already members of a particular belief system . Schools should not be used to advance political platforms or for recruiting into partisan groups organised upon restricted party lines. Material inconsistent with the values of public education or the school’s purpose and goals or that advances the interest of any particular group, political or otherwise, must not be distributed.
I hope that includes WWF, Earth Hour, Greenpeace, School Strike for Climate and ACF.
Teachers are in a privileged position to influence students. A teacher’s personal view should not impact on teaching a subject. Sharing their knowledge or view may be necessary to assist students to form their own views or to answer a query. The response should be balanced and presented as one opinion to be considered critically along with any others. Teachers must ensure that all views and evidence are presented impartially in all discussions of controversial issues. Visitors and external providers are not permitted to proselytise.
Local Members, whether in Government or Opposition, should be warmly welcomed at schools within their electorates.
All materials that include controversial issues are to be reviewed and approved by the principal in advance. This responsibility cannot be delegated to people from outside the school, including the publishers of material for use in the school. Distribution of material makes the school a ‘publisher’ and therefore answerable for the views expressed.
The department replied: “The Department for Education’s ‘Political matters policy’ is an internal-facing document for departmental employees, but we can share the following excerpts with you.”
Employees must not use their position to advocate for any political party or view. This extends to employees using their position to help or facilitate a political party, lobby group or vested interest in using department facilities and resources, or gaining access to department employees or related persons, for example parents or students.
Discussing political issues with children and students should always be driven by the educational program, not by partisan groups or individuals. A balanced view must always be presented to students.
Department equipment and materials must not be used for the promotion of a political party, candidate or lobby group. The distribution or display by any means, including emailing material for a party, candidate or lobby group, is not permitted.
Members of parliament and candidates are welcome at schools and preschools within their electorates when it will not disrupt normal activities. School and preschool visits must not be for political or campaign purposes.
Tasmanian teachers are required by the Tasmanian State Service Principles, (State Service Act 2000), to be apolitical and to act in an impartial, ethical and professional manner. In addition, teachers follow the Australian Curriculum, which includes the subject area of Civics and Citizenship.
The stipulates the curriculum and teaching in government schools is not to promote any particular political party . It also stipulates that information intended to generate support for a political party is not to be disseminated on school premises (section 121 on page 100pdf). This is narrowly confined to political parties, rather than sensitive political issues.
Teachers in ACT public schools are to abide by the Code of Conduct for Teachers, School Leaders and Principals.
Section 17 of the Code says teachers have the same speech rights as everyone else. However, teachers need to ensure that there is no reasonable perception of conflict of interest between their private political opinions or activities and their official responsibilities.
Teachers need to be careful about expressing political opinion in the workplace and sharing their views with students. All ACT public servants, including teachers, are also subject to the ACT Public Service Code of Conduct. This code illustrates by saying that teachers should not wear political slogans and proselytise to kids in class. But they could wear union T-shirts on Fridays to promote the union and invite other teachers to hear about the union in the staff room during breaks.
To continue reading this survey click HERE