Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You're a good guy, but ethics classes could be a deal breaker....

Heidi (last name)
(my address and email)

24th November 2010

Andrew Constance
Member for Bega

Dear Mr Constance,

I am deeply concerned about your Party's recent decision to scrap ethics classes if you are voted in. I have spoken about this with you as a journalism student back in July. At that time your party’s stance was firmly that you did not oppose the trial ethics classes. In fact the Liberals thought they were such a good idea they should be available to all students, not just those who choose not to join in with SRE. Since then the independent analysis of the program has come back positive. It is my understanding that St James Ethics centre has taken on board a number of the recommendations in the report. The program is now ready to be rolled out to more schools, in the new year. What’s more, the program seems to have strong support from the public.

All of this seems positive to me, so, why the strong opposition to the classes now? I simply don’t understand the motives behind it. If the true issue was the, so called, competition for the time slot then why not simply move the classes when/if you get elected? Or make them a compulsory part of the primary curriculum? What is the reason for the turn around, and for treats of abandoning the classes?

Unfortunately, whether moving or ditching the classes, the Liberals have not presented any solution for the original issue. The problem of children sitting idle for ½ hour if parents opt them out of SRE. These children were not allowed to participate in any learning activities during the SRE time slot every week. The news papers were full of anecdotes about children being left alone on the school verandah, or being discriminated against for there different worldviews.

Please can you provide me with some answers, or at the very least some comforting words to ease my deep concern that your Party is disregarding the importance of choice for parents. I sincerely believe that you have nothing but your constituents’ best interests at heart. You are always out and about in the electorate and you have done a fine job representing us in state parliament. For me personally, you made time for a political news interview with a first year journalism student, which is far more than most other MPs committed to. Frankly, I think you are a ‘top bloke’. That being said, this anti-choice choice attitude of the Liberal Leader may be a deal-breaker for me. Be assured, I’ll be contacting every state liberal member with an e-mail address in my quest to understand.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


As you may or may not know, today Verity Firth confirmed that the State of New South Wales has approved the introduction ethics classes into primary schools. Verity Firth is the NSW minister for education and training and this is a link to her blog:

(those of you who already know all about it, jump to "complete findings here", I've added stars to help you find it. You're welcome)
Earlier this year a trial was run in a number of schools across the state. As you can imagine, there was plenty on controversy surrounding the trials. The churches and religious lobby groups didn't like the idea of secular ethics very much, and kicked up a bit of a stink.

The St. James Ethics centre formulated the curriculum. After the trial there was a complete analysis of the classes by the University of South Australia. The investigation was far more invasive than anything the SRE(special religious education) classes have ever had to face. And, credit to St James ethics centre, the findings were very positive.

The complete findings are here:

What I really wanted to point out was recommendation number 6 on page 83:

"Recommendation 6:
That information about SRE curricula and other such courses at individual schools be made available to parents / carers in the form of fact sheets to mirror that DET fact sheets for parents on Gender or Drug education. The fact sheets should provide no more than a summary of the aims and processes of the different SRE offerings, and each summary should be no more than two paragraphs in length. It might be useful for the DET to design a template for this purpose"

I just thought it was interesting that non-Christians have to jump through hoops and undergo intense scrutiny to teach about ethics. When, on the other hand, parents are not privy to the goings on in SRE. @NathanLee on twitter thinks that it might pay NOT to know what SRE is teaching (twitter hashtag is #NSWethics check it out for more info over the next little while).

What could possibly be so bad that SRE has to hide its curriculum?

P.S. I neglected to mention Penny Sharpe MLC, and her hard work pushing the ethics classes. Penny gave this little blogger her first polictical interview for her journalism subjects and she's a dragonboater.