Tags: distant relatives

21 Aug 2009, Comments (17)

Not a Blasted Wasteland, Part 1

Author: Helen

Someone mentioned that it had been a while since I posted on schools. I’ve written letters to the paper, and thought deep thinky-thoughts about it. There’s a Movement going on in our neighbourhood, and it shows a burgeoning support for public education. But, contrary pinkofemmoblogger that I am, I can’t find it my heart to support them all the way. Why, you say? It’ll take a while to explain.

In my area, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Primary schools. When we moved here, we had three nearly equidistant public schools to choose from, all bright, well resourced and with high morale. We ended up choosing the one just across a park from our house, which the kids could walk to once they were old enough. I even discovered that I had some distant relatives in the area and one, about my age, had taught at that school under the existing principal. How nice is that?

In the matter of high schools, we are not so spoiled. We did have a local high school, which fell victim to the Kennett government school-closing orgy. We do have a local school which is only five kilometres away, and is easily accessible by a bus service which goes right by the school doors.

It happens that this is the school which the daughter attends and at which she’s relentlessly pursuing a highly academic programme, with plenty of input from some impressive and motivated teachers. This school excels in a broad range of areas, with special emphasis on music and the arts, including film and TV, and they excel in maths, science and technology as well.

Here’s the thing: It bears the Scarysuburb name. And it appears that since my area became gentrified, and the Audis and SUVs and two-storey extensions covered the land, the incoming population have the opportunity to send their children there. But the parents who “support public education” don’t want to send their children to Scarysuburb High, because they see it as dangerous, or beyond help, or whatever, because it is part of the existing system. And as everyone knows, the existing public system is scary and failing. They fail to see that it’s the flight of the middle classes to the private and Catholic systems that is leaving the public system underfunded and in danger of becoming a “safety net”.

They want something better, somehow, built for them, so that their kids won’t have to mix with the presumed dangerous paint-sniffers and ice dealers at Scarysuburb High and they will not have to go on a terrifying, twenty-minute bus ride to (gasp) an adjoining suburb.