Friday, December 20, 2013

school discrimination? 2

Tut, tut - there's a chap in the letters pages of today's IT proudly proclaiming that his school's enrollment policy is free of the discriminatory 'hurdles' he feels affect religious schools (see my previous post on this debate here). He's the chairman of the board of management of an 'educate together' school, where they operate a 'first come, first served' policy, which is far better than all the 'extra hurdles' that denominational schools use as part of their admissions policies, he reckons (see his letter here).

We'll leave aside for the moment that first come, first served policies are considered discriminatory to immigrants and new comers to an area and are, as far as I am aware, soon to be banned by the department of education for that reason. Fact is, if the gentleman thinks this debate is actually about discrimination he is sorely mistaken. It is a naked attempt to deny parents their constitutional right to chose a denominational education for their children, motivated by an openly stated desire to prevent children being 'indoctrinated' in the faith of their mothers and fathers and ancestors. The 'D-word' is simply a very useful weapon in that ideological battle. 

However, if he thinks a lack of a religious ethos will prevent the school of which he is so proud from becoming a casualty of this struggle he is equally mistaken. Any dismantling of the current system will impact not only on the ability of all schools to determine their admission policies, based on the needs of communities in which they are based, but also the values they wish to pass on to their children. It can not be done any other way; to do otherwise would be to court accusations of discrimination. 

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