You might think that with the nation mesmerised by the proposal to legalise marriage between consenting New Zealand sheep farmers, consideration of all other issues has, if you will excuse the expression, ground to a halt. Fortunately this is not so; for example, the campaign to make our educational system worse than it is now, is forging ahead regardless. You may not know that a team of high-powered experts has been labouring away tirelessly on drawing up the terms of Gonski 3.0. As you will recall, Gonski 1.1 was supposed to be the answer to the knotty problem of how to waste more money on education without improving anything, but leaving reasonable scope for wasting more money in the future. Judging by the deterioration of standards in literacy and numeracy, it is fair to say that Gonski 1.1 met with some, although limited, success and at least proved the theory worked well.
Gonski 2.0 was a more advanced and sophisticated project designed to tackle an even knottier problem: if, despite wasting so much money under Gonski 1.01, you find that Kazakhstan is still perversely blocking our progress down the spiral staircase and stubbornly refusing to let us take our rightful place at the bottom, is there not some way of spending still more money in the hope that we might slip past that challenging republic? Giving more money than we should have to Catholics, who keep teaching tedious practical subjects instead of the more sophisticated and exotic ones, certainly helped, but it must now be conceded that Gonski 2.0 was not a great success. All hope and confidence has thus been placed in Gonski 3.0 as a last ditch stand that will push Kazakhstan out of the way, and Nicaragua too, and esconce Australia in the vanguard of educational failures.
Accordingly, a lot of trust and confidence has been put in this, the third attempt to plunge Australia into an educational no man’s land and, as I say, a band of experts has been hard at work to achieve this objective. The team is led by a vibrant young lady who has a Ph.D. in sociology from the Patrice Lamumba University, the renowned seat of learning that rose from the ashes of the Belgian Congo and whose alumni have been responsible for ruining the economies of most African countries. The work is well underway but it has had some problems. A highly placed source inside the heavily fortified Gonski 3.0 HQ has told us that their work had been going quite well in proposing several previously unrecognised educational reforms with immense scope for spending money for no return. For instance, a particularly worthwhile project has been spending new Gonski money on the elimination of all forms of competition in school sports. This work is based on the ground-breaking reform of the junior football league in Melbourne that has abolished scoring at matches when one team is doing better than its heart-broken opponent. It is felt that this might be the beginning of a successful joint project by both government and opposition to end the inequality that there is in all sporting contests. As our patron Senator Wong said just the other day ‘You have no idea how offensive the marking of scores can be to parents of pupils who are not sportingly inclined.’
The panel’s ongoing work was well advanced when it was discovered that there was circulating in the office a ‘proposed educational charter’ which could have been the death knell of education in Australia. Fortunately, we got hold of it just in the nick of time and erased it from all our computers (a little trick we picked up from Hillary Clinton’s latest work, Erasing Emails for Dummies). You may relax to some extent, as none of its proposals will ever be recommended by Gonski 3.0. But in the public interest we have decided to publish it here, all the same, just to show how vicious are the reactionary conservative forces in education and how hard we must work to prevent such so-called reforms from being introduced.
This, then, is the scurrilous programme that conservative forces came so close to having adopted in Australia.
- Teachers will teach pupils to read, write, add up and speak English.
- They will also teach them grammar. In particular, pupils will be taught not to use nouns as verbs, as in ‘I think I will transition into a girl this week.’
- There will be a weekly school assembly to honour the Queen and the flag and to sing the national anthem.
- Every pupil will take a course on Australian history, including its discovery and settlement, and on the explorers, settlers, farmers and workers who have made Australia great.
- Pupils will read the great classics of Western literature.
- They will also study the sacrifices our soldiers made in many wars.
- They will learn how our structure of government has made our country a strong democracy.
- No teacher will teach or imply that Australians are racists.
- There will be no teaching of climate change or any other branch of magic, necromancy, witchcraft, voodoo, clairvoyance or astral travel.
- Geography will include a detailed study of Kazakhstan and its amazing achievement in absorbing economic refugees.
You can see the danger posed by such extremist, Trump-like proposals. They might improve our educational standards and fit our young people for gainful employment and useful lives, but that is contrary to the whole theory and practice of modern education. Fortunately, the Gonski 3.0 unit was able to nip the whole thing in the bud and is now free to propose a responsible continuation of the education policies that have brought Australia to where it is.