Educational apartheid in Australian schools?
Retired school principal Chris Bonnor thinks so. See below. His basic beef is that children from affluent homes do better at school. He ventures no explanation of why that is so. He simply says that it is deplorable. But is it changeable? He seems to think that it obviously is but he makes no argument to that effect. He is enclosed in a warm cloak of his own righteousnes that frees him from any obligation to justify his views.
He does not at all consider the very well attested fact that higher IQ kids do better at school and that IQ is mainly hereditary. Findings to that effect have emerged repeatedly for over a century. So there never will be an equality of educational outcomes.
Chris could probably live with that but what really burns him up is that the kids who do well also come from more affluent homes. And -- horrors! -- they even go to private schools!
Again Chris fails to ask why that is so. It's a pretty obvious deduction that smart people will in general be smart at making money too. So the smart parents of smart kids will be able to give the kids concerned comfortable homes and a good educational experience. That dastardly IQ is behind the high SES background of the more successful students too!
But no evidence or reasoning will have any impsct on our Chris. He is a rigid bigot who believes what he wants to believe and damn the evidence. That educational inequality must always be with us is incomprehensible to him. He is good at hate, though. Calling natural inequality "apartheid" is scurrilous. He is at best a buffoon
If we sat down 40-plus years ago to write a prescription for a social/academic apartheid system of schools operating on an unlevel playing field, we couldn’t have done it better. It is a structural oddity which has placed Australia as an outrider on the OECD stage.
In the process, it effectively discounted one of the key findings of the Gonski Review, something that seems to lie at the heart of our problems. This problem isn’t hard to find. Anyone can go to the My School website and easily discover that the NAPLAN results coming out of the schools tends to match the socioeconomic status (SES) of the students going in each day.
But there’s more. Gonski reported – and other research confirms – that the collective impact on student achievement comes even more from the SES of each student’s peers, than from their own family. In the world of schools, negative peer effects are associated with students from disadvantaged social backgrounds; positive effects with students from advantaged backgrounds.
Parents and teachers know about this peer effect and that knowledge drives our enrolment shift from low to higher SES schools. School principals certainly know, and competition between schools too often degenerates into an unseemly competition to get preferred students.
The combination of such peer impacts on student outcomes in an already segregated system of schools calls out for a review of how our school system is structured and what we should be doing to create a more inclusive system and socially diverse schools.