Stop Attacking Independent and Catholic School Teachers

Yesterday I spoke with a teacher who confessed he won’t identify himself as a Catholic school teacher online because of the criticism he believes he will receive. This is a teacher with a lot to offer and who does much to support the professional growth of others. His fears aren’t unfounded. Last year, when a Catholic School teacher took over the reigns of EduTweetOz for a week, some public education activists ripped into her, simply because she worked for a Catholic school.

I’ve seen it numerous times – and activists, you’re not doing the cause any good. Advocating for a better system is one thing, attacking those who work in a different system is quite another. All you do is lose people’s respect. You’ve lost mine. Stop trolling teachers and start talking constructively to the people who can make a difference at a system level..

It’s difficult to find work and we take what we can find. Being at an independent, Catholic or public school doesn’t change the reason we come to work. We all are doing our best to ensure that current and future generations of children are receiving the best quality education we can provide. No teacher should be made to feel ashamed of doing that.

Anyone who’s followed me for a while will know that I’m a vocal advocate for public schools.  I want to see a strong and robust public school system. I believe that all children should have access to an excellent education regardless of their postcode.

There are serious issues facing us. Successive government funding policies and a hostile media have made residualisation a real fear. I don’t like the damage these policies are doing to public schools.

I question the wisdom of a society which encourages groups to segregate along financial, religious and cultural lines. If a school was to separate its students into areas for Christians, Muslims and Jews, for rich and for poor, and wouldn’t let them mix, there would be an outcry.

But blaming and trolling teachers working in independent and Catholic schools for the damage that successive government policies have done to our system is pretty stupid. It’s like holding me responsible for Tony Abbott. I live in this country, I vote, but please don’t blame me for Tony Abbott.

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13 thoughts on “Stop Attacking Independent and Catholic School Teachers

  1. Very true and a great post to hopefully provoke some thought in others. Ultimately, we’re all colleagues who do the same job and have many of the same challenges (and successes), regardless of where or in what sector we teach. I was talking to a colleague at a Catholic school recently who was tired of the misconception that students at her school were all handpicked and didn’t come from a rainbow of demographic backgrounds. At the end of the day, we all teach and should be supporting and encouraging each other, not tearing each other down.

  2. Unfortunately, I think some public school advocates blame catholic and independent school teachers for the increase in funding to private schools and see this as being at the expense of public school funding. As you point out, not the individual teachers in each system’s fault. It’s not even the fault of each system. Trolling does not do the cause of public education any favours. We are all striving to get the best outcomes for our students. And we would never blame a child for misdeeds of the parents. Why blame teachers for the decisions of our government?

    • Thanks for commenting Jen. You’re right, trolling does us no favours. If anything, it just increases the divide. This ‘you’re either with us or against us’ thinking hardly encourages people to work together for the common good.

  3. Rand says:

    I think it’s very important to realize that the press, willfully or not, I’m not sure, sets up ideological dichotomies, such as Catholic verus non-Catholic, on the basis of a few essentialized differences. While we may actually differ on these issues, there is an overwhelming number of issues we agree on. I wish we as citizens and voters could manage to get a bit of nuance back.

  4. Sally Robertson says:

    Bravo, Corinne!

    I was left rather dumbstruck by a seemingly innocuous question from a senior educator yesterday who asked me, as a pre-service teacher, which teaching system I aligned with. This threw me, as I had never envisaged that given the educational status-quo in Australia, I should be forced to align with one over another. Without question, all students should be afforded equal access to the same high calibre of resources, including teachers AND funding. However, my fidelity as a teacher will foremost be to my future students, be they a part of the Catholic, independent, or public system.

    Passion is neither bound nor defined by one particular educational system.

    A special shout-out of “thanks” to the Catholic teacher you spoke with yesterday 🙂

  5. Nick says:

    Thanks for this post Corinne.

    Regardless of the ethos of the school, the teacher should be judged solely on their ability to help their students learn. Our decision to work in a particular school should based on experience, staff, resources or community among other essential elements of the school. The decision that I, or any of my colleagues makes should be of no consequence. Judge on my teaching, not my school.

  6. Thanks for this Corinne. Some of our fellow education “professionals” should be ashamed of themselves. As a recent migrant to Australia, I was a bit bemused by the education system here. In Scotland, the vast majority of schools are government run & funded (including Catholic) with only a handful of Independent schools in each city and some rural areas. I taught in “comprehensive” government schools in Scotland and taught in a government school in the Western Metropolitan Region of Melbourne for my first two years here. I now find myself teaching in an Independent Catholic Boys school – does that qualify me for three loads of abuse? I applied for this job because I was attracted to the specific role and the new challenges that it offered. It turns out to be a nice place to work and, low and behold, the teachers are just the same kind of humans as everywhere else I’ve taught and the teenage boys I teach are, well, teenage boys! The challenges pressures and expectations (on teachers and students) are different – not necessarily easier or harder – just different. For better or worse, the common bond that we all have across the sectors is our passion for the development of children and our drive to do the best by those who sit in front of us. I don’t know what those doing the attacking want the teachers in other sectors to do? I think it probably says more about their own insecurities and frustrations than anything else.
    That’s my “tuppence worth”!

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