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PM's comments on public schools causing sharp response

There has been a sharp reaction in all of the Australian media today to the Prime Minister's comments yesterday on State schools being too "politically correct and values-neutral". Our detailed report endeavours to provide an overview.

Teachers unions, parents' organisations and rival political parties have been highly vocal in condemning the Prime Minister's observations. The Prime Minister, in further comments though, appears unapologetic and other members of the government have supported the Prime Minister's position. So far there does not seem to have been any comment from Catholic sources – which is not surprising or expected given the contentious nature of this debate and the potential implications of a full-blown national debate for Catholic education, which is the largest education provider outside of the State education systems.

As many involved in Catholic education will be interested in the progress of this debate we provide the following links and headlines in an attempt to provide some overview of the tenor of the national discussion. A number of media commentators and editorials are suggesting education is looming as a major federal election issue.

The Australian – Schools stand up for their values
The Australian – Editorial: The crisis in public schools
The Age – Private, public schools hit out at PM's 'values' claim
SMH – Backlash over PM's attack on public schools
SMH – Howard's extra value spiel unpalatable for some
SMH – Rankings for schools misleading, say experts
SMH – Editorial: Values learnt in schools
West Australian – Teachers anti-Australian, says Minister
Sydney Daily Telegraph – Editorial: Educated decisions
Brisbane Courier Mail – Howard's criticism of state schools sparks backlash
Courier Mail – Editorial: Public schools fail Howard's test
Melbourne Herald-Sun – Schools say Howard's a snob
Herald-Sun – Schools say Howard's a snob
Hobart Mercury – PM 'a snob, bigot' on schools
Adelaide Advertiser – Howard attack on schools `desperate'
Adelaide Advertiser – Editorial: Dumb actions for a clever country
NineMSN News – PM challenged to back up school claims
ABC News – PM sparks debate on public school values

21 Jan 2004