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PM says State schools too "values neutral" for parents

Parents are moving their children out of government schools because the State system is "too politically correct and too values-neutral", according to Prime Minister John Howard in a news' story in The Age this morning.

The newspaper interviewed the Prime Minister on the weekend. Mr Howard was commenting on the fact that from 1999 to 2002, the number of full-time students attending non-government schools jumped more than 20 per cent, compared with a 1 per cent increase in government school enrolments.

The Prime Minister says in the interview:

"Some schools think you offend people by having nativity plays," Mr Howard said. "I think that it's a reflection of the extent to which political correctness overtook this country, particularly through the teaching unions, which I think are a bit out of step.

"People are looking increasingly to send their kids to independent schools for a combination of reasons. For some of them, it's to do with the values-driven thing; they feel that government schools have become too politically correct and too values-neutral."

"It used not to be the case. I'm a public schoolboy myself, my wife and I both went to state schools, we sent our children to state schools at a primary level."
The newspaper also reports that "Federal Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, is negotiating with independent private schools on a new four-year funding agreement, with the current contract expiring at the end of this year.

The Catholic schools sector, which exempted itself from the new funding arrangement in a deal with former education minister David Kemp, is also about to begin talks with Dr Nelson. Funding details will be released in the budget on May 11.

The Age - PM queries values of state schools

20 Jan 2004