Thank you for the Byron Shire Echo editorial last week strongly opposing impending changes to the way Ethics classes are to be offered to children in NSW schools.
The struggle to have the classes allowed in schools was long and hard-fought and the program is still vulnerable to the unethical manipulations of the state government by Fred Nile and the Religious Right.
The latest move is to enforce a recommendation that parents only be informed about the option of ethics classes after they have answered a question about what religion their child is.
Only those parents who opt out of scripture classes are then offered Ethics classes, effectively deceiving people about the option of ethics.
At the moment the system is to offer Ethics along with scripture – on an equal footing – at the beginning of the year thus making it available to all parents, regardless of their religious leanings.
This proposed recommendation is against the spirit of the legal changes of 2010 which specifically provided that ethics classes were to be allowed in government schools as an alternative to scripture.
This is a clear statement of a democratic right and the taxpayers who pay for public schools have the right to know what classes are available for their children.
I have been involved in the teaching of ethics at Byron Primary since its inception in 2010 and have seen support of the classes grow at all levels. The kindergarten class this year is now overflowing!
I feel privileged to have been able to deliver a curriculum that encourages critical thinking and exchange of opinions.
It’s like feeling a fresh breeze stream across the field of learning blowing away the cobwebs of the Middle Ages.
I agree with Echo editor Hans Lovejoy when he says if ethics lessons were an established part of the school learning experience then over time they would ‘transcend fear’ and give a useful guide to ‘navigate through modern life’ and even do a tiny bit towards helping to create a ‘universal moral compass’.
Those wanting to comment on this issue could go to the petition running at: https://www.change.org/p/nsw-premier-mike-baird-don-t-change-the-school-enrolment-form-
Christine Willmot, Sunrise