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In debating state versus private schooling, there has been criticism of the values that are taught in state schools. In this context it is suggested that careful consideration be given to:
There has been a growing debate about state versus private schooling - and particularly about the values that are taught in state schools.
This has arisen because federal funding for schools has (in the Commonwealth's view) been arranged to allow parents to have a choice between state and private schooling. Under this regime state school enrolments have been stagnant for the past decade, while private school enrolments have risen rapidly. This is widely seen to reflect parents' preference for the disciplined environments and traditional values taught in private schools , as parents rate moral philosophy as the most important reason for paying fees . 40% of secondary students now attend private schools .
At the same time claims have been made that state schools do not teach appropriate values .
An alternative view is that the shift from state to private education reflects the inadequate funding of state schools [1, 2] - which may be due to Australia's vertical fiscal imbalance . 2/3 of Commonwealth school funding is directed to private schools  - though this is presumably not the case for public funding of schools overall (which includes that by states for state schools). Moreover state schools have been seen as an essential element of society - with attacks on them being equivalent to erosion of universal health care and social welfare for the unemployed . Criticism has been seen as insulting to state schools, teachers and students .
It is also argued that the values taught in state schools are appropriate and reflect Australian norms.
Some 'middle ground' views are that:
The Federal education minister commissioned a study of values education - and this identified ten values to inculcate - tolerance and understanding; respect; responsibility; social justice; excellence; care; inclusion and trust; honesty; freedom and being ethical .
A researcher involved in that process concluded that (a) values need to be presented in the context of a supporting world-view (eg a religion) and (b) values taught have to be consistent with Australia's democratic system of government .
This document is only concerned with contextual issues which might usefully be considered in evaluating the values that are imparted through the education process - as the author has no sound basis for commenting on the benefits of state versus private schooling.
In order to understand the significance of what values are taught in schools it first useful to note that many debates about culture and values have emerged in Australia in recent years.
Four issues that might be given careful consideration is assessing the values taught in state schools are outlined below.
What does tolerance mean?
Tolerance and understanding of all people, is quite different to teaching that all ideas and cultures are equally valid and valuable, because:
Thus it is not valid to argue that 'tolerance' is always a positive value - because, if applied to ideas and cultures (as compared with its application to people), it may involve the endorsement of dysfunctional values.
Moreover the practical consequences of cultural assumptions need to be addressed in the way information is provided to students concerning various traditions. In particular:
It is because of issues like these that students need to be made aware of the consequences of cultural traditions at the same time that they are encouraged to understand them and objectively assess their relevance.
It is frequently asserted that the values taught in state schools need to be compatible with Australia's democratic system of government. Achieving this requires vigilance, because not all value systems are compatible with democratic traditions (see Spiritual and Philosophical Programs must be Compatible with Australia's Institutions). The latter also notes that not all value systems are compatible with Australia's egalitarian (social equality) aspirations.
Ensuring A Flexible Basis for Moral Interpersonal Relationships
Australia seems to suffer substantial social dysfunctions as a consequence of the widespread loss of the traditional ethical basis for interpersonal morality (see Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty).
'values' debate is of great practical significance - as it is vital that a
very solid ethical basis for interpersonal morality be established.
Such liberty seems possible only where:
This has far-reaching consequences, because:
Postmodernism: A Philosophical Over-reaction
with Serious Consequences
These theories challenge the validity of claims to real-world knowledge on the basis that such claims are, to a greater or lesser extent, a 'social construct' which have political implications (through reflecting what is advantageous to some groups). This view encourages:
The whole basis for criticism which is being levelled at values in the state schooling system seems to be based (to the extent that it has any validity) on these consequences of post-modern theories. Some of that critique makes specific reference to post-modern theory .
However post-modern theories have not only had an impact in education and there is now a significant body of experience to illustrated their deficiencies in other areas. An account of philosophical and real-world problems associated with the adoption of 'post modern' assumptions is presented in Eroding the West's Foundations. This refers, for example, to:
Extreme caution in endorsement of 'homosexual rights' may be warranted. This issue may be nowhere near as clear-cut as it has been popularly presented.
In fact public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which some groups apparently label 'homophilia' ) seems morally indefensible because it may (often unwittingly) involve: (a) giving tacit endorsement to past child abuse and neglect - which seems often to play a role in breeding 'gays'; and (b) facilitating future child sex abuse.
The problem is that:
If the above claim that homosexual behaviour is an emotional / addictive affliction in many / most cases is valid, then it makes no more sense to either: (a) try to prevent it by law; or (b) endorse it as a 'right relationship', than would be be the case for anorexia nervosa.
A Parallel? It was suggested (by a prominent US psychiatrist) that transgenderism (ie a perception that one's real sexuality is different to one's biological sexuality - which differs from, but is presumably not unrelated to, same sex attraction) is a mental disorder that merits treatment. It is seen as a disorder similar to anorexia nervosa which can lead to grim psychological outcomes. 70-80 percent of children who express transgender feelings were suggested to spontaneously lose those feelings over time. Providing 'sex education' which suggests that their situation is normal was seen to lead to severe problems for transgender children. 
Also some US and New Zealand studies indicate that between the ages of 16 and 26 some 80% of same-sex attracted boys and girls become opposite-sex attracted as adults. If this is so, then the common claim that sexual attraction is unchangeable is a myth (see Ritch C Savin-Williams and Geoffrey L Ream, “Prevalence and stability of sexual orientation components during adolescence and young adulthood”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 36, Issue 3, June 2007, pp 385 394 and N Dickson, C Paul and P Herbison, “Same-sex attraction in a birth cohort: Prevalence and persistence in early adulthood”, Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 56, April 2003, pp 1607–1615).
Moreover, if apparently-informed-observers' claims about the widespread incidence of child sexual abuse are valid (ie that sexual abuse might impact 12% of boys and 25% of girls) and if child abuse is a major factor in the breeding of 'gays' (as suggested above), then the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour as 'normal' would constitute belated and morally-indefensible endorsement of the neglect or abuse of children by adults who were supposed to be caring for them. Also if suggestions (op cit) that sexual abuse tends to arise in situations where children live with adults who are not their biological parents, then the breakdown of traditional lifelong marriages (which leads to the the emergence of blended families) would be a contributing factor to both large numbers of sexually-abused children and 'gay' adults.
There is a massive reluctance by the general community in Australia (and by governments on their behalf) to seriously investigate either the widespread incidence of child sexual abuse in the community or wither it is valid to claim that there is nothing wrong with homosexual behaviour given the relationship between such claims and the abuse and neglect of children (see Public Policy Complexities in About Child Sexual Abuse).
Furthermore, if the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour makes children more vulnerable to sexual abuse, there must be some uncertainty about the motives for supporting homosexual 'rights' by adults in institutions and non-biological families where children are most at risk of sexual abuse. Also the existence of unproven (yet not implausible) indicators of involvement in child sexual abuse by some with official roles that potentially allow them to stifle attempts to investigate anything that would raise public awareness / concerns about child sexual abuse can also be noted.
Finally it is noted that the Judeo-Christian scriptures (the traditional guidebook on morality in Western societies, that is now increasingly regarded this way worldwide) does not seem to endorse homosexual behaviour anywhere - quite the reverse in fact.