To the family and friends of St Edmund’s College,
Last week the Federal Government announced that there would be in fact no significant decrease to the funding of Catholic and independent schools (as was originally the case with the former leadership). This news is very welcome and quite a relief. There has been however quite a deal of misinformation and criticism about the funding of non-government schools since the announcement.
In addressing this misinformation, Catholic Schools NSW chief Dallas McInerney has released the following: “The average cost of a school education in Australia, based on spending in government schools is about $13,000 per student per year. This would be a huge cost for parents to cover on their own, especially if they have two or more children. So State and Federal governments jointly help all school sectors to some degree – independent, Catholic and government. Governments fund the total cost for all students in all government schools.
It doesn’t matter if the students are from rich or poor … if you send your child to a government school, the total cost is funded by taxpayers. As it should be. That’s not the case with non-government schools. All non-government schools (except some highly disadvantaged schools) have their government funding reduced according to a means test of the school’s parents. Non-government schools that educate children from wealthier areas therefore attract less government funding than those from lower-income areas. As it should be.
The new funding arrangements announced last Thursday deal with the size and distribution of the minority share of funding that is provided to non-government schools. It does not affect funding for government schools, because parents who send their children to government schools do not have their incomes assessed for funding purposes. All government schools will continue to be fully funded by taxpayers, irrespective of family wealth or advantage.”
The truth about the funding of non-government schools is this – if St Edmund’s College did not receive government funding we would have to close our doors. It is as simple as that. There would be no Plan B. We could raise fees to cover the entire cost of running the College, but with fees raised to such an exorbitant amount we would not be serving the needs of our community and we would, in fact, have a community who could not meet such high fees. It is a shame that those outside of our community and with little knowledge and understanding of the vast differences in educational institutions tend to group all independent schools together as if they are one and the same. We may be an independent school in name, but we are certainly not in the same category as many other independent schools in Australia (or in Canberra for that matter). I pray that there is some sense of calm and sensibility in this debate and that schools of all types are able to continue to serve in their mission to their respective communities.
The many falsehoods in the school funding debate came to mind even as I sat in Mass on Sunday. The Second Reading from the letter of St James (James 3:16 – 4:3) perfectly summed up my frustrations with the misinformation about school funding and highlights why such misinformation and falsehood exists:
Wherever there are jealousy and ambition, there are also disharmony and wickedness of every kind; whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it is also peaceable, kindly and considerate; it is full of mercy and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. The peace sown by peacemakers brings a harvest of justice. Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Is it not precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you lack it; so you kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. It is because you do not pray that you do not receive; when you do pray and do not receive, it is because you prayed wrongly, wanting to indulge your passions.
The ACT Government has apparently made a change to some of its planned cuts to school bus services proposed under its new public transport network. According to news reports, the Transport Minister said at least half of the school bus routes it had planned to remove would be restored. Unfortunately (and as usual), this information has not been specifically communicated to schools so we are as yet unaware of which of the St Edmund’s services have been affected.
This week we welcomed back our students and teachers from the Darwin/Tiwi Islands Immersion Experience and thank them for their wonderful work in providing spiritual retreats for the students of the local schools in those communities. Many thanks to Mr Michael Monagle, Mr Tom Zinkel, Mr Sam Stubbs, Gerard Teng (Old Boy 2017) and students Aryan Sachdeva, James Tually, Justin Teng, Lachlan Hayes and Matthew Brown.
We also farewelled this week our teachers and students who commenced the India Immersion Experience. This two week immersion experience aims to build meaningful relationships with individual people and communities by way of an extended period of visitation and by returning to the same community we signify a longer and evolving term of commitment. We assist with the education of the poor or those on the margins in these communities and in doing so prepare our students to ‘speak for the poor’ throughout their lives. Our best wishes to Mrs Leonie Owens, Mr Matthew Calder, Mr Joel Richardson and students Jackson Burns, Sam Daniher, Eamon McCoola, Lachlan McLeod, Jack Alexander and Ben Stonehouse.
As we come to the end of Term 3, I wish to thank all members of the St Edmund’s community for your support of the College and especially for your support of our students. It is so nice to be slowly moving out of the cold weather (my first Canberra winter has been quite brutal!) and into the warmth of spring. I wish all of our students and their families a safe and happy holiday break and look forward to seeing you all again at the commencement of Term 4 relaxed, refreshed and renewed, ready to enter our last term for the year.
Thank You Lord for the times of refreshment and opportunities to be on holiday,
so that we may be renewed in body, soul and spirit.
Lord, we particularly thank You for this spring holiday time
and pray that You would be with us as we spend time away from the hustle and bustle of the school day and take time to rest awhile.
Lord it was You who reminded Your own disciples that they needed to take times of refreshment from the stresses and strains of the day,
and we thank You for this opportunity to enjoy different and new experiences.
May our time away from school be one of warmth and love and filled with fun and fellowship.
May our hearts overflow with Your joy and peace and may we fill our lungs with laughter.
Watch over our journey as we travel and protect us from all difficulties and dangers. May we rest in You and return refreshed in body, soul and spirit to Your praise and glory.
Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts, forever.
Christus Lux Mea
Joe Zavone (College Principal)