The Ethics Trial is being evaluated and there should a decision soon. Here's hoping.
I want to address the concerns raised by the groups who object to the ethics class.
Would the Anglicans be happy if the same course was run under the name 'Humanist Philosophy?'
I don't wonder at Catholics questioning how to determine right from wrong without reference to the bible - that's the point of the class. I believe the course would explore how we know right from wrong, through asking a series of questions. It is about the children working out answers for themselves. Or working through a process of thinking, without finding answers, but acknowledging that such processes can be complex.
The churches complain that they were not consulted. It isn't about them. That's the point. It is about redressing the current discrimination which, by policy, a policy written in conjunction with the churches, means that children who are not attending scripture class are not allowed to learn anything in that timeslot. That is discrimination. It would be discrimination if it were by gender, by nationality, by religion.
What are they so afraid of?
Judgment day looms for verdict on ethics classes pilot
September 7, 2010
The future of the controversial pilot of ethics classes in NSW schools is in the hands of an independent evaluator who will deliver her verdict this month.
Dr Sue Knight, an academic at the University of South Australia, is wading through submissions from religious organisations including Presbyterian Youth and the Sydney diocese of the Anglican church, and Cardinal George Pell and Bishop Peter Ingham on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Education Department officials and representatives of the Parents and Citizens' Association have had face-to-face interviews with Dr Knight. The state government is set to base its decision on Dr Knight's report.
The general manager of Presbyterian Youth, Murray Norman, complained that there was a lack of transparency with the trial and said it was difficult to obtain information about it.
The Anglican submission argued confusion was created by labelling the lessons ''ethics'' when the classes were in fact focused on the process of philosophical inquiry and did not give ethical or moral instruction.
As a consequence the trial was flawed and should not be used as the basis for introducting a permanent ethics program in schools, the Anglicans said. If the government wanted to continue with a parallel program of non-religious instruction in the scripture hour, a trial of "humanist philosophy" should be undertaken.
The Catholic Church submission criticised the implementation process for the trial, its content and its ''inadequacies in providing students with a clear framework for discussing and making decisions about what is right and wrong'', a spokesman, Jude Hennessy, said.
The Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools noted in its submission the apology of the Education Minister, Verity Firth, ''regarding the lack of consultation with any SRE [special religious education] stakeholders prior to the introduction of the lessons''.
Ms Firth visited Crown Street Public yesterday and was given a book of feedback from year 5 and 6 students who have attended the ethics class this year.
Student comments were overwhelmingly positive, said Lesley Holden, the ethics co-ordinator at the school.
''There was so much noise about it in the media I was concerned that what was actually happening in the pilot … there was no way that the children doing the course could be heard.''
Ms Firth said if the trial was approved as a continuing program it would be on equal footing with the religious education classes in the same time slot.