There’s a lot of news about disgusting behaviour in Federal politics at the moment, most of it aimed at other politicians. But I want to take a moment to bring your attention to something at a Queensland state level – the disgusting act of an Education Minister criticising the parenting of people he is supposed to serve – using his power and position to bully them.
The Queensland State Government, under Campbell Newman, recently made a decision that they would close 9 schools in Queensland. Some of these decisions simply don’t make sense. Fortitude Valley, just outside of Brisbane City, is a small school, but right in the middle of a massive growth area with the building of apartments nearby. Furthermore, the 2 nearby schools which the students will be expected to go to – New Farm and Brisbane Central – are both at capacity. Brisbane Central (where I went as a child) simply does not have any more room for students, while there’s talk that temporary classrooms will be put in at New Farm (another growth area) to house the numbers.
So these kids have nowhere to go, they’re in a school growing in numbers, but they’re told that their school is going to close.
I’m not sure if it’s the same in every school, but in my experience, children can be pretty protective of their schools. I remember the hard work students did in student councils to improve their school facilities. I remember the pride of a child when I let him know I went to the same school as him, and he told me about recent refurbishments. Children care about what happens in their schools. So when they’re told that their school is closing, they would be likely to want to do something.
So yesterday, the Fortitude Valley P and C organised a protest outside the school. It was held on a wide footpath, with plenty of parents and adults around as well as the children who are facing losing their school. It was a great example of teaching children about democracy and civic values – that we have the right to protest peacefully in this country.
Except if you’re a child, obviously. Because the Education Minister of Queensland – John-Paul Langbroek came out and said that he didn’t think it was ‘appropriate’ for children to be protesting for something which directly affects them. He says they are ‘consulting’, but it’s pretty clear from his dismissal of children, that he’s not interesting in ‘consulting’ with them – making sure that they have to protest to be heard. He went on to criticise the parents of these children for involving them, dismissing it as ‘union-led hysteria’. (Watch the ABC clip here)
As a minister, John-Paul Langbroek is in a position of power. And to use that power to criticise someone else’s parenting – to effectively ask them to shut up and sit down, and for goodness sakes don’t let anyone know that there are children involved – is bullying. Putting someone else down and trying to curtail their political rights – even when they’re a child – is bullying.
The parents of Fortitude Valley State School are good parents. They’re standing up for their rights and teaching their children that they can be involved in society – that they can be informed, interested people. The children of Fortitude Valley are active and interested. They have the right to be heard. Don’t let the government bully them – go and Like their Facebook Page, add your message of support, share the information so others can get behind them.
Good parents deserve good community support.