Not only a budget deficit, but a deficit in communication
Recently the Education Minister Sue Ellery was a guest on the ABC Radio Focus program. School children from Moora in years 5 and 6 rang in to ask the Minister questions about the closing of the Moora residential college.
The children aired their concerns about WA Labor’s decision not to allocate the necessary funding to keep Moora residential college open. Ultimately, this is a decision about the just allocation of state resources.
Issues of justice/social justice/distributive justice are vitally important, particularly as justice leads to sustainable peace within communities. The second Vatican Council affirms that “[p]eace is not merely the absence of war… Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of justice” (http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html). Equally important, Pope Benedict Emeritus taught that “justice is inseparable from charity, and intrinsic to it” (http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate.html).
Having asked how the government can justify its allocation of resources, the children were deflated by the answers the Minister gave in response. Walking back to class with them I heard them telling their teacher that the Minister “did not answer our questions” and that she was “very good at changing the subject.”
I think that not only is there a budget deficit, but a deficit in communication WA Labor are contending with.
I asked the class to write down their impressions of this experience. Note that the author of this blog has not listened to the Focus program and has made assumptions about the children's questions. Their responses are very real ...
Some of the comments
"Maybe we can tell God how we feel and give our worries to Him.” This was my reply to the 40 students sitting listening so attentively to the ABC radio this morning. I could see, in such a tiny frame of time, the defeat Sue Ellery’s answers caused. The look of total shock in so many students’ eyes made my heart sink when they turned and looked at me after they heard her reply with an answer that they knew was not true. After talking about the feelings they had and reflecting on the inside feelings I decided they should write them down and give them to God. The others we have placed in the Prayer Jar. By Teacher
I don’t like what Mrs Ellery did when she was talking on the radio. It felt like she was saying it to me when she lied. It made me feel awful. A person who I was excited to listen to as I am supposed to look up to her lied on the radio and everyone could hear her. The feelings inside me are unexplainable. I just feel hurt. By student
Mrs Ellery does not know how much disrespect I have now for people like her. She lied and I thought she was a good person because she is a minister and really high up. By student.
This was terrible. We should look up to Mrs Ellery. She told a lie and she is the education minister. I felt betrayed and really let down. Why isn’t she keeping open the Residential College for us? By student.
Sue Ellery is a person I am meant to look up to. But I don’t want to anymore. I cannot believe that she didn’t answer any of the questions we asked. We should be able to trust adults. Clearly even ministers cannot be trusted. Yesterday, if she had walked into my classroom I would have felt excited and been friendly. If she came today I would not be rude but I would not really care or want her to talk to me. She made me feel really upset and scared about my high school. I like school and I want to have an amazing one. I want people to know that she is not really good and show some empathy. By student.
When I heard the lady on the radio it made me feel kind of lots of funny things like annoyed, sad and really unhappy inside. Why didn’t she tell the truth and answer the questions? By student.
When Mrs Ellery started talking we were excited at first. We were getting our questions answered and no one had answered us so far. This time our questions were getting read out aloud. But she didn’t answer them. She didn’t tell the truth and it felt like it was to me. How am I supposed to look up to her? By student.
What Mrs Ellery said when she was on the radio felt horrible. I stayed in with all my friends because we wanted to know what is going to happen and if we can have school still in Moora to live at. I felt really bad as Mrs Watson said that she might answer our questions. I am so sad about what she said. It was all wrong and didn’t tell us why because she is in the government and she is on the side of the government people making people close the boarding part. It kind of really hurt me inside. By student.
I gave up my playtime to listen and hear what you had to say. I felt cranky and hurt. Not only did you not tell the right kind of money you still think it has got to be closed. We wrote letters from our heart so I would be a little happy if she will actually read them. But I don’t think she will now anymore. You did hear the questions but you didn’t answer them. By student.
Sue Ellery has done all of us a great deal of injustice. Not just to the town but to all the kids in surrounding towns and to herself. I was disgusted When she dodged every question we sent. We gave up our recess for her because this cut is going to affect us the most. Yet we don’t get a say at all! I feel very deflated about decisions being made and I am worried for what will be my education in the future. She is hiding the truth and I am very let down. By student.
I am really disappointed that Mrs Ellery didn’t change even try to answer the questions and then I just got confused because I was trying to hear what she had to say but I got lost because it didn’t make sense what things she said about education. By student.
I feel betrayed and in danger. You are untrusted and unworthy of the position you hold. I gave up my recess to listen in hope. How can I and anybody in Moora respect you when you say things like that? By student.
Comments on the blog (as Simplesite is limited, I can directly post comments sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Like so many people, I, too, have been horrified by our Government's short-sighted decisions to close educational facilities. I am from Geraldton originally and now live in Perth. These cuts do not affect me directly as a result. Needless to say, we are all in this together and my family is doing what we can with writing letters and attending rallies.
I have just read your blog regarding the students' comments and my heart has broken. To witness the worst in our leaders at such a young and vulnerable age. These young people are better and far more wise than many adults. They are our future and we need to nurture them.
Know that our thoughts and prayers are with all concerned. We will keep up the good fight.
God bless you all
Children are great teachers. They see the truth where so many do not. The student who commented about Ms Ellery being "very good at changing the subject" hit the nail on the head! There's no pulling the wool over these kids' eyes!
Children are good judges of character and they appear to sum up the Education Minister very well. In a nutshell they don’t trust her or what she had to say. Telling lies is not good