Confusing the evidence

Christopher Bounds, Canberra, Jul 21, 2023

Chris Bonnor argues that ‘It is always important that public debate on schools reflect what we know rather than what we’d like to believe.’

It’s a great shame that Bonnor undermined his otherwise excellent article by the use of an example which was not relevant to his thesis.

As a former school executive, I have no doubt that Ross Fox gilds the lily when claiming credit for improvements in educational outcomes in Canberra-Goulburn Catholic systemic schools result from the Catalyst program, and exaggerates the contribution of systemic schools in providing for students with behavioural and educational difficulties, perhaps to distract from his neglect of teacher pay and conditions.

But to use a comparison between Marist College and Melrose High as an example of the disparity between systems is just silly: Marist is not a system school under the control of Fox (it is one of the Territory’s wealthier independent schools), and Melrose High lies in an area of great socio-economic advantage.

A better comparison for Bonnor’s argument might have been to use schools in Tuggeranong Valley, and ensure that one was comparing apples with apples.

The situation between school sectors is not satisfactory, but this article just muddies the waters.

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