Australian politics, society & culture

Pedro de Almeida

Reading Catherine Ford’s plaintive tale of the ethical dilemma for parents who might support public schooling, but perhaps baulk when presented with the seductive rationalisation of NAPLAN scores and dinner-party anecdotes (‘Across the Great Divide’, April), reminds me that the less time and genuine engagement parents have with their kids the more we fall into the trap of expecting schools to do the hard bit: build character. Having an almost evangelical fear of mistakes, transgressions and grand stuff-ups is perhaps where parents go wrong.

Growing up in Sydney’s western suburbs in the 1990s I attended my local public school at a time when the attrition of bright students from my classroom for the allegedly greener fields of selective and private schools became more glaringly obvious year by year. I could never see why they bothered to travel over 30 kilometres to another school when there was one down the road with teachers who’d loan me Elvis Costello and The Jam on vinyl while teaching me something about Lear. And, thankfully, neither did my parents.

Pedro de Almeida

Marrickville, NSW