A decision to have any reference to special education in ethics removed from the enrolment form in public schools will narrow a parent’s right to choose.
The 1880 Public Instruction Act espoused the notion of free, compulsory and secular education for the students of NSW. Removing the reference to the availability of ethics classes as an alternative to religious instruction would mean parents would only be informed of ethics classes being available after they had opted out of special religious education (SRE). Currently the enrolment form gives the parents a choice: “Do you wish the student to attend Special Education in Ethics classes, if available at the school?”
Ethics classes are based on a program in ethical decision making, action and reflection within a secular framework, based on a branch of philosophy.
The NSW Premier denies proposing the removal of special education in ethics as an alternative to SRE is part of a deal with the Christian Democrats Party MP Fred Nile. Mr Baird’s government was reliant on the Christian Democrats Party’s support to pass the privatisation of the state’s poles and wires in the Legislative Council.
When making decisions about whether or not they want to enrol their children in religious education at school, parents should have all the information they require to make informed decisions that affect their children.