Did you read about the boy who may lose hearing in one ear because a Melbourne Grammar boy threw an egg at him during a muck-up prank gone wrong? Did anyone else feel sickened but at the same time not at all surprised when the principal of Melbourne Grammar said in an interview: “[The injured boy’s mother] asked for help because . . . her son was not able to gain access to a surgeon. I was able to, through contacts, get him an appointment with a surgeon the very next day.”
Through contacts – those were the words that made me sick. Through contacts. How kind and noble it was for the important man from the privileged school to help the boy less fortunatethrough contacts.
Through contacts – those were the words that made me sick. Through contacts. How kind and noble it was for the important man from the privileged school to help the boy less fortunate through contacts.
What’s astonishing is the stunning lack of insight those two little words revealed. What does it say about a school when the principal brags about queue-jumping? Through contacts. Celebrating a two-tiered health system that leaves one person to wait in pain simply because they have less money.
What kind of values does a school have to acknowledge an inherently unjust system and brag they can rort it? What’s the school motto? ”Who you know. Through contacts”, ”Meeting the right people. Not those wrong people.” Perhaps its mission statement is: ”It’s not through merit people will be rewarded, nor the society being one of equity we want to promote. We are committed to reinforcing discriminatory hereditary privilege and attracting insecure parents who tragically use the school their child attends as social currency. We suck in parents with fear, dazzle them with hype and comfort them with social apartheid, gender segregation and elitism.”
PRIVATE SCHOOL VALUES TWO
Last year I wrote about a private school contacting me to mentor one of its year nine students for its ”year nines are privately mentored by professional writers” part of its sales platform.
When I asked what the fee was, they said I was the first to ask and they hadn’t thought about payment. (Their school values did not extend to paying people to increase their company’s profitability but did extend to attempting to covertly shame people for asking to be paid for what they do.) I explained I was happy to do charity for charities, but I couldn’t afford to work free for businesses. Long story, but in short I suggested a $200 donation to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre as payment.
I mentored a student and it was fabulous.
The school approached me again this year and I agreed to the same terms. I had contact with the young lad, he was bright and keen, and we were looking forward to working together. Before we got down to work, I asked the school to send me confirmation of last year’s donation.
The contact stopped dead. Countless emails and phone calls and I haven’t heard from the school or the student since. That was three months ago. I called the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre. It had received no donation from the school. Ever. The school is now building a new wing that looks like a project by Denton Corker Marshall.
A high-profile Australian writer told me he was approached via his publisher by the same private school. When the publicist asked about a fee, the English co-ordinator responded: ”I’ve not considered a payment, to be honest. The only person who has asked for payment in the past has been Catherine Deveny (GREEDY BITCH) and we (WE? YOU MEAN I) managed to come to a settlement involving a donation to charity.”
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