Publication Details

Ashbolt, A, Quality education for all: state aid is still the issue, New Matilda, online policy issue, 27 November 2006. Copy available here.


The fundamental measure of education in all spheres is its contribution to a democratic society. To ensure that the Australian education system creates what Benjamin Barber calls ‘an aristocracy of everyone', we need grand spending plans. We also need to embark on a mission to rescue the public education system, which has been sidelined during our years of transferring funds to private schools. The public realm and the importance of education within it was a critical foundation stone of the fledgling Australian state. The same is also true of the USA, where even someone with residual monarchist tendencies like John Adams could still acknowledge that ‘a passion for the public good' is ‘superior to all private passions'. To put it another way, democracy cannot be propelled by private instincts and preferences alone - it is dependent upon informed public sentiment and desire. In John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and some of the other founding fathers, we see the beginnings of a ‘powerful linkage between democracy, public citizenship and public education for all' that ‘formed the cornerstone of schooling.'