by Denis Matson
Last night (19th August, 2009) about 170 people skipped dinner and found someone to care for the kids so that they could attend the High School for Coburg (HSC) forum at the Coburg Town Hall.
There is not one open-entry all-years high school between Brunswick Secondary College, which is bursting at the seams, and Box Forest College, miles away in Glenroy. The forum was a chance for parents in the area to exert pressure for the opening of a secondary school. While many parents want to have "choices" about the best school for their children, residents in & around Coburg don't have any choice.
Chris Bonnor, from University of New South Wales, made the trip to speak on the night. Chris is co-author of "The Stupid Country" about the dismantling of Australia's public education. He made a strong case for the government to improve its funding of public education and threw his weight behind the campaign.
Angry parents responded to ridiculous statements from the Education Department about there being "insufficient demand" for a school in the area. Cate Hall, from the HSC committee, said that there were already nearly 4,000 secondary-school aged children in & around Coburg who had to travel out of the area to go to school.
The forum was chaired by Rod Quantock and speakers included comedian and columnist Catherine Deveney and local identity Phil Cleary, all of whom went to school in the area. Ex-Education Minister, Barry Pullen spoke and added his support. Barry was heavily involved in the successful campaign to re-open Fitzroy High.
HSC representatives urged the large crowd to continue their vocal support for the campaign, which already has a subscriber list of more than 1,200 families. The HSC group has been lobbying the Education Minister, Bronwyn Pike, local politicians and the Education Department.