Inequality in Alice Springs education including the creation of an “elite” primary school – Ross Park – through geographic zoning is being targeted by Independent candidate for Braitling, Kim Hopper.
For example, she says Ross Park has the highest socio-educational advantage with Sadadeen at the opposite end of the scale.
Sadadeen receives vastly more government funding ($28,726 per student, NT and Federal combined) compared to Ross Park, $16,617 (2018 figures – see table).
“The school zones are dividing our community along racial and class lines, creating huge disparities in the educational outcomes of our children and resulting in segregation of our community,” says Ms Hopper (pictured, photo supplied), who, with her partner, runs a cafe and a coffee roasting and merchandising business.
“Reforming the school zones would give our community a chance to break down the racial divides in our town.
“We need to end the segregation that begins with our kids’ very first day of school. The zoning must be urgently and transparently addressed.”
In a comprehensive statement, quoting NT Government information which she says is on the public record, Ms Hopper points to huge discrepancies in five areas:–
• The Index of Community Socio-Economic Advantage (ICSEA) “which is a scale identifying the socio-educational advantage of a school. Key factors [are] in students’ family backgrounds (parents occupation, school education and non-school education).
• Language Background other then English.
• Federal funding.
• NT Government funding.
She is quoting in her release a parent, Steph Harrison, who raised these zoning issues in a report by the Alice Springs News in April 2018 (note the map in that report).
Says Ms Hopper: “The school zones don’t make geographical sense.
“A key example of this is where town camps have been excluded from a school they are closest to, and affluent suburbs that are located a further distance from the school are included in the zone.
“We have a situation where two schools, with only 1.5kms between them, have completely different student demographics.
“One school has mostly middle class white students, and the other predominantly Aboriginal students, from low income households.
“Both schools have fantastic educators dedicated to improving outcomes for all students, but the zoning system is a disservice to all.”
The News has invited the Minister for Education, Selena Uibo, to respond.
Minister Uibo says: “I understand the community concerns regarding the Alice Springs school priority enrolment areas and a review of school zones is underway.
“The Territory Labor Government believes all children deserve equal access to quality education, regardless of their location and circumstances, and we will continue to work to deliver this.”