Jacqui Tomlins posted an excellent piece (republished on this site) called “Without Jesus, our students are lost“. I read it with interest because of my recent interaction with my son’s school, Hawthorn West Primary School on the topic of SRI. I strongly recommend you read Jacqui’s piece first.
Now of course we know that SRI or Special Religious Instruction is mandated in Victorian legislation and if requested by god botherers a school must allow them in for 30 minutes a week. This infuriates me on so many levels – but what can I do as a parent?
Unless you are one of the lucky few who have schools blessedly free of the toxic poison that is SRI, you are forced to confront it. Unfortunately, many people just bury their head in the sand about it. This parent however isn’t one for burying any part of his anatomy in the sand!
Here are my tips on how to deal with SRI in your school. I have used them all in my dealings with my son’s primary school.
It is Special Religious Instruction, or SRI for short. That is it. That is what the Victorian legislation states it is. Do not allow you school to refer to it as “Special Religious EDUCATION” or “Christian Religious EDUCATION”. It is not education it is “instruction”. Or if we are being honest about it, it is really indoctrination. Demand that your school refer only to it as SRI in all literature and language used. It is insulting to the trained and qualified educators at the school, the real teachers, to have SRI referred to as “education”. Remind your principal that they must adhere to the language of the legislation.
Write to your school and instruct them that under no circumstances is you child to have any contact or communication with the SRI volunteer. There must be no conversation, discussion, transfer of printed material from the “volunteer” to your child. Insist that the school guarantee that your child is not placed in the back of a class of SRI or within hearing or visual contact with the SRI class. The school has a duty to ensure that this does not happen and do not accept excuses such as “well we don’t have enough staff” etc. Again, remind them of their responsibilities under the legislation.
Talk to other parents and let them know your view and actions. Sure, some will see nothing wrong with SRI being taught. But you need to let them know that you do have a problem with it.
Talk to your school council about it. Tell them your views and ensure that they are being proactive in adhering to the legislative requirements.
Ensure that the permission forms sent out are fair and accurate. I noticed that ours was worded in such a way that parents would inadvertently find themselves signing their children up for SRI. Make sure the forms have TWO option. A “Will Allow” and “Will Not Allow” option.
Contact your local state member and candidates and find out their views. Let them know that if they support SRI in the classroom of secular schools, then they do not have your vote. This is what the fundies do. You must do it as well. Don’t expect everyone else to do something. It is your child. If you believe SRI is wrong in a secular education system – stand up for your belief. Whinging about SRI but not being prepared to take a stand about it simply makes you complicit in its continuation.
Be vigilant. When you have parent/teacher meetings bring up the issue of SRI and let your child’s teacher know your feelings and make sure they are very clear on the points above. Make sure you also have a 1 on 1 meeting with your principal to discuss this issue.
You should also ensure that your school signs up to the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV). Whilst not directly related to SRI – it will help counter the bigotry and hatred the ACCESS SRI volunteers bring into the secular school system. See my post here.
Our family takes the incursion of SRI in to the secular education of our children very seriously. It is not a benign subject. It is a coersive, anti-intellectual, anti-logic attack on secularism. It is a recruitment drive by the religious who want to convert young children. It is nothing more than indoctrination. The sooner it is removed from the secular school system the better. Grassroots action, local action has to be part of the solution. And it is something that every parent who is concerned about the incursion of this toxic indoctrination into a secular school system can do something about.