A summary of the situation for media, friends, and letters to editors
New plan to put children in skyscrapers
Five weeks ago, without any consultation, the Labor Opposition in WA suddenly announced “Education Central“. They would be moving students at Perth Modern school to a 16 – 25 storey skyscraper in 2020 whether they wanted it or not.
In the plan, children as young as 11 will be in an office tower sandwiched between the CBD and the late-night pubs and drugs district of Perth. The site is next to the central railway station, in the most congested real estate in a radius of 2,500km. The school will have no oval and no trees, unless they get one to grow on the roof. This will be the only public school in Australia where no child will ever be able to kick an AFL football, though they will be closer to prostitutes. 😉
Sue Ellery, the Shadow Minister for Education, promises green space on every floor and on the roof. Since five-star hotels in Perth cannot afford to do that, parents wonder how the Department of Education can. (A pot plant in every corner?)
There is a genuine need for another school in Perth, and a demographic squeeze is coming. But this experimental multiuse complex (with Scitech at the base) needs to be finished in just 2 years 8 months. Let’s call it the Tower of Babylon, but the joke is not so funny. Perth needs a school in the western suburbs but they are all safe Liberal seats on 20% margins. Instead of reopening a school to the west, Labor thinks it will give the high-reputation Perth Modern school site to the local inner city catchment which is a long way from the beachside area, but is close to voters in the seat of Perth. (A seat held by the Liberals on a 2.8% margin). Labor claim that’s where the growth is. But Education Department enrollment figures for 2016 show that the high schools in the western suburbs grew around ten times faster than the school closest to the inner north.
In other words it’s not about education but about political expediency. Who cares about the kids!?
Politicians kept the plans hidden from Perth Mod families until the election campaign. Parents are up in arms and opposed, concerned about mental health risks, fitness, obesity, and the likelihood of permanent eyesight damage. Not to mention the loss of the school community, the grounds, and the history.
Former graduates of the school include Bob Hawke, Kim Beasley, Daryl Williams, Malcolm McCusker and John Stone. The Modernians are wonderfully supportive and donate money and provide scholarships for the lower income students. Those funds are tied to the current location for historical reasons. Take that great community and wreck it?
In a crisis meeting on Tuesday some parents invited politicians from all parties to an information night. It included the current Education Minister and State Treasurer, a representative from the Greens and an independent. Disappointingly Labor was a No Show to explain it’s flagship educational policy.
It will set a new precedent if it goes ahead. If the new tower school doesn’t need trees or fields, does any school? If you want to build a pub next to a high school, why not?
“Every hour 1,500 students get up and move. I was told you would have to have elevators like they have on aircraft carriers”.
There are no playing fields, and there’s no parking. Are you going to want your 12 year old to wait by the train station, next to Northbridge, at 5pm at night?”