It's a bit rich
PUBLIC school parents and students have attacked Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's school computer program after the first free PCs were handed to wealthy Cairns private schools.
Even the PM'ss own representative in the north, Leichhardt MP Jim Turnour, was left scratching his head after Trinity Anglican School, Peace Lutheran College and Cairns Christian College were selected over needy government schools to benefit from the first round of the national high school computer giveaway.
"It's a bit of a surprise to us as well… to see TAS particularly on the list and I don't mind you quoting me as saying that," Mr Turnour said.
His surprise grew when The Weekend Post told him that most senior students at TAS already owned laptops, which are a compulsory item for Years 5-10 under school policy. As part of Mr Rudd's commitment to give every student in Years 9 to 12 access to a computer, TAS received 130 new computers at a cost of $1000 each, Peace Lutheran College will get 60 and Cairns Christian College 26.
Only school-owned computers are counted in the current assessment process and first priority went to schools with ratios of just one computer for eight students or more, and those whose computers are older than three or four years.
Bentley Park College Year 12 student Julia Forsberg and her dad Chris Forsberg, who is vice-president of the college's Parents and Citizens committee said they were disappointed more needy schools weren't on the list.
"I'm not sure whether those (private) schools are really representative of Jim Turnour's working families," Mr Forsberg said.
"I don't understand what's happened here." Julia, 16, said she was crushed that faster new computers would not be available at Bentley in her final year.
"You can't research at school because a lot of the time the computers don't work," she said.
"You try to log on and it doesn't work so you go to another one and it doesn't work either, you end up giving up."
Cairns State High School Parents and Citizens president Philip Slater was also disappointed.
"It sounds a bit harsh that private schools got first bite at the cherry," Mr Slater said.
TAS principal Christopher Daunt Watney said the computer-to-student ratio at his school was 1:8 and the new computers would bring that down to the target range of 1:2.
He said TAS' parents were taxpayers and entitled to benefit from the Government's initiative just as much as state school parents. "All schools, be they state or private, should be able to offer students technology that allows them to be computer-literate," Mr Daunt Watney said.
"I'm against getting into the politics of envy."
Mr Turnour last night promised to raise the issue with Education Minister Julia Gillard.
He said the urgency of each school’s need might need to be more closely assessed.
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It's a bit rich: Public school parents and students have attacked PM Kevin Rudd's school computer program after the first free PCs were handed to wealthy private schools in Cairns.
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