Stop dumbing down public schools: Murdoch

By Staff Writer

International media mogul Rupert Murdoch has made a scathing review of Australian public education, saying the failing education system was “a moral scandal” and government and businesses should aggressively push for higher standards and equal opportunity.

Mr Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp, voiced his concern over the faltering education system during the fourth of his six Boyer Lectures titled Fortune favours the smart

He said Australia in the race of public education was already lagging behind counties such as Finland, Korea and Singapore, and should set much higher expectations for students, teachers and schools.

“Despite spending more and more money, our children seem to be learning less and less – especially for those who are most vulnerable in our society.

“At the very least, setting higher standards means we ought to demand as much quality and performance from those who run our school as we do from those who provide us with our morning cup of coffee,” he said. 

He said while Australians had popularised the word ‘egalitarian’, it was getting harder to square Australian pride in equality with the realities of its public education.

“Whether urban or rural, no government of any decent society should be effectively writing off whole segments of the population by refusing to confront a failing education bureaucracy.

“We need to stop making excuses for schools and school systems that are failing the very children they are meant to serve,” he said.

Despite the argument that ‘MacDonaldisation’ is cutting much of the need for calculation in the name of efficiency, he said the new technology would only replace tedious tasks, making harder for unskilled workers to find a job.

“Ultimately, fighting the new and better technology is a fool’s errand.

“That means that there will be fewer and fewer satisfying jobs for people without skills. In the new economy, the people that companies are craving – and are willing to pay for – are people who add valued to their enterprises,” he said.

Mr Murdoch also said businesses should stop delegating their role in education reforms to government, as they knew better than government officials the essential skills for the future.

“Many companies devote a large part of their giving to higher education. At the very critical levels of primary and secondary education, there is much less corporate participation,” he said.

“Companies need to take a more active part in working with government to ensure that the schools are giving people an education. As business leaders, we know how unprepared too many young people are for the working world.”

He warned without immediate action to lift the standards of schools, Australian society would eventually pay the increase price in social dysfunction, welfare, healthcare and crime.

“We spend too much time on avoiding failure. The real answer is to start pursuing success.

“The failure of these schools is more than a waste of human promise, and a drain on our future workforce. It is a moral scandal that no one should tolerate,” Mr Murdoch said.

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