This pewsitter would like to encourage you to read the shiny new Southern Cross cover to cover. Not necessarily while sitting in the pew, please. It pays to read the ads, too.
Because Christian ads can be terribly revealing.
A certain school, whose blushes will be spared, put in large coloured type. “At xxxx, bright young girls flourish into high achieving, confident and compassionate young women”.
Well its better than the slogan “its all about you”: which promoted another leading brand of school on bus sides around the inner west for months.
I am sure that the Anglican school is telling the truth. Girls flourish there. Especially bright ones.
The ad told the truth. And it is the market segmentation hinted at in it that troubles me.
What about the unbright? The children with learning difficulties and autism?
Jesus teaches us that our hospitality should not a be aimed at those who can pay us back. We are to invite the poor and sick to our tables. So when issuing an invitation to take part in education at many of our schools why do we aim at those most likely to climb the ladder of success?
There are the easily deciphered code words like “leaders”. HSC scores are displayed.
This goes beyond honouring students who have worked hard, it is a marketing tool.
Scholarships are part of school marketing, buying talent that will seed HSC scores ,or music or sporting triumphs and in turn be advertised.
If his instructions for holding a meal is any guide Jesus – if he returned as a headmaster – would award scholarhips to the “blind the lame and the halt” Why not a scholarship for a down kid? If It sounds radical, it is because we do not think the Jesus way.
In fairness lets point to the learning support some kids are given in our schools. There are special teachers, who are dedicated, who do a good job.. It would not be fair to leave them out.
My point is that these are not the kids the schools reach out to recruit. There is not a sytematic attempt to make sure that independent schools take their share of challenged kids. Their way is not made easy by scholarships, their achievements are not featured in school ads.
There are a couple of brilliant exceptions to the gloomy picture I paint . One is danebank which teaches the “lifeskill” curriculum, (for kids unable to do the regular HSC curriculm) fulltime in a special unit. I am a grateful parent of this Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation school.
There are other ways of supporting even more challenged kids. Kingsdene is a small Anglicare school for severely disabled children which relies on parent fundraising to keep the doors open. The amount needed each year is exceeded by the profits at the annual fetes of just two or three of our richer schools. If one or more of our schools would “adopt” Kingsdene paying its deficit by fundraising or a levy on their fees, it would be a great example of the values of the inbreaking kingdom.
If Kingsdene lost the last four letters of its name wouldn’t it be great?