17 October 2014

Racist emails sent by the academic charged with assessing the English curriculum have tainted the credibility of the Abbott Government’s National Curriculum Review, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said the exposure of the shocking emails sent by Sydney University Professor Barry Spurr damaged the credibility of the review and showed it was an ideological exercise with little value.

“Education Minister Christopher Pyne hand-picked right-wing commentator Kevin Donnelly as one of the two men charged with running this review, and selecting the independent reviewers such as Professor Spurr,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Mr Donnelly is a supporter of corporal punishment in schools, and is on the record as expressing racist and homophobic views. He has also worked as a consultant for tobacco company Philip Morris, producing materials to be used in schools.

“He is a former Liberal Party staffer with a strong political bias. This review has been an ideological waste of time from the start.”

“In announcing the review Minister Pyne attempted to create the impression that the curriculum lacked balance.

“But by appointing Mr Donnelly the review has become an attempt to impose a narrow ideology on what is taught to our children.

“We have now seen one of Mr Donnelly’s chosen reviewers exposed. These shocking, appalling and deeply offensive emails must call into question Professor Spurr’s suitability to have been chosen as a specialist reviewer of the English curriculum.

“These views have no place in contemporary Australia and those harbouring them should not influence what is taught in our schools.

“It is clear that Professor Spurr’s independent review of the English curriculum had a strong influence on the final Review, which quotes him extensively.

“While Mr Pyne can try and distance himself from these shocking remarks, he cannot change the fact that the Curriculum Review has been tainted by the people that have been chosen to contribute to it.”

“The Curriculum Review has been a distraction from the start, an attempt by Minister Pyne to divert attention from his failure to honour the Gonski agreements and properly fund schools.”

“It has now been further discredited as an ideological exercise.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291