I’ve been gagged on facebook!

religious freedom gag
Blocking discussion on religious instruction is against the very spirit of education
religious freedom gag
Blocking discussion on religious instruction is against the very spirit of education!

Before you read on, I’d like to make sure that you read this apology. I upset some members of the PTA because of some comments I made that were a complete misunderstanding of the situation.

I have an apology to make. I’ve removed some criticism I made of the PTA. I realise now that I made a mistake in my understanding of the role the PTA has with regard to the school and parents. I interpreted the school communication (below) to be the school telling us that we could discuss issues with the PTA. I thought that our PTA acted as a kind of intermediary between the school and the parents. Some PTA’s do this but our PTA is primarily a fundraising group and does not act in any official capacity between the school and parents. By the time I posted on the PTA page, I was feeling ignored by the school, fobbed off by the board of trustees and let down by the Ministry of Education. I was angry and the PTA was my last hope. When they blocked any discussion about my concerns, I felt betrayed, and I had a rant. I’m really sorry for any offence I caused and want to say that they do a great job and I’ll gladly support them in any way I can.

Since the new guidelines effectively closed off all possibility of public discussion on the School Facebook page, we decided to create our own group for parents of children at the School. It’s pretty shocking to me that the school is so paranoid about this blowing up in their faces that they’re prepared to try and gag me rather than deal with the issue.

This blog is part of a story about my experience with religious education in my Daughter’s school. If you missed the start of it, you can find the beginning here.

You might think that the school has some sort of right to control what happens on these Facebook pages. And I think you’d be right, they do. However, remember that the school is not a private organisation. It’s not like me deleting some mean comment on my own private Facebook page. The school is a taxpayer-funded (that’s you and me), non-religious (that’s most of us), public institution that can and should be held publicly accountable for its actions. It has no automatic right to privacy like you and I do. No right to respect, regardless of their actions.

If you get spam, inappropriate conversations or abuse on a school Facebook page, it does need to be monitored and controlled in order to keep the page useful and accessible. Other than the school Facebook page, there was no other online school community forum for discussion until we created the School Parents group. But what about the PTA page?

school newsletterIn the latest attempt to maintain control, the school sent out a newsletter that included this section in it. Possibly alarmed by the numbers of parents joining our Facebook group, the school encourages parents to use the school PTA Facebook page to get “communication out” but still want parents to ask questions or discuss issues directly with the school. On the surface, this seems reasonable. However, there’s a couple of problems with this.

  1. The school PTA page is not set up to allow parents to openly post information that the other members will be alerted to. I posted this today but no one in the group will know it’s there unless they scroll down the page and check the “visitor posts” section. So pretty pointless posting on there really.
    PTA facebook post
  2. The second thing about this notice is that the school wants to control all questions so that they come through them. If they dealt with them honestly and were open with information, then this wouldn’t be an issue but they are not. They have lied to parents for years about the RE Classes and continue to mislead us today even after being alerted to what has happened in the past. They also actively promote the RE Classes to parents who ask for their children to be withdrawn. This sort of abuse of power does not encourage reliance on them to deal with complaints or concerns fairly or honestly.

This prevention of open discussion makes me wonder what they think they are trying to achieve in educating our kids. Are they simply going through the motions of filling them with the knowledge they approve of? Or are they teaching them how to think and not just what to think? I believe that teaching our kids to think rationally and critically is really important so that they have the skills and understanding to question authority at every level. Simply learning how to be good followers who don’t rock the boat, creates an unthinking society that allows people like Donald Trump to gain such a large following.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Please let me know what you think in the comments section below! Facebook has been quite active with discussion on this topic and there is all sorts of reasons being given for why Bible in Schools Classes should be kept! You can follow this story by going to my blog about debunking reasons for Bible in Schools.

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