Conservatives need to start getting involved in the culture wars to push back on critical race and gender theories being taught to children in classrooms, Bella d’Abrera from the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) said.
In an address to CPAC Australia, d’Abrera said Australians should learn from the recent Virginian state election and take action to push back on radical ideology being taught in schools.
“I want to make Australia’s education great again,” she said on Oct. 2. “Classrooms are a battleground. This is why we need to fight.”
D’Abrera said parents need to stop being surprised that younger generations were ashamed of Australia considering what they were repeatedly being taught at school.
“Children are impressionable and if you tell them over and over again that this country is evil, they’re going to believe you,” she said.
According to a poll commissioned by the IPA, if Australia was in the same position as Ukraine, just 32 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would stay and fight, while 40 percent said they would leave the country.
“If [Prime Minister] Albanese and his [government] were truly interested in what he called fair dinkum history … they’d stop lying by omission and start teaching some positive aspects of Australian history to children,” she said.
“Explain to them how, when the first settlers came to Australia, they brought with them the ethics of Christianity, in particular the notion of the sovereignty and accountability—accountability of the individual.”
D’Abrera, who is the director of the IPA’s Foundations of Western Civilisation program, said all history should be taught, not just select segments.
“Nobody’s suggesting that they should be ignored or covered up but focusing children’s minds entirely on the mistakes of the past … is detrimental to their development and the development of the future of this country,” she said.
Radical Ideology Propelling Children into Activism
In the state of Victoria, the Respectful Relationships Program teaches kids as young as four to think about their gender identity and challenge gender norms.
“They’re getting full blown radical gender theory. They’re being told gender is a social construct,” d’Abrera said.
“They hate men. They hate the family. They hate the family structure. They want the state to be in control of the child.
“And at the moment, the state is in control of the child.”
As a result of the radical agenda, young Australians are being “prematurely propelled” into the world of activism without full knowledge of any of the issues at hand or the basic skills to “save the world.”
“And when I say basic skills, they’re not being taught how to read, write, or add up, they’re not been taught the basics,” d’Abrera said.
She called on conservatives to get involved in pushing back ideology in the classroom and bring back the focus on teaching literacy and numeracy.
“It’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty in the cultural wars. Conservatives have been cowards for far too long,” d’Abrera said. “Everyone goes ‘yes, it’s a problem’ then everyone walks away, and the problem gets even worse.”
Education System Failing Children
Since the turn of the century, education standards in Australia have been plummeting in “both absolute terms and relative to other countries,” despite the 38 percent increase in education funding over the last decade, former Education Minister Alan Tudge said in 2021.
In the early 2000s, Australia ranked 4th internationally in reading, 8th in science, and 11th in mathematics. But by 2018, those rankings have dropped to 16th, 17th and 29th, respectively.
“We’re breeding a future of people who cannot read and write,” d’Abrera said.
A recent interim report, published in September by the Productivity Commission, found that between five and nine percent of Australians repeatedly failed to reach the minimum standards in literacy and numeracy each year.
It noted that many students who are struggling to keep up fall outside of the “priority equity cohorts”—students who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; live in regional, rural, and remote locations; have a disability; or are from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.
“While students from priority equity cohorts are disproportionately represented among students who have fallen behind national minimum standards, most underperforming students do not belong to these cohorts,” the report said.