The FIRIS facebook page had an interesting thread of parents discussing the dysfunctional new “ANSWER THE QUESTION” policy

What is the new “”ANSWER THE QUESTION”” policy you ask?  Well it works like this:

ACCESS Ministry puts a 3 paragraph promotion in school news letters, which asks parents “do you want to sign up”?

The whole thing makes it sound like it is not only endorsed, but advocated and approved by the Minister for Education, and that it makes your teeth whiter too.

Of course as with any solicitation to join any voluntary activity, a non response would count as a “no”.  For instance, when your bank sends you an offer for a credit card, if you toss it in the trash, it is understood by the bank, that by not responding to their kind offer of credit, that you have declined the offer.

Your lack of action means “no”.  An “opt in” system is one where the “default” condition is “out”.  “Opt in” requires positive action to participate.

However this is not at all what ACCESS Ministry and the Department of Education are doing.

What they are doing is requiring you to “ANSWER THE QUESTION”, and the way it is being done – it carries with it the concept of “official program”.  So what is being said is “this is the official program, do you want it?  “ANSWER THE QUESTION”!   It is in the middle of the day, it is approved by the Minister and it gives you fresh breath – DO YOU WANT IT, “ANSWER THE QUESTION”!!!!

We are supposed to believe that this is a grand policy change from “opt out” to “opt in”.

One mother wrote in to say this in response to the post we did on the new sign up sheet:

I got the same form – I thought it was a slight improvement because it seemed like an opt in. I therefore just did not return it. I was then told that I had to return it with the word NO written on it even though there seemed to be no provision for No on the form.

So this new system is demonstrably worse, it is not opt in at all – it is one where a parent has to say “no” .

If you have to say “no” then it is not opt in.  If I am walking along a public street, and pass near a church, no one working for the Government of Victoria says “Halt, who goes there?  Now, tell me, do you want to go into this church, YES or NO”?

Not at all – if I choose to go into the church, that is my business, as are my opinions on God, religion and spirituality.  I should never be in the position of having to tell the school secretary my opinions on “religious instruction”.

Here we have a church group, electing which schools it is going to perform ministry in, using the school newsletter to advertise, using the school time table to operate, and the minister of education as an official approval body – and we have the school secretaries conducting enrollment, and if parents just ignore all this – we find that NOW, because someone made the brilliant observation that silence is not consent – we have parents being told YOU MUST WRITE NO.

Well what kind of “opt in” is that?

Its ridiculous – and you should be mad as hell that your local church demands you tell your school if you wish to attend a program it teaches in YOUR school.

This is incredibly abusive of a core right of privacy.  If parents want to take their kids to church run programs – NOTHING IS STOPPING THEM.

If the school hands out a church flyer asking people to come at a time and place – great – that is “opt in”.  Go for your life.

This system is not at all opt in – it is still “opt out” – it never way “voluntary”, it still isn’t “voluntary”.

It is the official policy of the school and if you DON”T want to participate, you must still say “NO”.

You must tell Martin Dixon that this is not OK with you.
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