Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Saturday, April 22, 2017

EARLY START: Promoting STEM education for high school and university students is too late, with the need to plant the seeds for scientific literacy in primary school.
EARLY START: Promoting STEM education for high school and university students is too late, with the need to plant the seeds for scientific literacy in primary school.

I ATTENDED a March for Science forum at the Museum on Thursday. It overflowed with scientists and citizens concerned at political leaders like Trump and Abbott cutting funding and attacking scientists for stating politically inconvenient truths.

A key point speakers discussed was the need to actively develop community science literacy so people can see through self-serving political arguments and demand governments adequately fund science and develop policy based on evidence.

The current focus on STEM skills in high school and universities is too late. In primary schools, science fairs, Tournament of Minds etc are great events. We can do more to integrate science in years K-3, particularly linking with mathematics. By year 3 many children have decided they can’t do maths and subsequently exclude sciences as a high school/career path. Good primary schools structure class delivery to avoid lock-step year curriculum that guarantees many children experience failure in maths. They provide intensive support from kindergarten to ensure struggling children succeed. Maths/science teachers as expert leaders for primary teachers would help.

If the great majority of students enter high school confident in their ability to master maths and science we can turn around the decline in science literacy and education.

Kevin Fell, Newcastle

Newcastle has changed

SO the Newcastle Jets, once again, are on the hunt for a new coach.

It appears experience this time around will be a key criteria as to who gets the job. One prerequisite that I hope does not get mentioned is the need for the coach to “understand/have knowledge of the local region” or to “understand the working-class culture”. This mentality is both outdated and simplistic. Probably 20, or even 10 years ago, I could see where this was possibly beneficial but the world has changed, Newcastle has changed, sport has changed and most importantly football has changed.

Maybe it’s time that we in Newcastle embrace a coach who has a vision, a style and philosophy on how the modern game is played, rather than he be expected to come here and understand us. The time of being the “working class underdogs” battling against big city clubs is in the past. We have an owner determined to make the Jets a force in the A-League. 

You cannot get change by going for the same approach. Clubs around the world have success with foreign coaches who come knowing next to nothing of the region. It is their knowledge of getting the best out of their players that makes the difference. 

Ivan Hecimovic, Lambton

Families keen on choice

MEMBERS of the Inter-Church Commission of Religious Education in Schools (ICCOREIS) along with SRE providers of all faiths welcomed the report on the independent review of SRE and SEE.

Of the 87 per cent of schools that responded to the survey, 92 per cent of primary and 81 per cent of secondary reported that SRE was operating. This would indicate families are keen to exercise the choice of faith education for their children. Work has begun on improving the provision of SRE and SEE in line with over 40 of the report’s recommendations. Priority is being given to providing families with more information upon which to make their choices. Member churches are committed to the continual improvement of SRE as a feature of public education.

John Donnelly, Chair of ICCOREISN, Newcastle

What GDP doesn’t measure

AN article by economist Peter Martin who, in response to the PM's recent announcement on immigration and 457 visas cutbacks, made the claim that migration and the 457 visa workers were self regulating and good for Australia (‘Migration good for us’, Herald, 21/4). That we have the highest population growth rate in the developed world suggests it is far from self regulating.

However it certainly is good for developers. The BRW top rich list has half of the top 10 recipients in the property business and yes Australia has had continuous Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for 25 years. But GDP is an indicator that measures everything but tells us nothing, certainly not the impact of our population growth on housing costs, debt, income equality, unemployment or other parameters which make up our quality of life. Most importantly, it does not measure the impact of corruption.

Don Owers, Dudley

Paying for race, again

JACQUIE Monti is correct (Letters, 20/4): Newcastle ratepayers are already paying several millions of dollars for the dubious privilege of hosting a Supercars race, through both state government and Newcastle council subsidies for the event, which seem to reach a staggering total in excess of $10 million. Why should we have to pay again? If this event must go ahead, surely those paying for it through their recently-increased council rates should have free entry. Otherwise, every ratepayer in attendance is effectively paying twice, and subsidising those from outside our city, while pot holes at Wallsend and Beresfield are still not fixed.

John Beach, Cooks Hill

Intention now clear

WHEN the inner-city train line was closed, the state government assured Novocastrians the rail corridor would be retained as public open space. Later, the government said parts of the corridor may be opened up to “low-scale” development. Recently, the government allocated a section of the corridor to the university to expand its city campus. Now, the government has announced plans for building 30 “affordable” housing units on another section of the rail corridor.

This suggests the government’s original intention for closing the inner-city train-line was to open it up for full-scale development.

Peter Newey, Hamilton

The new 4567 visa

IN the interests of fairness, I suggest everyone employed in Australia should have to apply for a working visa. I call it the 4567 Visa. Applicants would have to take a maths test. They would be shown the numbers 12389 and have to place them in order with the visa number. If they answer wrong they will undertake an extensive retraining program. That should open up a lot of positions in banking and finance for a start.

Rob McCormack, Newcastle

Letter of the week

The Herald pen goes to Graeme Jameson for his letter about the Jets.


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