Once again, the IQ Squared debate series filled the auditorium of the Angel Place Recital Centre in Sydney's CBD, and this time it was to argue a hotly-felt topic, that "Public Funding of Private Education is Unconscionable". Unusually for the series, the pre-debate poll had the audience evenly split on the issue, and speakers from both teams elicited laughter, cheers and boos. High profile speakers like Jane Caro (for) and Michael Duffy (against) made strong arguments, but the stars of the show were the student debaters. Tim Mathews from Caringbah High gave a convincing personal argument that public schools need more money, and was himself evidence that public schools produce articulate, confident and clever kids. Sam Molloy, from Sydney Grammar, gave a thoughtful response to the affirmative team's argument, and in the end it was the negative that won the day, 53% to 41%, with only 6% undecided.
Jennifer Buckingham is a research fellow with The Centre for Independent Studies.
Jane Caro is a Sydney writer with particular interests in women, families and education. She is the convenor of Priority Public. Jane Caro is the co author with Chris Bonnor of The Stupid Country: How Australia is Dismantling Public Education, published in August 2007 by UNSW Press.
Lyndsay Connors was a member of the former Commonwealth Schools Commission; and Deputy Chair of the Board of the ABC. She has headed reviews in Victoria and the ACT, and held senior education posts in NSW including chair of the former NSW Public Education Council.
Michael Duffy is an Australian radio presenter and newspaper columnist. He presents the Counterpoint program on ABC Radio National.
He was originally hired in an attempt by Radio National management to find, in the words of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a "right-wing Phillip Adams."
Tim Mathews is a student debater for Caringbah High.
Sam Molloy is a student debater for Sydney Grammer School.