MARK Latham has accused Maitland High School of playing politics in the classroom with a "wacky" English curriculum daring to explore the Black Lives Matter movement and gender equality issues.
The NSW upper house representative for One Nation has asked the Legislative Council why students were given stimulus material about Black Lives Matter, equality, and the gender pay gap in Year 7 English.
"I looked at their Year 7 English curriculum and it was pretty wacky stuff in terms of what they thought were the priorities," he said.
"There seems to be an overload of political material - Black Lives Matter, allegations of racial profiling against the police, the gender pay gap, general notions of equality... It seems Year 7 English at Maitland has become more like Year 7 politics."
But Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison questioned whether Mr Latham was "cherry-picking" topics he did not agree with rather than looking at the full range of subjects covered at the school.
Two of the three most recent questions Mr Latham put to the Legislative Council about Maitland High were related to issues of race and racism being explored in the classroom.
Mr Latham also questioned why a documentary depicting AFL player Adam Goodes as a victim of racism was shown in the school's PD/H/PE classes.
"The Final Quarter film and the questions asked in it only put one side of the story - there is a different interpretation," he said.
"I don't know why it's being studied in personal development.
"If they are going to teach a very political subject, they should put both sides of the story."
A NSW Education spokesperson confirmed the film was used as part of a lesson on diversity.
"Students were given guidance on how to discuss controversial issues and explore diverse viewpoints," he said.
"Parents were notified in advance of the lessons, but a discrepancy meant one class watched half the film before notice was given. The school has reviewed and reinforced its process."
Mr Latham is set to move to the Hunter following the appointment of his wife, Janine Lacy, as a magistrate in Newcastle.
He said things like Black Lives Matter and equality were political topics for adults to discuss, more suited to political subjects taught at university.
He said Year 7 English students should be developing their skills in literacy and writing. If they wanted to learn about politics, they could study Society and Culture in Year 11 and 12.
Ms Aitchison said the Federal Government had a "whole program" dedicated to taking students in Year 6 to Parliament House in Canberra to get them engaged in citizenship and interested in politics.
"It has been a bugbear of politicians for generations that kids aren't engaged with the political process," she said.
"Perhaps if kids were more likely to critically analyse information they see and hear in the media, then we may have students becoming more engaged."
English classes had always encouraged students to analyse what they see, what they hear, and what they read.
"Otherwise we end up with a whole lot of people who don't critically-think, who believe everything they read on Facebook, and don't actually understand the nuances or all the facets of a topic from different perspectives," she said.
"I think educators are trying to get information to students in a way that is relevant and engaging.
"It is concerning when politicians are looking at the curriculum and cherry-picking topics they don't particularly agree with that may not reflect the diverse topics covered at the schools.
"Are we going to hark back to a stage where, until you're 16, you don't have an opinion that matters? Where children should be seen and not heard?
"For every topic that is controversial, there will be people who agree with it, and people who don't.
"But perhaps the discussion in class may flesh out some more of those arguments and challenge them to think about it from other perspectives."
Ms Aitchison said Mr Latham was entitled to ask questions.
"But is he qualified, as an educator, to understand how the curriculum is actually delivered? Or is he cherry-picking a topic and putting his opinion on how that might be taught?"
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