Jacqui Lambie is right – it just got harder for working class kids like me to go to university

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I know Senator Jacqui Lambie is a controversial figure but after scuttling government’s refugee phone ban and now delivering this powerful speech on working class kids, I am starting to warm up to her.

a large stone building with a clock tower: Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP

Her recent speech on the floor of the Senate opposing the government’s university changes because they would make it hard for working class students to go to university resonated with me on so many levels.

I know because I was one of those working-class students she talked about.

Related: Jacqui Lambie to oppose Coalition’s university funding changes, saying poor kids ‘get a raw deal’

I went to one of the poorest high schools in this country – Parafield Gardens high school. A school with no culture of students going on to tertiary education.

It was assumed, and accepted, by those around me that if you came from the northern suburbs of Adelaide, you would end up on the factory floor.

Completing Year 10 was the ceiling. You were then ushered into vocational training and then into a low paid, insecure job behind a till or on a factory line (if you were lucky).

Universities did not bother with us.

We did not have mentors or “old boys’ or networks to open doors for us, prop us up and set up connections for life.

I was supposed to end up slaughtering chickens at the local abattoir with my twin brother before moving up to a job with Holden’s Elizabeth plant – with my older brother.

But it is not just that society (teachers, politicians, universities) gave up on me, on us working class kids, it could also be our own families.

Unlike most ethnic parents, my mother was never too keen on education because none of her working-class friends


Kimberly Van Der Beek on Education Plan for Her 5 Kids, Says Traditional School Is ‘Imprisonment’

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Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Kimberly Van Der Beek is opening up about her own methods of homeschooling.

Speaking on The Make Down podcast, the mother of five said she and actor husband James Van Der Beek have “done many variations” of teaching, including the “traditional homeschooling” at their house and hired teachers as well a “homeschool co-op at another friend’s house.”

“It was a really beautiful experience, there were a few teachers and it was incredible,” she said, advising those wanting to homeschool their kids on their own to not “stress yourself out.”

Kimberly, who is mom to daughters Gwendolyn, 2, Emilia, 4, Annabel Leah, 6, and Olivia, 9½, as well as 8-year-old son Joshua, also shared her perspective on the education and school systems.

“I think way too much is put on kids. I look at school, to be honest with you, as a form of imprisonment, where they spend hours of their day being told what to care about and what to learn,” Van Der Beek said. “We want strong children that are creative, self-sufficient, can make their own decisions, but we put them like a lineup of kids, moving them from subject to subject, activity to activity.”

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James Van Der Beek/ Instagram

Citing how children are taught in Finland, she explained how “most kids are ready to start learning the alphabet at the age of seven yet we’re trying to get them to already be reading at the age of seven,” adding, “I really took to the Finnish school system as an example of how I personally wanted to teach my kids.”



Raimondo to college kids: No Halloween for you

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But Raimondo took a different tone with college-age Rhode Islanders who have driven up the state’s COVID-19 rates in recent weeks.

She warned college students not to hold Halloween house parties, saying, “Don’t do it. Don’t even try it. We will bust your party. We will fine everybody 500 bucks. Don’t even think about it.”

In recent weeks, Rhode Island has seen coronavirus outbreaks among students at Providence College and the University of Rhode Island.

On Wednesday, Raimondo displayed a chart showing COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island by age group over the past two months. While the chart showed the number of new cases remaining constant or declining for most age groups, it showed a sharp spike in cases among those 19 to 24 years old in mid-September.

Coronavirus cases by age group in Rhode Island
Coronavirus cases by age group in Rhode IslandRhode Island Department of Health

“It’s notable, it’s obvious, it jumps off the page,” Raimondo said.

She said the good news is that the rate of new cases among young adults has begun to return to previous levels. But she said the bad news is that case investigations have revealed that the increase stems from college students who are still socializing with different groups of friends without wearing face masks.

Raimondo spoke directly to that 19- to 24-year-old age group.

“You may be young and healthy,” she said, “but you are spreading this to people who aren’t young and healthy.”

Raimondo told college students they must adhere to public health protocols “for the sake of your loved ones” and “for the sake of the rest of the Rhode Island community.” She said she has heard from many restaurant and hotel owners whose businesses are hurting because the outbreaks among college students placed Rhode Island back on the travel restriction lists for states such as