Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 9, 1999

Teachers' union rejects "school as punishment" message

The Australian Education Union says moves by an Alice Springs magistrate to make mandatory school attendance part of a 13-year-old boy's sentence, gives mixed messages about education.

Magistrate Warren Donald yesterday ordered the boy to do 480 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty to 33 theft and breaking-and-entering charges.

Mr Donald told the court mandatory attendance at school should be part of the boy's community service order.

The union's Mark Crossin says it confuses the role teachers play as educators.

"The union has no difficulty about the requirements of mandatory school attendence for students of a compulsory school age," Mr Crossin said.

"But to link a judicial penalty for a property crime or other crimes for that matter and part of the penalty to have school attendance, I think it's quite disturbing," he said.

Mr Crossin says it gives mixed messages about school by portraying it to the community as a punishment instead of a source of educational opportunities.

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