Parents are the primary educators of their children. Information is key to helping them make the best decisions for their children's progress through the education system.
Minister Jan O'Sullivan's moves to give them information about the performance of their children's schools is therefore to be welcomed. So too is the already promised charter for parents and learners, which will set out what they can expect from the school system.
But it seems the minister will stop short of allowing parents be told how their children's schools actually perform in the Leaving Certificate. Why parents can't be trusted with this information is not entirely clear. The usual argument is that such raw data can be misleading and incomplete.
This assumes that parents decide on a school for their child solely on the basis of exam results. They don't. They take into account other factors such as convenience, reputation and sports facilities. The reality is that many simply do not have a choice at either primary or post-primary level and send their children to the nearest school.
But it also overlooks the reality of feeder school lists, which have become an important part of the annual cycle of information made available to parents by the media. They are a proxy for the real thing, which is exam data. But they clearly fulfil a need, a need which the State should be fulfilling.
That thirst for information is not solely about exam results, important though that is. Parents also feel they need to know more to help their children make the right course choices for college. A new survey showed that half do not believe they know enough to provide adequate career guidance for their children.
That is why the recently-launched College Awareness Week is so important. The numbers in first year in college is up from 38,000 to 47,000 in just under a decade, according to data published by the Higher Education Authority. That's very healthy, but the growth is uneven and the Awareness Week is targeting those from backgrounds where is no great tradition of going to college. Once again, information for parents and young people is shown to be an absolutely necessity for the right choices in education.
THE abject political failure in handling the introduction of water charges has led to a small but growing number of citizens being hauled before our courts.
Yesterday three protesters were given suspended sentences for breaking High Court orders: a fourth protester had a motion for attachment and committal against him struck out last Monday as legal paperwork was not in order. Imposing the suspended prison terms with great reluctance, High Court judge Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said establishing and maintaining the rule of law was a fundamental imperative of the foundation of a democratic society.
The judge, who has continuously sought to strike a balance between the competing rights of peaceful protest and the right of meter installers to work, said if court orders were breached or ignored in any way, it undermined the very fabric upon which our democratic society is built.
Jailing protesters risks making martyrs of their cause and, should that happen, the fault lies not with our courts but with our legislators.