Has the VCE English exam been hijacked by Greens party propaganda?
Parents who have contacted the opposition's education spokesman Tim Smith believe so, prompting the Kew MP to criticise the exam's focus on "Green-left issues".
"Instead of discussing the brilliance of Shakespeare we are reduced to looking at plastic bags and a Green-left world view," he said.
"I had a number of concerns raised with me by parents with regards to the subliminal political ideology that was evident in the English exam, particularly around the emphasis on green schemes. One parent said 'has this been taken out of the Greens' party political pamphlet?' "
Part C of the popular exam, which was sat by more than 43,000 students earlier this month, asked students to analyse a newsletter written by a fictional principal who despised excessive packaging.
Principal Denise Walker boasted about having four different waste bins and expressed her disgust at individual packets of tissues, little packages of rice crackers, juice boxes, tomato sauce packets, plastic water bottles and tiny plastic fish used to dispense soy sauce.
"You might say that the material from which these containers are made are biodegradable or recyclable - but they still exist, are still clogging our bins and eventually our country," she wrote.
"If we do not do something positive about this now, the environmental damage will be irreversible."
She also criticised the Spire Primary School community for having takeaway too often and included an ominous black-and-white photo of a large pile of trash in her newsletter.
Mr Smith said the English exam was a prime example of the curriculum's emphasis of one viewpoint over another.
"There are literally hundreds of highly pertinent issues that are relevant not only to our country but to the globe that could have been assessed, that could have been a far more interesting exercise rather than the constant perpetual discussion around sustainability."
Over the past decade the language analysis section of the exam has asked students to analyse texts about the construction of a major attraction in a rural community to increase tourism, volunteering, space exploration, use of community land for a community garden, ebooks, declining biodiversity and the benefits of technology.
A spokesman for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority said this section of the exam required students to analyse how argument and language were used to persuade others to share points of view.
He said this year, students were presented with opposing views about strategies to reduce waste in a fictitious primary school.
"They were presented with two pieces: firstly, a newsletter written by the principal, who was arguing for the reduction of 'superfluous packaging in our everyday lives' and secondly, a response from a parent stating her case for continuing to use pre-packaged food," he said. The parent said it was a "a great shame if, for a vague principle, our lives become more difficult and we can't enjoy the benefits of 21st-century living".
"Students were not required to evaluate the relative merits of the arguments," the spokesman said.
He said the authority had not received any complaints about this section of the exam.
Victorian Association for the Teaching of English president Emily Frawley??? said the exam never advocated for one point of view.
"The whole idea is that it is someone's agenda on sustainability and the whole point of the task is to be able to critique it," she said.
She said the theme of sustainability would have been chosen for the language analysis section of the exam because it's an accessible issue that's prevalent in society.
"It has to be something that is broad enough that anyone can engage with it," she said.
"Whether they are for or against sustainability is beside the point."
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said that Mr Smith should learn that protecting the environment is a priority for a lot of students.
"There are wonderful schools in Kew that could teach their local member that the oceans are choking on rubbish and sea life is dying," she said.
Minister For Education James Merlino said the complaint was a "desperate plea for attention" from someone who had "no interest in the education needs of Victorians".
"Exams are prepared by education experts, absolutely not by politicians, and that's the way it will stay," he said.