Monday, January 27, 2014

Gonski campaign to continue

Vanguard February 2014 p. 3
Nick G.

Public education workers are determined to continue campaigning for a new deal in education funding in 2014.
Labor finally took on board a 20-year campaign by supporters of public education for a better funding deal for their sector.

 Abbott and Pyne tried to put the matter to rest prior to last year’s Federal election, promising to match Labor’s Gonski commitments “dollar for dollar” and touting a so-called “unity ticket on education”.

 Abbott and Pyne undermine Gonski

This was revealed almost immediately as a bare-faced lie.  All they had committed to was the funding contained in the first four years of a six year funding package.  With most of the funding coming in the last two years of the package, their “commitment” was to just one third of the total.

And as AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos noted recently, “Gonski is not just about extra money, but changing how money is invested in schools”.

Gonski pledged to put the extra money into addressing equity issues in education, giving all schools a base level of funding, but providing extra where there were greater numbers of disadvantaged students, and giving greater again where there were higher concentrations of disadvantage.

Representing the most reactionary sections of the ruling class, those sections that regard any spending on socially disadvantaged groups as a waste of resources, Abbott and Co first denied that Australian schools had an equity problem, and then started working on their own version of equity according to which all schools, from the most wealthy and elite closed door private colleges to the most run-down, poorest “we’ll-take-you-all” public schools should get equal amounts of funding.

Theft from the disadvantaged

Theft from the disadvantaged is most prominently displayed in the three places that refused to sign up to Gonski – WA, Queensland and the NT.  They have now been given their Gonski funds by Abbott and Pyne minus any obligation to use it as Gonski intended.

In WA an extra $31m of Gonski funds is unlikely to make it to schools given that total cuts to schools in the current financial year already exceed $100m.  Five hundred education jobs have been cut and teacher numbers have been capped at 2013 levels despite increased public school enrolments.

In Queensland, the extra funding of $131m of Gonski funds looks more likely to replace funding from the state government’s own budget than to end up in schools.

In the NT, and extra $68m of Gonski funds is likewise set to remain in the Territory Government’s coffers as education minister Peter Chandler proceeds to cut over 100 jobs in teaching and support staff. 

Put money where it is needed

To promote the goals of getting WA, Queensland and the NT to commit to using Gonski funding for those for whom it was intended - disadvantaged students in the first place - and to force Abbott and Pyne to agree to the full six-year Gonski funding package and funding framework, the AEU and its supporters will send campaign buses to Canberra from all corners of the continent in March as the first part of a long-term campaign.

There should not be huge gaps in the resource standards for schools.

No worker should have to search beyond his or her community for a school happy to take his or her children and provide them with the very best of resources and opportunities.


Every parent of a disadvantaged child or a child with disabilities should be confident that their child will be supported in a local school by additional funding and support.

These are the basic elements of a working class agenda for immediate improvements to school education in this country.

No comments:

Post a Comment