While respecting the democratic right of all citizens to decide their vote in the July 2 federal election, and as a union independent of and unaffiliated to any political party, the NSW Teachers Federation has a responsibility to objectively analyse the policies and actions of political parties and candidates, assess their impact on public education students and teachers, and inform members accordingly.
On the most important school education issue of our times, the conclusion is clear.
Labor and the Greens will fully implement the Gonski needs-based funding model.
The Liberals and Nationals will not do so.
In February 2012, the most significant inquiry into the education system in 40 years, the Schools Funding Review headed by David Gonski, released its findings.
The report was a devastating indictment of the actions of successive state and federal governments which, for decades, had wilfully directed funding to the already advantaged and had underfunded public education.
The Gonski report delivered an urgent message to the nation, “Australia will only slip further behind unless, as a nation, we act and act now.”
Gonski panel member, Dr Ken Boston, encapsulated the findings in one powerful statement, “The teachers in our most disadvantaged schools are at least as good as those in our most advantaged schools. The issue is not their competence, skill or commitment. The issue is that their number, resources and support are unequal to the task.”
However, within minutes of its release, the federal Liberal/National Parties dismissed the entire report, its findings and all of its recommendations.
More than four years later, as we approach the 2016 federal election, the federal Liberal and National parties are still refusing to back the model despite an extraordinary body of evidence that the additional resources are working, and are seeking re-election on a policy of cutting the funding and abandoning the needs-based model.
In short, the Turnbull Coalition government is refusing to honour the six-year Commonwealth-NSW Gonski agreement signed on April 23, 2013.
Only through the full implementation of Gonski will all schools be lifted to the national minimum resource standard and all students provided with the additional funding necessary to achieve their potential in education and life beyond schooling.
In this election, teachers have the opportunity to vote for significantly increased funding for student learning conditions and teachers’ professional working conditions.
It is the opportunity to vote for a funding model that will establish a new, higher level of recurrent government investment in Australian schooling to help build a fairer and more prosperous nation.
It is an opportunity to vote for improved support and working conditions for all teachers.
It is an opportunity to vote for our children and their future.
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