LETTERS

Bumptious and presumptuous

No doubt many former teaching colleagues and State Super ‘beneficiaries’ have lately received a bumptious, presumptuous and condescending piece of ‘advice’ (in my case date May 27) from one Nada Siratkova, Head of Member Services, SAS Trustee Corporation.

We are advised in this edict that SSFS (State Super Financial Services), a love-child of SAS, will be given details of our financial dealings with SAS regardless of whether or not we want it to happen, unless we ‘opt out’ before July 1 this year (I did say it was bumptious).

I doubt that my financial details will be going to SSFC after my reply to SAS Trustee Corp and I advise all my fellow members to tell SAS to take a running jump and/or to mind their own bloody business … strangely enough, we can still make our own decisions, even if we are older than 50!

Of course, members can ignore the advice and then put up with a lot of bumf from SSFS trying to get hold of their money. It’s up to them.

Don Nealon
Retired

Over-regulation

The five-year, 100 hours (50 registered course hours, 50 teacher identified) ongoing Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards’ maintenance is an arbitrary requirement. There have been discussions of lowering the registered hours (to 25 hours), owing to reasons such as difficulty of accessing courses, especially in rural/remote areas.

Regulations should amend the requirement to “ongoing training” without time or submission impositions. After all, public education teachers (the great majority of the workforce) are assessed under the Teacher Assessment Review Schedule (TARS) or Executive Assessment Review Schedule (EARS) annually — including requirements for professional development, both implicit and explicit.

With EARS and TARS to be even more onerous in 2015, following joint development with the Department this year, it is timely to review the regulations. It has happened before, with overly onerous requirements reviewed, and extensions and exemptions granted.

However, this should be not just a one-off adjustment. There is an unnecessary, bureaucratic duplication of teachers being assessed and signed off (including professional development) under TARS annually, then again “proving” professional development to an external authority in the fifth year.

It’s like car rego — either you are on the road, or you’re not.

Federation leadership should lobby to remove this redundant over regulation.

John Morris
Kingsgrove High (relieving)

Gary Zadkovich, Deputy President responds: Current TARS, EARS and PARS processes will be replaced by a new performance and development framework that the Federation is jointly developing with the Department. Federation’s approach will reflect the terms of settlement for the current salaries and conditions award that members endorsed in statewide meetings last year. When this framework is developed, it will be presented to Executive and State Council, where duly elected representatives of the membership will decide on its suitability for implementation. Members are assured that Federation’s representatives in this process are well aware of the need to protect and promote the teaching qualifications and practice standards that underpin our professional status, at a time when employers and governments in other jurisdictions are seeking to deregulate and undermine them.

Irritated

I was irritated by the article, "It takes so little to keep a Palestinian girl in school" published in your last issue. The article legitimises its presence in the Education paper by outlining a situation that appears to be about education but in fact is aimed squarely at politics. As a geography teacher I was amazed to find that the village in question “lies far south in Palestine” and that “residents of this village live in Palestine”. For an article to be presented by an ex-teacher, Marcia Corderoy and for the Education journal to allow this to be printed without editing is astonishing. When did Palestine appear on the Middle East map? And where is “south Palestine”?

This article also lacks other details like why this initiative is aimed only at girls. I would like to know if the Leichhardt Friends of Hebron have any initiatives in Nigeria where girls are being kidnapped and killed due to being educated.

Prem Toocaram
Chatswood HS

Jennifer Killen responds: Palestine has been shown on maps for centuries and was recognised as a state by an overwhelming UN majority. Just as NSWTF focuses its efforts on public education, our small group focuses on Hebron, but we wholeheartedly support concern for children everywhere and look forward to attending any event organised by Prem Toocaram in support of girls’ education in Nigeria.
Editor’s note: Marcia Corderoy is an active member of the Retired Teachers Association.

Be part of the anger

The recent Federal Budget was perhaps the most vicious attack on public education funding in nearly 20 years. I was therefore both astonished and disappointed at the timidity of our response to these attacks. It is simply not enough that our union respond by merely endorsing ‘local action by Committees and Associations’, lobbying Labor and Coalition MPs and supplying ‘campaign materials’. If we stand any chance of defeating these Budget proposals our leaders should be calling for a number of measures including statewide industrial action, demonstrations and the picketing of federal and state Liberal MPs’ electoral offices. Our union should also organise protests every time leading Liberal politicians attend a function or do walkabout. We should also put pressure on Labor and the Greens now, and not wait until the next federal election. If Labor and the Greens are serious about their opposition to this horrible Budget we should call on them to block supply unless it is withdrawn. Thousands marched in Melbourne against the Budget. Our union should be part of this anger. Future generations of ordinary Australians will not forgive us if we don’t act now to save public education.

Pete Brooks
Fed Rep, Muirfield HS

Editor responds: During a joint delegates' meeting called called by Unions NSW on June 12 a resolution was passed for a community day of action to be held on Sunday July 6 at the Sydney Town Hall from 1pm.

Carbon copy

Get on with it

Sydney Morning Herald
Tim Hand (letters, June 2) makes an important point, but sadly correcting skewed funding is an integral part of the solution. The education system we have is badly broken, the Gonski recommendations took the initial, brave step changing the focus from choice to equity and this is fundamental to the way we approach education in Australia.

Curriculum, pedagogic and assessment reforms can follow as we put learning and teacher quality at the centre. The risible focus on inappropriate testing regimes and their clumsy interpretation and use in the belief that markets will sort out what happens in schools is one of the tragedies of our modern age. We can learn much from the Scandinavians but surely we have the gumption and the quality as a nation to arrive at our own solutions. Christopher Pyne will pass; we will grow up and get on with it.

Gus Plater
Life Member