It was time to revive the vision that public education is the key for a better society, Senator Lee Rhiannon told Ryde-Macquarie Teachers Association’s annual Public Education Dinner on October 31.
Ms Rhiannon talked about the former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s legacy that gave a generation the opportunity to attend university, something that, up to that time, was reserved exclusively for the rich. However, Whitlam’s school reforms opened up funds for the first time to the Catholic education system which then allowed the exponential expansion of Commonwealth funding to private schools.
Senator Rhiannon also talked about the direct relationship between political donations by private profit vocational education companies and the legislation that allows taxpayers’ money to be diverted to these private for profit vocational colleges.
More than 80 guests gathered in solidarity at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club to enjoy a buffet dinner and celebrate public education. The dinner opened with a wonderful display of public education with student performances from Marsden High School year 10 vocalist Nina Simeon and a year 9 rock band with musicians (Callam Irving, James Bongers, Alex Wood and Jordan Wass).
Guests included teachers from Ryde-Macquarie, Parramatta, The Hills, Blacktown, Inner City, Inner West, Manly-Warringah, Newcastle, TAFE and Retired teachers associations; Federation Officers; members of the Ryde Community Union Alliance and Jack Mundey, who in the 1970s used Green Bans to save The Rocks from demolition.
Association life membership was awarded to Federation City Organiser Theo Bougatsas and Association President Janine Kitson.
More than $1000 was raised for Stewart House from the sale of raffle tickets, school and teacher donations, and $200 from the Teachers Mutual Bank.
Christine Hawkins expressed her appreciation to the Association for its fundraising efforts in the past four years. The money raised goes to funding public education students’ two-week respite at Stewart House.
Raffle prizes included a Eureka flag, a 5kg block of Belgian chocolate, lunch at Toast Café, a $200 WEA gift voucher, a National Parks Association membership voucher, cook books and a child’s bike.