Public schools target of Federal Government cuts to education!

The Education Ministers’ meeting has ended today with the majority expressing grave concerns with the outcomes imposed by Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

The Courier-Mail reports that the Queensland Education Minister, John-Paul Langbroek, has described the response of the majority of states as “bleating” and that “they need to understand and accept the things they cannot change”. His view is clearly out of step with many of his colleagues and perhaps more reflective of the advantage handed to the “stop-out” states by the new government at the expense of those who demonstrated their commitment to the Gonski needs-based funding model before the federal election.

A door-stop interview with the Chair of the Ministerial Committee, NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, provided these thoughtful insights into the outcomes of today’s meeting:

“The Commonwealth has implied that if there is a reduction in funding for states that have signed up that indeed that reduction may well only come out of public schools. That is of concern to all jurisdictions. I sought as Chair some clarification about that but none was forthcoming.”

“The people who should and will be most disappointed are the parents of the children in schools across NSW and the rest of Australia that are going to have now an increased period of uncertainty.”

“The agreement we signed up to in NSW ended the 20 or 30 year war between government and non-government schools over funding. For six months we have had peace around that but unfortunately actions by the Commonwealth have now reignited that and plunged education across this country into unnecessary uncertainty.”

“There is no area of public policy more important than education.”

“You can’t get meaningful and long term change in schools if you only have funding certainty for one year and that’s what we’ve got.”

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, responded in a similar vein:

“The new school funding model that this new government promised that they would implement put aside the divisiveness of the past. The new school funding model that we (Labor) introduced was sector blind.”

“We know that some of the most disadvantaged schools in the country are in the government system and they cannot be pushed aside by this government who have broken promise after promise when it comes to school funding.”

A full video of the interviews with Mr Piccoli and Ms Ellis can be viewed on the ABC News website here.

What is instantly clear is that education, and in particular public education, is set to suffer under the administration of Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The hope that the Gonski funding model would deliver much needed funding to disadvantaged students wherever they go to school seems to have been dashed. Sadly, we can hold little hope that our Queensland Education Minister will fight for education in our state in the magnificent way that his New South Wales colleague is doing.

Kevin Bates
29 November 2013