QTU President's comment - 3 May 2013

School closures - Words of wisdom from The Courier-Mail!

KBates-300.jpgEarlier this week The Courier-Mail published the results of a Right to Information request which revealed the plans of the Newman LNP government to close and sell off schools and school land around the state.

While the QTU is not opposed to the rationalisation of schools as a concept, any undertaking by government in this regard must be a part of an educationally driven process based on effective consultation with communities, teachers and principals. To argue, as the LNP government does, that closing schools is an effective measure to increase economic prosperity is not supported by the evidence.

It must be remembered by those in power that schools are a community asset, part of the fabric of society. Schools have existed in many Queensland communities for as much as 150 years. The closure and sale of schools for a quick profit is short-sighted in the extreme. The Queensland Government must look to the long term needs of the community in a planned and reasoned process, not just a burst associated with the three-year political cycle.

As the “water torture” of school closure rumours creates anxiety and even despair in communities everywhere, it is refreshing to hear words of wisdom from the Editor of The Courier-Mail. Several statements stand out in what is generally a positive piece of commentary on an important issue for Queensland education.

“What is of possible concern is when management of education assets becomes more a matter of pure economics than service outcomes.”

“To describe a school as ‘‘unviable’’, while perhaps arguably correct in a profit and loss sense, is dehumanising when we are talking about investing in the future via the education of our next generation.”

“The closure, downsizing and merger of schools must be handled carefully and with meaningful two-way consultation, given the impact such moves can have on community lives.”

(The Courier-Mail, 3 May 2013 - Read the full opinion piece here)

We await the decisive action of the government to end the worry of students, parents, teachers and principals and genuine engagement with communities about the future of their schools.

Kevin Bates