Education should be at the heart of the state election
More than most state elections, the election on 24 March will mark a watershed for Queensland teachers and Queensland state schools.
If the opinion polls are accurate, Queensland will have its first LNP government since the days of Joh Bjelke Petersen (the Borbidge government in the mid-1990s was a minority government depending on independent Liz Cunningham from Gladstone to govern). Throughout the 1980s, under a Coalition government, Queensland teachers were the lowest paid on the Australian mainland.
On education, the policy differences between the LNP and ALP are already stark. The main LNP policy proposal is the creation of independent public schools with a single line budget covering all expenditure, including staffing, and with principals hiring and firing staff. With some rough edges knocked off, it is Leading Schools revisited – which provoked the biggest industrial dispute in the history of Queensland education.
To justify such a radical change the LNP opposition felt it necessary to denigrate state schools, their teachers and students, claiming slipping standards and lagging students.
In contrast, the ALP government has released a discussion paper on school flexibility and decision making, “Local decision: stronger school communities”. It was prepared in consultation with the QTU, principals’ associations and the QCPCA. It acknowledges the good work of state schools and the existing negotiated levels of flexibility and autonomy. It is presented for consultation with the community rather than as a fait accompli (see page 8 for details).
At elections, people, including QTU members, cast their votes for a variety of reasons. Education should be a vital issue for you and the broader community. As it has in the past, the QTU will be campaigning strongly to seek the best possible deal for Queensland state schools, their teachers and students.
In criticising the QTU’s opposition to the release of teaching and learning audit results, The Courier-Mail described the QTU as antediluvian (literally, “before the flood”). In this the paper was unintentionally accurate. The QTU does pre-date even the big floods of the 1890s, being founded in 1889. For over 120 years the QTU has defended schools, teachers and students from bureaucratic error, political interference and media sensationalism. If that is antediluvian, then I for one am antediluvian and proud of it. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol. 117, no.1, 17 Feb 2012, editorial, p.5
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