Community stands up for fair funding

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “A small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”. In late April, I met a group of parents in Inala who showed me just what that meant.

More than 20 parents from five Inala schools had come together at Glenala State High School to discuss the the Gonski Report.

In a community which has a significant number of students in the lowest SES quarter, Indigenous students and students with low English proficiency, these parents knew what a difference the implementation of the Gonski recommendations could make for their children.

They were very aware that the national partnership schools are delivering significant benefits for their children and were extremely concerned at the impact that the loss of this funding would have on their children’s schools.

They were excited by the recommendations in the Gonski Report, particularly those related to needs-based funding. They clearly saw the value of a system which used a schools resourcing standard plus weightings for educational disadvantage.

But they are also realists. They understand the precarious position of the current federal government and that Tony Abbott and the Opposition are totally opposed to the Gonski recommendations. That’s why the legislation controlling the way schools are funded must be changed before the next federal election.

With this in mind, they used the meeting to consider questions to be asked of the Federal Minister for Schools Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett, at a schools funding forum.

On the day, these parents formed a significant proportion of the audience at the Oxley “Schools Funding Forum” hosted by member for Oxley, Bernie Rippol, all determined to put their questions and concerns to Mr Garrett. Their questioning and later one-on-one discussions with the Minister ensured that he could be left in no doubt as to their views and the direction they wanted him to take.

In their own small way, this group of thoughtful, articulate, committed parents is working to change the world. Let us as QTU members and teachers help them and other communities do the same.

Barry Welch
Campaign Coordinator

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 4, 1 June 2012, p11