From the President: No better investment than education

The battle lines for the 2016 federal election had been drawn long before the Prime Minister called the election for 2 July, and education is a headline issue.

This reality is no accident. For the past decade, QTU members and our colleagues around the nation have partnered with parents and community groups to advocate for a needs-based, sector-blind funding model for school education. Before the advent of the Gonski model, we knew that the needs of students in a range of areas were going unmet. David Gonski's report became the rallying point for a renewed and energised campaign that had a defined purpose and comprehensive justification.

Despite several years of opportunities to attack the form and substance of the Gonski model, those who oppose it have little to show for their efforts. The voting public are convinced that a large number of children are being let down by a system that has been starved of resources and has relied on the good will of teachers, principals, parents and community members to prop it up.

The attacks on our profession have hurt us and damaged public perception. They have been deliberate and calculated and they will not stop until this issue is decided. We still have a strong chance to deliver on this once in a generation opportunity to rebuild our education system from the ground up.

You will have lost count of the number of times Gonski has been declared “gone-ski”, and yet the juggernaut continues its inexorable progress towards our ultimate goal. In education terms, this campaign is closely aligned to our experiences in the classroom, where we never ever walk away from the students who most need our help: the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Fundamentally, the political divide in this election is characterised by those who see education as an investment in the social and economic future of our nation and those who focus on the cost. Across the nation in political party strategy meetings, the costs and benefits of supporting or trashing the Gonski school funding model are driving behaviours on the campaign trail. There has never been a better time to execute our plan to achieve equity of opportunity in education, to ensure that every child, regardless of where they go to school, has the benefit of the best possible education and access to all that a 21st century education should be.

One thing remains to be done. Each of us has a clear choice to make in the voting booth. We can choose to support the political parties that will deliver the full benefit of the Gonski model of school funding. We can choose to use our vote to give voice to the work we do every day in communities across the nation to make a better life a real possibility for all Australians. In the House of Representatives and the Senate, every vote will make a difference. The power to deliver change is in your hands.

Kevin Bates                                                                                                               President

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 121 No 4, 3 June 2016, p7