From the VP: The best choice? Public and local!
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 8, 2 November 2018, page no. 9
There’s been a lot of talk about school choice recently, with the Morrison government funnelling $4.6 billion into private schools over the next 10 years, including a new $1.2 billion fund from 2020 that can only be accessed by private schools to support “choice and affordability”.
The question one must ask upon observing such huge amounts of federal money being directed into private schools is why has the government not announced a huge injection of funds for state schools, given the overwhelming majority of people choose public education for their kids?
My son Archie finishes primary school at the end of this term. He attends our local state school and will next year attend our local high school. And I could not be happier with my choice to send him to the local school. Earlier on in his primary school life, there were some struggles with literacy. Archie’s teacher diagnosed some problems and advocated for him to receive some additional support. Luckily for Archie, at the time that he needed that additional support, the first of the so-called Gonski federal funds were arriving in his school, distributed through the state government under a program called the Great Results Guarantee. The targeted support Archie received as a result of these additional funds saw him move ahead in leaps and bounds, and while he has to work hard to see good academic results, it is sobering to consider what school may have looked like for him had he not had the special combination of a teacher who identified a problem and became his advocate and the funding available in the school to provide the resources to address his needs. The Fair Funding Now! campaign is our opportunity to ensure that school funding goes where the need is greatest and that state schools – who educate the vast majority of Australian children – receive their fair share.
The teachers at Archie’s school have inspired in him a love of learning and a positive approach to schoolwork that has encouraged him to believe that hard work pays off, that persistence brings reward and that it is okay to take a risk. They’ve been there to provide him with opportunities to develop creativity, critical thought and a well-honed sense of humour. They’ve made him feel visible and understood. And if they’ve done it for him, I can be sure that they have done it for others – what a fortunate group of students they are.
Teaching the curriculum and encouraging students to achieve to the best of their ability is, of course, at the centre of the purpose of schooling. But my local state school has done that and so much more for my son. As I’ve watched him move through the primary school years, I’ve seen him develop to be a caring and compassionate individual, to display kindness, to be inquisitive and to know how to deal with both disappointments and victories with dignity. Sure, some of that is in his innate personality, some of it is a result of the home environment he enjoys, but I can say with confidence that his primary school years have had a huge impact on the person he is and will continue to contribute to the person he will become.
Primary school teachers and leaders do an incredibly important, exhausting, gratifying and at times heartbreaking job. I’ve observed all of that and more as the high school teacher parent of primary school kids.
To the teachers who have brought so much to my boy and to those doing the same in schools across Queensland, I say a heartfelt thank you. I couldn’t have made a better choice than to send him to our local state primary school.