“I want to have a direct relationship with the non-government sector…Having talked to the Prime Minister about this matter many times, it is his view that we have a particular responsibility for non-government schooling that we don’t have for government schooling.”
-Christopher Pyne, Education and Training Minister
Recently I wrote a series of articles regarding initial teacher education (ITE) (the first of which can be viewed here), which included an article discussing the public perception of education and teachers, and the relationship that education and the teaching profession have with the current Education and Training Minister, Christopher Pyne (which can be viewed here). This series generated some insightful discussion around ITE and the public perception of education, and I had intended for this article to be a continuation of that conversation, based on themes which emerged from responses I received.
However a newspaper article has emerged overnight which has created a storm of controversy all over social media which requires discussion. My Twitter and Facebook feeds were inundated with postings of the article and comments regarding the decision which the government is considering adoption as to Commonwealth funding for education. If you have not yet read the article, here are the key points (in my opinion) of contention that have emerged:
It must be pointed out that the government has indicated that this is only a green paper. My understanding, and I am happy to be corrected, is that a green paper is an introductory discussion paper used to test the waters on a concept. It must also be noted that it is a green paper on Federation Reform generally, not education specifically. Even with that in mind, given the four options that have emerged from this green paper in regards to education, there is certainly cause for concern. This article will make a start on unpacking the potential ramifications for each of the emergent themes.
Ultimately, this latest political uproar raises further questions about what kind of society the Abbot-led government wants. They were thwarted in their attempt to push through a user-pays fee for our universal healthcare system last year, touted as a GP co-payment, and the deregulation of tertiary education fees is ongoing, and now this has emerged. My interpretation is that Abbot and co are attempting to return us to a time of aristocracy, with more distinct upper and lower classes defined by economic standing and education. It is an erosion of the basic principles of democracy as well; I highly doubt you will find many people who believe that withdrawing Commonwealth funding for our students education is a positive decision.
This is a critical time to be involved in the education discussion. It is incumbent upon us all to be involved, and to be informed. Allowing the government to roughshod over the needs of the public in this case will have critical and dire affects on our country’s future, economically and socially.
I implore everyone to contact their Member for Parliament (if you are not sure who your member is, click here and scroll down to the search box) and question them as to how removing Commonwealth funding, which seems to be the ultimate goal, can be beneficial for the country. Let them know that you want your child to have access to the same thing that we all did – free public education. To send a message via the GetUp campaign, click here. If you want to read a different perspective, I would suggest this article by Glenn Savage or this article by Stewart Riddle (re-posted by Corinne Campbell)
Let your voice be heard.