Australia: government urged to halt underfunding of public schools!

published 27 August 2018 updated 18 September 2018

The Australian Education Union has called on educators and concerned citizens to add their names to an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling for more funding to be allocated to public schools and towards bringing special support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) strongly regrets that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s schools funding model cuts $1.9 billion from public education in 2018 and 2019; students from disadvantaged backgrounds being most affected by these cuts. At the same time, the government plans to considerably increase funding to private schools.

This funding must be restored to public schools by the Turnbull Government. That is why the trade union has called for support for public education through signing before 12pm local time on 21 August its open letter calling for the Turnbull Government to end private-school special funding deals. More than 5500 people have already signed it.

Under the Turnbull Government’s current schools funding arrangement, 70 percent of private schools will receive extra funding via special funding deals with Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham. However, according to media reports, private schools soon stand to get even more money if the Turnbull Government signs yet another private school special funding deal to alleviate political pressure in the lead up to the next Federal election.

In a public statement dated 9 August, AEU reaffirms that “our public school system welcomes each and every child that arrives at the front gate. Public schools are our universal education choice, a path to success for all. The Prime Minister’s highest priority should be to restore the $1.9 billion in funding he took from the public school budget for 2018 and 2019.”

This funding could be used to employ more specialist staff, such as literacy and numeracy coordinators or speech pathologists, or provide more support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, for children with disabilities, for children who live in rural, regional and remote communities, or for children who live in poverty.

“Needs-based school funding is about providing additional resources where they are needed most, not propping up private schools which are already significantly advantaged by the Turnbull Government’s funding arrangements,” the trade union concludes.