For everyone A new dawn for public education

  • By Rachel Power
  • This article was published more than 1 year ago.
  • 7 Jul 2022

The AEU is urging the incoming Labor government to prioritise public education funding and policy reform as a matter of urgency, calling for clear timelines on pre-election promises, and a significant expansion of Labor’s progressive policies for education. 

“The outgoing Coalition government has been systematically undermining public schools, preschools and TAFE for almost a decade,” said AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe the day after the federal election. “Yesterday, Australians said, ‘No more!’

“This is a vote of confidence in preschools, public schools and TAFE, and it’s a vote of confidence in the fundamental principle of equity in education.”

The AEU hosted a Public Education Summit on 26 May, where speakers – including prominent academics, economists, education experts and union leaders – pressed the need for major reforms, presenting compelling national and international evidence on the social and economic benefits of a respected and well-resourced public education system. 

“Today, our members feel a new sense of hope for what will be possible for public education with the incoming Labor government led by Prime Minister Albanese, whose vision for our nation was summed up by the phrase in his election night speech: ‘No one held back, no one left behind’, said AEU’s Correna Haythorpe.

To make this vision a reality, the new government must address the deep inequality faced by Australia’s students by investing in public education and the teaching profession.

“In order to make this vision a reality, the new government must address the deep inequality faced by Australia’s students by investing in public education and the teaching profession.”

New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the AEU’s Public Education Summit that the “dawn of a new federal Labor government is a great time to acknowledge and emphasise the role of public education.”

Prior to the election, Labor pledged to guarantee universal access to 15 hours of preschool a week for all three- and four-year-olds; investing a minimum of 70% government funding to the public TAFE system; and increasing funding for public schools to ensure all schools receive, at a minimum, 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

Victoria’s public schools face a dire funding shortfall of almost $20 billion by 2029 under the Coalition’s prevailing funding model, while private schools would be overfunded by almost $400 million.

An open letter signed by 24 community organisations has called for Albanese to ensure all public schools get 100% of the SRS and to establish a Commonwealth fund for infrastructure, to ensure schools are equipped for the predicted boom in student enrolments.

“Public education is a public good that has the power to transform lives by providing the highest quality education for all students irrespective of their background or circumstances,” said Haythorpe.

“Every day, our members go to work in preschools, schools and TAFE institutions around the country with hope for their students and communities, determination to ensure every student has the best opportunities to thrive and a vision for the future of our nation – one that will go on to be created by the students they teach.

“Now is the time for Labor to right the Morrison government’s wrongs and create a fair funding system for Australia’s education system.”

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