Schools Labor values? What values?

To condemn the Prime Minister and the federal Labor Party as a disgrace on the basis that they seem more interested in serving their own political needs than meeting the needs of Australia’s public school students and its dedicated workforce is to ignore the facts.

It is not simply a disgrace when the political party that has always touted itself as the champion and supporter of public education so openly abandons such a core value. It is a betrayal. A betrayal of public school communities – of our students and their families, and of every AEU teacher, principal, and education support staff member. Prime Minister Albanese should be ashamed.

The ALP’s National Platform, adopted last August, solidifies the school funding malarkey they spouted prior to the 2022 election:

Labor will work with states and territories to implement a properly funded national needs-based and sector-blind school funding model, to ensure that: a. all schools are on a path to fair and full funding that meets the needs of all students; and b. disadvantaged schools get the biggest funding increases in the shortest time, tied to practical reforms.

What the…? A “path” for “all schools”, with “disadvantaged schools [to] get the biggest funding increases in the shortest time”? All public schools are, by definition, disadvantaged – especially now, given the length of time they’ve had to function without adequate funding and the cumulative effects of this delay.

Our schools don’t need to be a “put on a path”. What public schools need is a fast-track to the destination: full funding for all.

The Report of the Independent Expert Panel’s Review of school funding, released in December, rightly said that “a first step” towards funding equity “must be to ensure that all schools have access to 100% of Schooling Resource Standard funding as soon as possible”, but it has just been revealed that bilateral agreements between the federal, state, and territory governments were signed without public announcements late last year, delivering no increased funding from the Victorian government for the state’s public schools in 2024, and no increase in the Commonwealth’s share until 2025.

The AEU has called for full funding by no later than 2028. But federal education minister Jason Clare is having a bet each way, saying he supports full funding for public schools while only endorsing an additional 2.5% – thereby simultaneously obstructing the very thing he claims to support. 

Premier Allan and her government also claim to support the full funding of public schools. So, when will she step up? 

Currently, Victorian public schools are only funded to 90.4% of the schooling resource standard. Funding delayed is funding denied. If both levels of government continue to block the “path” to full funding, it will be a betrayal of our schools – and of Labor’s core values – on a grand scale. All eyes on you, Premier Allan.

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