Public School Funding

Tit for tat political commentary is welcomed when light rather than heat and confusion is disseminated. Senator Barnett (Letters April 28) rightly corrected Senator Polley’s (Letters April 28) inaccurate assertion that under the Howard Government, public school funding has reduced by some 35%. In fact it is the proportion of the split in funding that goes towards public rather than private schools that has reduced by 35%, a scandalous situation and something Senator Barnett did not bother to mention. He then went on to explain why those in government schools should feel grateful to have such a benevolent federal government and how the State Labor Government is not doing enough. More than 70% of the 65 Tasmanian principals who completed the 2006 State Of Our Schools Survey would disagree with the Senator as they rated the Federal Government’s performance as ‘poor’ or the extreme option ‘very poor’, the highest of any state. He is right in the latter however. Sue Napier pointed this out in a media release berating the government as recurrent spending per student is around 7% below the national average. Sue did not however make any statement as to whether her government would remedy the situation when or if the Liberals win the next election. She did go on to say that her government would increase the assistance to private schools for building works by some 200% and assistance to children with special needs attending private schools by some 800% over four years. Senator Barnett went on to mention the much welcomed IIOS Program that has distributed funds to all schools for school improvements. The money is unfortunately but cleverly allocated to both public and private sectors according to student numbers, and then via submissions according to need. Schools that have a higher need will therefore miss out if one sector has proportionally more schools with greater needs. Funding, from all governments, must be used to ensure every child receives what they need to attend regularly, become literate and remain connected contributors to society irrespective of sector. Policy and commentary based on this premise would be well received by all as we head towards a federal election.

Terry Polglase
AEU Principals Committee