EDUCATOR RUDD

With the AEU Federal Conference held in Sydney last week concluded and a new school year dawning, the education fraternity awaits with interest as to what difference the Rudd Government will make to education. Prominent well respected Australian educationalist Lyndsay Connors believes the time is right for an education reconciliation, between the way we fund our schools and the purposes we want them to serve. Whatever choices parents make for their children, they make them in a public policy framework that is set by governments and it is that framework, and in particular the role of Federal Governments during the last decade, that has given many of us cause for concern. Federal funding policies for schools have in recent years developed an inbuilt indifference to public education. Lyndsay believes that indifference has now reached a point where the Commonwealth's neglect of public schools is expressed through silence on the value of public education and through a program of schools funding that fails to acknowledge the clear, legal responsibilities that are unique to public schools. We require a high quality, intelligent, rational system of schooling that can ensure our public resources are used wisely and well. Many would agree with her that the time has come to let our representatives in all political parties understand that we have had enough of Commonwealth funding policies that are putting our public schools at risk. Research by Barbara Preston using 2006 Census data reveals the growing divide that has occurred under the Howard Government. Since 1996 the ratio of low income to high income families in public primary schools has increased by 11% and decreased by 9% in private schools, dramatically affecting the social makeup of our schools. Action is needed as it is the future of our nation’s children that is at stake. Terry Polglase AEU Federal Conference Delegate