Federation members and staff celebrated Public Education Day today with a morning tea during which they lobbied state and federal representatives to keep faith with the original full Gonski schools funding plan.
General Secretary John Dixon emailed all members to carry out similar action at their workplaces during the recess or lunch break sending out a list of parliamentary contact details to help the cause, reminding teachers that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull planned to cut $846 million from NSW public schools in 2018 and 2019.
Within Federation House, Mr Dixon told members and staff: “I invite you to join me in solidarity with our members in schools to both have morning tea and – with your smart phone in hand – email local MPs. Other devices along with email addresses and suggested wording will be available. We will be joined by members attending the Trade Union Training course.”
At the tea, President Maurie Mulheron’s message to mark Public Education Day was read out:
“Almost 137 years ago the Public Instruction Act of 1880 instituted free, secular and compulsory education to enable children, regardless of religion, race, creed or class, to sit, in the words of Henry Parkes, 'side by side' in their local public school.
“Public Education Day provides an opportunity each year to reflect on the nation-building that starts with children sitting side by side in a public school.
“Public education is profoundly democratic for it does more than educate an individual; it brings together children and young people from a range of diverse backgrounds and creates community. In doing so, public education strengthens the social, economic and cultural fabric of our nation.
“On this day we also recognise that funding to public schools is under attack from those that would seek to increase the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged. Our national TAFE system is being threatened by an ideologically driven market-based model.
“So, on Public Education Day 2017, teachers, parents and community members will continue to fight side by side against the forces of privilege and privatisation.
“This has been our tradition. This will be our pledge.”