Write the wrongs: better use of resources to redress funding

While NSW public schools have a $622 million maintenance backlog and governments choose to instead pour money into private schools, members should be speaking regularly with parents about funding, Federation President Maurie Mulheron said.

“For this to be a sustained campaign, we have to have this as an agenda item every time we get a group of public education people together,” he said.

“Whenever schools in the non-government sector have a meeting of parents, funding is the issue they talk about. Yet, meetings of our P&Cs sometimes spend time talking about the selling of chocolates to raise $280 while the private school down the road is being handed $280,000 by the state government. Teachers and parents need to work together on the issue of funding.”

The Daily Telegraph (10 September) reported that Loreto Kirribilli had issued a building fund donation form with a tick box for a $1 million donation.

“Say to the parents, don’t spend an hour talking about chocolate raffles or the next sausage sizzle at Bunnings, spend that hour writing letters to your local MP,” Mr Mulheron said.

“We’ve got to try and keep our parents engaged in the campaign.”

Mr Mulheron said Australian Education Union representatives continue to lobby politicians, reminding them that public education supporters will not allow the issue to go away until equitable funding is achieved for public schools.

“We’ve got a political system that says some children deserve [funding] and the majority don’t,” he said. “We’ve got adults who have been elected to parliament with the express purpose of doing their best to ensure that children who come from an advantaged background will maintain that advantage and that privilege throughout their life and use funding to do it.”

Not a single dollar in federal capital works funding will go to public schools in the next 10 years, yet $1.9 billion will go to private schools.

Meanwhile the Berejiklian Government has allocated $500 million over four years in capital funding for non-government schools to build, extend or upgrade their facilities.

In 2017, the NSW Auditor-General stated: “Many [NSW public] schools have more students than can be accommodated in existing classrooms, and demountables are widely used for extended periods.

“The condition of classrooms has been declining due to insufficient maintenance, and many are not configured to support contemporary and desired future learning and teaching methods.”

— Kerri Carr