The Guardian November 22, 2000


Queensland teachers defend public education

Queensland teachers continue their campaign against the Federal 
Government's decision to grant rich private schools massive funding 
increases.

State school teachers are currently voting on resolutions that condemn the 
Commonwealth's decision to boost elite school coffers by millions of 
dollars each year.

Queensland Teachers' Union Vice-President Steve Ryan said the Howard 
Government's policies amounted to a clear attempt to starve state schools 
of funds.

The teachers' campaign will involve writing to and sending delegations to 
Federal MPs and setting up groups in electorates to campaign in the lead-up 
to the Federal election.

Anger in the public education system and the community at large centres on 
the government's State Grants (Primary and Secondary Education) Bill 2000.

The Bill will deliver 65 per cent of the Federal education budget to 
private schools which educate only 30 per cent of students.

The proportion of recurrent Federal funding going to private schools has 
increased from 0 per cent in the 1970s, to around 50 per cent in 1982, to 
57 per cent in 1996, to 65 per cent by 2003.

Mr Ryan said it was impossible for the Federal Government to justify a 
policy that gave millions more to rich private schools and crumbs to state 
schools.

"State school parents will rightly ask why wealthy schools which charge up 
to $12,000 a year or more in fees get million dollar windfalls of 
taxpayers' money", said Mr Ryan.

Mr Ryan called on the Federal Government to bow to community pressure and 
redraft the legislation.

"Teachers are angry that private schools are increasingly being given all 
the money but have none of the responsibilities of state schools", Mr Ryan 
concluded.

Unless enough pressure can be exerted on the Government and Labor Senators, 
the Bill looks set to pass through both Houses, as ALP leader Kim Beazley 
has given it his blessing.

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