The Guardian June 20, 2001


Fight for NSW schools

The NSW Government's attack on schools continues despite strong public 
opposition. Maroubra and Hunters Hill high schools are considering strikes 
and legal action to fight their closure. The amalgamation of Dulwich Hill 
and Marrickville high schools is still on the agenda. Under the Carr 
Government's revised "Building the Future" plan, Balmain and Leichhardt 
schools would become coeducational instead of single-sex.

Glebe, Balmain and Leichhardt would form a multi-campus co-educational 
college called Sydney Secondary College, with Balmain and Leichhardt taking 
year 7-10 students and Glebe years 11 and 12.

Leichhardt and Glebe have been promised $6 million each for renovations and 
Balmain $4 million.

The NSW State Government gives $36.4 million each year to private schools 
to fund their capital expansion. When it comes to public schools, despite 
the assurances that the Government is in favour of public education, the 
situation is different.

The sale of some public schools in Sydney to raise money for the 
refurbishment of others is a cynical disregard for the feelings of the 
students, parents, teachers and the communities involved.

As Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon, said: "John Aquilina (NSW Education Minister) 
is forcing public education to cannibalise its own future". Pages and pages 
of letters in local and daily papers have overwhelmingly opposed the sell-
off of schools. As with the Greiner Government, the present right-wing NSW 
Government is in a hurry to get rid of schools on prime real estate.

The public consultation launched by Mr Aquilina turned out to be nothing 
more than a cynical deception, just as the Federal Government's 
"consultation" was when it had already decided to increase military 
spending.

The NSW Education Minister had no intention of taking any notice of what 
teachers, parents and students had to say about the closure of their 
schools.

"Fortunately", says Lee Rhiannon, "Section 28 of the Education Act gives 
(parents, students, teachers and the community) another chance to fight 
back. Under the provisions of the Act, the Minister has to convene a School 
Closures Review Committee for each of the schools he proposes to sell off. 
He has to do this despite telling Parliament the closures are not 
negotiable."

The NSW Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has 
indicated that it will seriously consider banning work on the sites 
earmarked for closure though a formal decision has not yet been taken. The 
Union, however, is prepared to send a signal that it supports those 
opposing the school closures and land sales.

Back to index page