While the Federal Government’s refusal to fund the full six years of the Gonski funding agreement might be viewed as thrifty by some, there are others who argue that it is anything but.
Leading voices in public education, such as the Australian Education Union (AEU) warn that the long-term impact that comes with denying struggling schools the full six years of the funding is more expensive – both financially and socially.
Merrylands High School principal and NSW Secondary Principals Council (NSWSPC) president, Lila Mularczyk told The Educator that through committing to an “internationally recognised” funding model, the Federal Government could show good leadership and be a global example.
“PM Turnbull and Federal Education Minister Birmingham have the opportunity to lead the nation – and indeed be an example globally,” she said.
“The NSW education funding reform model, political and education community leadership is strongly recognised internationally. Australia as a nation could be too.”
She said that through “evidence and narratives” the funding model had already proven to be effective in NSW and SA, the two states that are currently receiving the funding as informed by the principles of the Gonski recommendation.
“In NSW we have the evidence and narratives flooding in from schools already. The evidence is strong and compelling. Gonski can and is making a significant difference,” Mularczyk said.
“We need the full six years of Gonski funding to ensure certainty and that we reach a minimum resource standard for all schools and access for all students.”
This week Mularczyk was invited to Tasmania to speak with her colleagues on the effect that targeted Gonski funding had on various schools in the state.
“I would welcome sharing the story of my school and thousands of others in NSW to our new PM and Federal Education Minister to illustrate what is already being achieved,” Mularczyk said.
“Imagine the possibility for all students most in need if the Federal Coalition honoured the National Education Reform Agreement [NERA] and showed they valued all young people in all schools.
“The withdrawal at a Federal Government level from NERA is indefensible.”
As Gonski Week draws to a close, Mularczyk said schools and communities should mobilise to ensure that calls for better funding and resourcing are taken seriously by our leaders.
Mularczyk pointed to Tuesday night’s #GonskiWeek tweetathon which was aimed at showing the impact the funding has had on student achievement over the past two years and to urge the Federal Government to fund the full six years of the program.
“I think the tweetathon was one example of the breadth and depth of commitment of educators, parents and the public to valuing education,” Mularczyk said.
“That social phenomenon indicated the community capacity to commit to continuing pressure on the Federal Government to invest in education.”
NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) president, Maurie Mulheron, said the willingness of Australians to participate in the tweetathon reflected “the enthusiasm and strong support for the full funding of the Gonski model”.
"I find it extraordinary that some politicians would be willing to face a parent to say, 'we will no longer be funding the Gonski model that has made so much difference to your child’s life',” Mulheron said in a statement.