To Gonski or not to Gonski. That is the Question.

· Education Reform, Election
Author

Look at the facts.  Australia primary and secondary education is going backwards in relation to other countries.  We can either do something about it or not.  The Labor Government decided they would do something about it.

The first step was to call in some experts and do a review of what needed to happen.  Enter David Gonski.  His task was to listen to all the points of view, separate the vested interests from the knowledgeable views, and make recommendations.  So far it was relatively straight forward.

The next two steps were the tricky ones.  Finding the money and getting States to agree to implement the changes detailed in the Gonski education reforms.  Add to this a change of PM in the middle of the process.

There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  To get money a government either have to raise taxes or divert money from somewhere else.  Labor looked at other sources and decided to get the money from a few other sectors.

Let me ask you this.  If you had to swing the balance slightly one way or the other, would you swing towards a better primary and secondary education system or towards the university education system.  Since everyone uses schools, it is important we get that right even if it has a slightly detrimental impact on universities.  Remember that universities don’t just teach students, they spend considerable funds on research.  If there is a reduction in funding to universities, perhaps they have to choose how to implement those cuts – student education and/or research.  They have to make the same hard decisions governments have had to make.

Now to the States.  With the majority Liberal controlled, and an election in September, we started off with a number of reasons why they might not sign up.

  • There was a vested interest in seeing Gonski fail in order to damage Federal Labor.
  • Some states will get less than others because the intention is to get everyone to the same level.  Some, like WA, are closer to that level than others like NSW
  • Some states believed that holding out would give them  a better bargaining position
  • Stalling may mean that if the Liberals take power in September, nothing will happen.  They will not have to contribute to better education.

Sorry, but it is about the kids.  Our kids.  If we are to make progress, the States have to sign up.  There is no alternative on the table.  The coalition do not have an education policy they are prepared to talk about other to agree to four years of what Labor propose.  Labor have a policy put together after one of the most extensive reviews ever undertaken.  What else is there to do?

Why did Tony Abbott not say to the Liberal Premiers
“Support Gonski education reforms because it is the right thing to do.”
The only conclusion you can draw is that he would modify the Gonski education reforms if elected through subtle cutbacks.  He is already hedging his bets by saying he would only guarantee four years, not six.  Put us back on the path of declining education standards.

I fail to see how a Liberal or National party member can look their children in the eye, and say they did not support improving their kid’s education system.  Do you think they will respect you in years to come for your lack of action?