In responding to the proposed funding cut by the NSW Government, Lila Mularczyk, President of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council (SPC) said that the provision of education to its young people is among the highest obligations any government has. As such, she said: “it should also be among its highest priorities for budgetary allocation and one of the ‘hills to die on’ when considering whether to give attention to matters of notional budget deficits or credit rating agencies.” Given that Australia is one of the lowest-taxing nations in the OECD in comparison to its GDP, we have to deplore any move to cut or redirect money from education.
As recently as last year, a major funding review found that education across Australia was underfunded by around $6.5bn in today’s terms. Ms Mularczyk pointed out that the NSW share of that amount is comparable with the amount that the government is now proposing to cut from our schools. “This means that NSW schools will now be doubly underfunded compared to other states” she said. As the Gonski review identified, economic success comes from educational investment and all governments need to acknowledge, accept and respond constructively to that finding.
Whilst public school principals welcome the opportunity to consult and make some local decisions with and on behalf of school communities we cannot do that in the context of reduced funding. Given that Australia has one of the best-performing economies in the developed world, we don’t believe that we should have to.
The history of the government’s negotiations with non-government schools on this matter also raises questions about the Premier’s stated commitment to the principles of the Gonski Review of school funding, Ms Mularczyk said. “For instance, if Mr O’Farrell accepts the notion of funding linked to disadvantage, how can he now support a measure that cuts funding on a per capita basis across all sectors?”.
On an extremely dark day for NSW public education the SPC looks forward to an early opportunity to raise these and other questions about the funding cuts directly with government, Ms Mularczyk said.
Lila (Liliana) Mularczyk JP
Principal, Merrylands High School
President, The NSW Secondary Principals’ Council NSW ACEL Executive