The Honourable Barry O’Farrell MP
Premier NSW Minister for Western Sydney
Dear Mr O’Farrell,
The NSW Public Education Alliance vehemently opposes the funding cuts to education by the state government.
The Public Education Alliance represents 760,000 students, public school families, 65,000 school teachers and over 2,200 principals comprising:
- Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of NSW;
- NSW Primary Principals’ Association;
- NSW Public Schools Principals Forum;
- NSW Secondary Principals’ Council; and
- NSW Teachers Federation.
The government is responsible for developing our social capital and ensuring we remain internationally competitive.
The NSW Education Act (1990) provides:
“it is the duty of the State to ensure that every child receives an education of the highest quality”, and further:
“the principal responsibility of the State in the education of children is the provision of public education”.
[Part 2: “Objects of the Act”: section 4(c), (d)]
It follows from its own legislation that the education of its young people is among the highest of government obligations in NSW.
Therefore, the education of children should also be among its highest priorities for budgetary allocation when considering whether to give attention to matters of choices, priorities, notional budget deficits or the questionable determinations of credit rating agencies. Given that overall taxation in Australia is among the lowest per capita in the OECD in comparison to its GDP, we have to deplore any move to cut or redirect money from education.
Just a few months ago, the Gonski funding review reported that education across Australia was underfunded by $6.5 billion in today’s terms. The NSW share of that amount appears comparable with the amount that the government is now proposing to cut from our schools. This means that NSW public schools – already seriously underfunded – will now suffer a double hit. As the Gonski Review identified, economic success relies on educational investment and all governments need to acknowledge, accept and respond constructively to that finding. The funding cuts are directly subversive to these aims.
How can the government claim that these cuts will not affect the delivery of public education? Schools maintain their high standards through a reliance on the professionalism of our teachers and the goodwill of our communities. The cuts appear to coincide with the government’s determination to pass more responsibility and the associated (mainly administrative) workload to schools. Given that Australia has one of the best-performing economies in the developed world, the Public Education Alliance doesn’t believe that we should have to struggle with less funding.
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. We are also dismayed that, having heralded the cuts, the government very quickly made a significant concession to the non-government sector. The Public Education Alliance demands the government gives priority to our public school communities. Discussions with the Premier have given no comfort that any of these concerns have had any influence on the government’s determination to evade its legal and ethical responsibilities of providing the highest quality of Public Education to its young people who attend government schools.
Lililana Mularczyk JP, President: NSW Secondary Principals’ Council
Jim Cooper, President: NSW Primary Principals’ Association
Cheryl McBride, President: NSW Public Schools Principal Forum
Lyall Wilkinson, President: Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of NSW
Maurie Mulheron, President: NSW Teachers’ Federation