AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS - D.O.G.S.
PRESS RELEASE 133#.
26 January 2006
COUNTRY PARENTS AT TATONG VICTORIA FIGHT
TO SAVE THEIR LOCAL STATE SCHOOL
This Press Release should be read together with the two previous Press Releases. It represents a case study which illustrates the problems many State schools parents will face under the dual attack of both the Capital Investment and Access Planning Policy and the proposed Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority. These were dealt with in Press Releases 132 and 131 respectively.
The Weekly Times in at least two issues during December 2005, dealt with the vow of the parents of the Tatong State School to save their little country school. A report on December 21 2005 noted that:
"The parents at Tatong in North East Victoria have vowed to keep up the fight to save their school but Tatong Primary School will not re-open unless a deadlock over its future can be resolved."
Campbell Griffin said that the community had been led to believe that it could open as a stand alone school and funding would not be a problem if it could establish it had a "good business"
'We proved Tatong could be viable, but the Department has decided not to accept that view', Mr. Griffin said.
'The Department said it did not close schools against parents wishes, yet it is doing exactly that'. He said the group had worked hard to gather community support and gain pledges from parents to send their children to the school. Others in the community had offered cash and volunteer teaching to ensure the school was viable...The Tatong community feels thoroughly let down."
In a letter in the paper a week later, Mark Saunders, a local proposal committee member, wrote a letter under the title, "A School of Hard Knocks" :
"the Department 's Hume Regional Director recommended that the school be closed and pointed out that the recommendation in several instances was based on wrong information and contradicts information the department provided the local proposal committee while compiling the business case for the school. The local committee was presented with an operating budget for the school and told that funding would not be an issue. However, the Director indicated that funding was an issue, claiming it would cost the Department less to educate the children elsewhere $71,000 to relocate and $159,000 to keep Tatong open. But the $71,000 does not include transport costs which, by the Department's own figures would be a minimum of $80,000. What a tragedy it will be if this tremendous asset falls prey to bureaucratic madness that appears to rely on hearsay rather than needs of rural children."
The mention of a "business plan" reminds us of the Age's report on the mysterious and presently unavailable "Capital Investment and Access Planning Policy" dealt with in our Press Release 132. The Age report mentioned "Schools developing a convincing business case". It seems that already Bracks and Kosky are promoting the treatment of education as a private "business" where financial efficiencies and in the corporate world, profits, matter more than opportunities of our children. If Bracks and Kosky are determined to follow Blair and Kelly, our State Schools can be "failed" and handed over to private corporations with good "business plans"! Still operating at taxpayer's expense of course.
How will these battling country bush schools, many of which have already closed, fare under the proposed Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority? It would be in their interests to oppose the Education and Training Reform Bill immediately.
Country Schools: A Special Case
When the public school system is corporatised and privatised under the new Education and Training Bill, it is the country children and disadvantaged children in the big city who will suffer most grievously. In the last twenty years many local country schools have been closed and children bussed for long hours each day to larger schools. In desperation, some parents are forced into home schooling or baording schools as the only way to save their small children from extensive, expensive, dangerous, and tiring journeys.
The public system was and always has been the only one which serviced the far flung settlements of outback Australia. The private sector has never been interested in schools where the economies of scale and wealth are not worth their while. Nor are they interested in disadvantaged or disruptive children who have been traumatised too early by the school of hard knocks. Only the State system has been accessible for all and any of our children. It has been the cornerstone of our democracy, bringing together of so many of our children together from so many lands, languages and cultures, in both the city and the country. "Business plans" are irrelevant, indeed outrageously indecent, if related to the human social investment and capital, not to mention community prosperity our public system provides.
Yet the Kosky administration is already imposing "business plans" upon schools which cater for our country children!
Her new legislation seeks to enshrine the right of parents to choose a school for their children. This takes precedence over the basic rights of children to a local public school of the highest quality. And even when it comes to parents rights, it seems that what she really means is the right of insecure middle class parents to choose a first class ticket to heaven and the good job for their children at the expense of those who are less fortunate.
So in practice, in the brave new world of Kosky's Education and Training Reform Bill, and her School Closure Policy some parents and their children are more equal than others. And it is not difficult to sort the out the ones which are redundant in the brave new world of Bracks/Kosky privatisation policy.
For further discussion on these matters, listen to 3CR, 855 on the am dial
12.30 p.m. next Saturday.
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|Last modified:Thursday, 26 January 2006|