The Education State. Or the state of Education.

Changing tact from my usual conversation. More pretties tomorrow I promise.

When I stood for the Victorian state upper house last year, I was lucky enough to attend a meeting our local private school principals and independent school union reps to discuss The Greens education policies, and the needs/wants of the private sector. It was very civilized with coffee and delicious morning snacks. I was seated, alone, on one side of a rectangle, and the principles sat in a u=shape before me. In my opening address, I disclosed that I was a student teacher (and truthfully, I had already worked with debate teams at every school present in some form) and so from then on it felt like one long job interview.

I was very much not in my tree-hugging-hippie form. I was classy but progressive lady to the max.

The things they lobbied for included inclusion of the ELC program with childcare rebates (we agreed on principle, but is a federal issue), keeping the EMA for parents (Greens policy, so agree), and keep their ability to discriminate in their hiring policies (Ahhh, No.) Until the last point, it was very agreeable. As I predicted, they very much knew that I would not have any of the last point so it was only allocated about 5 minutes of discuss at the end. I particularly enjoyed calling them out on labelling that proposal a “Labor Policy” when then-education-spokesperson Sue Pennicuik had table that motion at least 3 times over the past 4 years.

During our meeting they did not ask for an increase in funding. Certainly they did not campaign that they were struggling, or that their parents were struggling to pay fees. The documents I was forwarded, and what had been discussed, was the agenda duplicated at every meeting that a candidate accepted. It was statewide.

This Thursday, 80 public school principals will arrive at Parliament House to ask the Andrews government why they made a promise to make Victoria the “Education” state in the lead up to November 29, and why he feels it is appropriate to increase private school funding to a level measurable with 25% of the entire state school funding.

State school teachers pay for their own laptops (what other industry forces their staff to provide their own work station??), Schools have to purchase their own specified report writing software (rather than the state purchasing bulk licenses), we no longer have funding in VCAL, a program for more vocationally talented students to receive quality training and workplace preparation. As our state system continues to decline, we cannot expect the private sector to pick up the pieces. Our private system is at capacity, as parents turn away from under performing state schools in our outer suburbs. The state has a responsibility to provide, and that means fund, high quality education for the workforce of tomorrow.

Picking a high school has and is currently the hardest job of parenting so far. I am so overwhelmed with what the ‘right’ choice will be, what we can afford, and whats going to be best for my daughters.

We are so lucky in this country, that this choice should be easy. We have so many more opportunities then other parts of this world. But here I am, stuck looking at a system that places a far greater worth on further university study than is necessary, and a wide variety of schools in my area that may not have the support structure to see them through to this requirement, in the area they want to learn.

It just shouldn’t be this difficult. And the government should be committed to providing an easier pathway for my future taxpayers.

Enough ranting for tonight. Mascara review tomorrow? It’s date! 😉



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