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Its a Con-ski

By Stephen Elder - posted Monday, 20 April 2015


The shameful tactic by the AEU to drag Catholic education into an industrial agenda wrapped in the cloak of a Gonski campaign is nothing short of a Con-ski.

Make no mistake: the AEU’s interest is funding for the schools that employ their members, not needy kids.

A rally at Parliament House by Victorian state school principals seeking “urgent funding” is the culmination of a long running misinformation campaign led by the AEU. It reared its head again on Monday when Victorian President, Meredith Peace, misleadingly linked non-government school funding legislation with the federal Gonski funding proposal.

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In a bid for newspaper headlines Peace inaccurately stated that Labor’s new legislation would increase inequity in the state’s education system, that it was not sector blind.

 Wrong. If government school funding increases so does non-government school funding. If their funding goes down so does ours. Clearly both sector blind and equitable.

Her inference that non-government schools get more must be quashed. When you include all forms of government funding – state and federal – Victorian Catholic schools still operate on 10% less resources than government schools.

Sadly, the AEU has tried to politicise an issue that received bipartisan support in the Victorian Parliament – something rare in relation to education policy.

Education Minster James Merlino should be applauded for supporting families in their education choice at no cost to the state system. Instead the AEU attacks him for the federal funding debacle.

Does Meredith Peace seriously expect Minister Merlino to fix the Gonski mess that could not be solved by successive Labor Prime Ministers?

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And let’s not pretend that either the Gillard or Rudd education funding policy was truly Gonski – by then it had been politicised to the point where it was recognisable by author’s name only.

If Minister Merlino could revive the true model proposed by David Gonski then he would find no bigger supporter than Catholic education. 

The real Gonski proposal would have seen funding follow a child, meaning that, for the first time, parents of students with a disability could chose a Catholic education without significant financial disadvantage.

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About the Author

Stephen Elder is the Executive Director of Catholic Education.

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All articles by Stephen Elder

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