Saturday, February 07, 2009

Support South Australian Public Schools

The Australian Education Union (AEU) is running a sophisticated community campaign in an attempt to stop the State Government cutting vital funds to public schools. SA Premier Mike Rann, the self-dubbed "Education Premier", is now running the state with the worst paid teachers and education support staff. In what is effectively a wage freeze, South Australian public education workers have not seen an increase in pay since the beginning of October 2007.

This is in stark contrast with almost all other State and Territory governments who have succumbed to public pressure and an ever-increasing rate of inflation and offered substantial improvements to pay and conditions. Inflation for most of 2008 ran at approximately 5.2 percent. Despite this, Mike "Education" Rann and his team of inept Ministers have made every excuse under the sun in order to keep their offer well below CPI.

The AEU is also seriously concerned about a new funding model touted by the State Government as "student-centred". This couldn't be further from the truth. The funding model proposed would see schools allocated funds on a per-capita basis. While this may sound reasonable or even sensible, the model is seriously flawed.

Currently school staffing is based on enrolment numbers rather than a per-student dollar amount. For example, say the maximum class size is 30 and due to a new enrolment a class gains an extra student. Because that class now exceeds the maximum allowable number of students, the class will be split and become two classes. Under the Government's propsed model, each student will come with a dollar figure attached, somewhere between $2500 and $10,000 dollars - with the average likely to be between four and five thousand dollars. In order to fund a new teacher, a class would need to gain at least ten students before there is enough money available for the school to hire a new teacher.

So, as you can see, the Rann funding model just doesn't add up. Media Mike and his cronies have done a stellar job painting the current dispute as one based on salaries. They have gone to great lengths to label the teachers' claim as greedy and fanciful. Despite their best efforts, the AEU has struggled to defeat the government media spin. The new campaign is a bold and sophisticated attempt at countering Rann's rantings with a web and advertising based campaign in the community.

Click here to go the Apple for Teacher website. When you arrive, click on the links on the right-hand side of the page in order to sign the petition and send an e-apple to the four key government ministers. Oh, and don't be surprise when you receive a message from so-called Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith telling you that it's not her problem. Her stock email response states that the dispute sits outside the Education portfolio and to direct all correspondence to Industrial Relations Minister Paul Caica. Such is the value this government places on our children's futures.

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