Tanya Plibersek gets honest on the very real consequences of education cuts.

Tanya Plibersek explains the challenges parents will face with government cuts to education funding.

There’s a fair amount of parental brain space taken up with your kids’ schooling: Which school? Have they got a good teacher this year? How do I contribute to the school fete given my limited cooking/sewing/spruiking abilities?

The questions we have about our own kids’ education are the questions we should ask about the education system which serves all our children.

Tanya Plibersek says government cuts to education will put more pressure on parents.

One of my favourite quotes is from the American philosopher John Dewey who said: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children.”

Education has an unmatched power to create opportunities, to ignite aspirations, to transform lives. To, borrowing the words of Gough Whitlam, liberate talents and uplift horizons. 

In Australia, students who finish year 12, or equivalent, will earn at least 10% more a week than those who dropped out in Year 10.

Poor results in literacy and numeracy are linked to youth unemployment, with those effects lasting well past school.

To make sure every child has a great education, we need to make sure all our schools, both public and private, have the support they need to be the best they can be. Every school should be a great school.

That’s why the Labor Government changed how we funded schools. We said more money was important, but that distributing it fairly was too.

Put simply, the data shows that poorer schools tend to achieve poorer results, while richer schools (public or private) tend to perform better. So, Labor’s plan was to give the most funding to the schools that need the most help, and to give school leaders more say over how that funding was spent. Makes sense, right?

We thought so, parents thought so, teachers thought so. And when Tony Abbott was trying to win an election back in 2013, he thought so too. In fact, before the last election he said he was on a ‘unity ticket’ with Labor on school funding. After the election, however, Tony Abbott broke that promise and scrapped Labor’s plan to invest billions of dollars more in schools. Indeed, in his first Budget, Tony Abbott cut $30 billion from schools. And just last week, Tony Abbott’s secret plan to cut all federal funding for schools was exposed when a proposal he sent to state and territory governments was released to the media.

Budget cuts mean less money for a better curriculum, school resources and school facilities.

Mr Abbott’s cuts mean less money for a better curriculum, school resources, and school facilities. Most concerning, they mean less money for improved teacher quality. Our teachers do a wonderful job. But with more funding they could spend more time with each student, and do more professional development themselves. All the evidence indicates the single biggest ‘in-school’ influence on how well a child does, is the quality of their teacher.

But perhaps the most alarming part of Tony Abbott’s secret schools plan is his proposal to start charging fees at public schools.  Access to a great education is the right of every Australian child, no matter where they live or how much their parents earn.

Missed opportunities to learn are bad for individual children, but the cost to our economy is huge too. Research has found a small 5% improvement in school maths, science, and reading results could increase Australia’s economic growth by more than $3 trillion over eighty years.

The reason parents agonise about schooling decisions is because we know a decent education is the ticket to success and prosperity. That’s true for our nation, too. That’s why we should put the same effort and care into designing our school funding system.

The success and prosperity of our nation depends on it.

Do you feel pressure to be more involved at your child’s school?

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