An Australian Education Union (AEU) commissioned report by Dr Jim McMorrow has revealed that the federal Labor government continues to fund private schools at the expense of public schools, just as the previous Coalition government did.
When the current funding agreement ends in 2012-13, the government will have given $12 billion more to private schools than to public schools, said the report. Private schools will receive $47 billion for building works, new equipment and to run their schools, as opposed to the $35 billion granted to public.
ABC Online reported on January 18 that AEU national president Angelo Gavrielatos said: "Public schools that educate two-thirds of Australian pupils will only receive 36 per cent share of Commonwealth funding."
The McMorrow report also revealed public schools and trades training facilities were being ripped off by the federal funding regime in regard to money for computers: an extra $500 million would be required to fulfill the needs of public education computing needs.
The findings were released on January 18, the first day of the AEU's annual national conference.
Gavrielatos said: "The Federal government has retained the Liberal's funding system which the report shows is continuing to deliver levels of funding to private schools that cannot be justified on educational or equity grounds.
"This system is so flawed that private schools are given huge increases every year, regardless of their wealth or income, while public schools are being denied the chance to expand the educational opportunities of students."
Public education is under attack on other fronts too.
In late January, school data will be published on the My School website, which will almost certainly be used by the media to publish league tables.
In November 2009, the AEU federal executive resolved to adopt a policy of "non-cooperation" in the implementation of National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests in 2010 if the data was used by the media to produce and publish league tables.
Delegates at the AEU's January conference voted to endorse this non-cooperation. The AEU federal executive will now meet on April 12 to assess whether the government has taken adequate steps to prevent the publication of league tables.
Members around the country will be directed to not cooperate with the administration of the tests if the AEU is dissatisfied.
Teachers will look for support from the wider community when this action is taken.
[Pat Donohoe is a councillor of the NSW Teachers Federation, secretary of Canterbury-Bankstown Teachers Association and a Socialist Alliance activist.]