Teachers in Victoria have been dealt another blow, with greater powers being handed to the Victorian Institute of Teaching as part of a review of the VIT launched mid-2007.
On August 22, the state government announced that minor offences, and allegations by teachers of minor offences, will now be dealt with by the VIT. At present, these issues are dealt with at the school level and the VIT deals only with serious offences, such as sexual misconduct.
Secondary school teacher and Teachers' Alliance member Mary Merkenich told Green Left Weekly: "Teachers want the VIT to start promoting teachers and education, not attack us, and waste our time and money. These matters should continue to be dealt with quickly and effectively at the school level."
In a newsletter to members on August 27, the Australian Education Union's (AEU) Victorian president, Mary Bluett, said the union's position is that if VIT "remains a regulatory body with increased powers, doing the Government's bidding, then it should be fully funded by the government — not by the profession".
The institute has come under fire since it was established in 2002, with many teachers seeing little benefit from it, even though they are forced to pay a VIT registration fee of more than $60 per year.
Merkenich said: "The government never wanted the VIT to be just a teacher registration body, and certainly not a professional body that advocates on behalf of teachers. It sees the VIT as an arm of government with which to control and punish teachers. It is time that the AEU leadership recognised this, withdrew all its support for the VIT and began a campaign against it."
[The Teachers' Alliance is a rank-and-file group in the AEU. For further information, visit http://www.teachers-alliance.org.]