NSW PUBLIC school teachers, already fighting to protect public service pay and jobs, now have another reason to take action against the new Liberal government. In early August NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced a consultation process about “empowering local schools” with the release of the Local Schools, Local Decisions document.
This follows Gillard’s federal push for school principal autonomy and fulfils another element in the rolling out the “New York model”. This agenda encompasses mass-testing as a basis for performance based pay, school based hire and fire and even the closure of so called “non-performing” schools. Translated, it is the government’s attempt to put the blame for inadequate resourcing onto schools and teachers themselves.
Piccoli’s department has trotted out the same failed ideology by suggesting that poor student outcomes can be blamed on the poor performance of teachers and this can only be addressed by giving principals the right to hire and fire.
NSW Teachers Federation President Bob Lipscombe said that, “While some local decision making such as purchasing from local suppliers is worth considering, we do not want to see the situation where principals are transformed into managers and accountants, at the expense of educational leadership.”
Despite promising at the election to retain the state-wide staffing system (which provides an incentive to teach in the most difficult remote schools by allowing a later transfer to a more favourable location) the Liberal state government proposes that, “Schools directly manage an increased percentage of the total education budget, including the budget for school based staff.” NSW teachers won a bitter campaign in 2009 to retain the state-wide staffing system.
In the shadow of an ongoing pilot of the scheme (in 57 schools across NSW), the document promotes the further corporatisation and marketisation of public education.
These developments give added importance to the staffing and salaries campaign commencing later this year. Teachers need to push for decisive action to ensure that a state-wide staffing system is not only retained but strengthened.
We need the biggest possible attendance of teachers at the 8 September rally to show the government that it is not only pay and jobs. Teachers values the conditions in which children learn and will take action to protect them.
John Morris – President, Canterbury-Bankstown NSWTF branch
Further details on staffing, pay and to get involved in teacher activism,
Activist Teachers NSW homepage,