State and territory education ministers must stand up and fight for public schools in the wake of the Morrison government’s $4.6 billion private school spending splurge.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the nation’s 2.5 million public school students had been abandoned by the Morrison government, and now were counting on the states and territories to make sure that they do not sign inadequate public school funding deals.

“Yesterday we saw Prime Minister Scott Morrison announce a $4.6 billion special funding deal for private schools, to go with his government’s previous $1.9 billion funding cuts for public schools in 2018 and 2019,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This is the biggest special funding deal that private schools have ever seen, delivered by a Prime Minister who has abandoned public schools and public school students.”

“Prime Minister Morrison seems to be flush with money when it comes to private schools, but he is leaving public schools to fend for themselves,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Prime Minister has treated public school students abysmally by refusing to provide public schools with one single extra dollar in funding. State and Territory governments must not be complicit in this by accepting Mr Morrison’s appalling treatment of public schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said that funding negotiations are currently taking place between the Morrison government and the states and territories that will leave 87% of public schools below the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) benchmark by 2023. The Commonwealth caps its share of the SRS for public schools at 20 per cent of the total.

Ms Haythorpe said that these negotiations will not restore the $1.9 billion in public school funding cuts imposed by the Morrison government for 2018 and 2019.

“This $4.6 billion funding deal does not provide one single dollar for our children in our public schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“While private schools also get a $1.9 billion capital works special deal, there is not one single dollar in capital funding to build and maintain essential public school infrastructure.”

“Our children need every education minister in every state and territory to fight to ensure that every public school receives 100 per cent of the funding to which it is entitled,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“We need every education minister in every state and territory to reject school funding agreements which mean that 87 per cent of public schools do not meet the minimum SRS benchmark.”

“It’s a shocking situation to have a Prime Minister who is so blatantly in favour of the private sector when the vast majority of students are in public schools.”

“Unless the Morrison government offers a genuine needs-based deal that provides full funding of 100 per cent of the SRS for every public school in Australia, state and territory education ministers must not sign,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said the Morrison government’s $4.6 billion private school spending splurge would only serve to raise the temperature in the schools funding debate.

“There are two state elections looming in Victoria and New South Wales, as well as a federal election” Ms Haythorpe said. “Public school funding is going to be a critical issue in all of these, and must be resolved.”

“The teaching profession will escalate our campaign for fair funding of public schools, and we need all state and territory governments to join us in fighting for our children.”

An affiliate of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and Education International (EI)

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