By Mehroz Siraj
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has announced that his state will not commit to the Federal government’s public school reforms.
He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Lateline programme that he could not put $1.3billion of state money on the table, as demanded by the federal government.
He also rejected the federal government’s idea that it would put in $2 for every dollar put in by the state governments in reforming the education system, suggesting that this model would effectively put Queensland’s state schools under federal control.
“The states are responsible for running their schools,” he reminded.
“They have their own people, particularly principals, teachers, and school communities whom I want to empower to do this,” he added.
Newman however pledged $835million for improving Queensland’s rugged education system by introducing new programmes for training teachers and improving school curricula across the state.
While talking further about the negotiations that were undertaken at last week’s Commonwealth of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, he did say that he did not reject the federal government’s Gonski reforms out of hand.
He said that in principle he did support the report’s recommendation of having a standardized system for training teachers.
He supported the idea of having common school curricula nationally, he however would not commit to the reforms until the more finer details were revealed were revealed by the federal government.
Criticizing the Gillard government’s decision to extend the current funding agreement for only 18 months, he said that the need of the hour was for the administration to prepare systematic long standing national partnerships with the state authorities.
These partnerships would help in investing resources in the education sector in a more focused and channelized way, Newman said.
Newman’s views came in to the limelight just days after fellow premiers, Dennis Naphthine and Barry O’ Farrell said that they would not commit to Prime Minister Gillard’s educational reforms.
Although they agreed with the Gonski report’s recommendations in principle, they said that available information did not provide firm evidence as to how the federal government’s plans would help schools in their respective states.
The report that was presented to the government in late 2011, called for increasing the per student funding in the public school sector by investing an extra $5bn annually for three years.
This would help in balancing out differences in the educational outcomes that currently exist between state schools and private schools as a result of income and investment disparities, the report said.
The report also called for standardizing national curricula, citing the growing numbers of Australian families who were moving from one state to another.
The report also recommended that disabled students be provided with extra attention and funding so that they could also get a chance to make the most out of the education that they received.