Education: Put the whip away
By DEAN LAWSON
An Australian Education Union strategy to needle families into becoming allies in a fight for better conditions for public teachers and school environments is fraught with long-term danger.
The union is correct if it believes families of school children represent a huge store of ammunition to fire at the government. Families with school-aged children are allies-in-waiting to help push a need for greater staffing levels, a better working environment and more money for state education.
But if the union and its members think for a moment the way to go is to punish families – whom they have to some degree over a barrel – to force government into action, they should seriously think again.
A union ban on teachers providing ‘written comments on student end-of-term reports’ as part of their action is not only ridiculous but adds fuel to any discontent parents might, rightly or wrongly, feel about the people charged with the formal education of their children.
If you break it down to everyday life, this type of action has the potential to heavily influence how parents, who might have been working throughout a school year to overcome a learning issue with a child, perceive teacher credibility.
You need only to go into coffee shops frequented by mums to pick up a thread of how families are reacting. Instead of seeing the government as the education ogre, many are looking straight through any arguments to point a cynical finger at the teaching fraternity, offering comments such as ‘it’s just another chance for them to get out of work’.
This is an unhelpful diversion from the serious and profound issues of public school funding. Instead of hitting the mark, the union strategy risks making the lives of teachers, students and parents much harder instead of easier.
- Get the full story in the December 13, 2012 edition of The Weekly Advertiser.
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Posted on Dec 13 2012