THE TEACHERS Federation care more about a political campaign than they do about school children, says Member for New England Barnaby Joyce.
The comment was in response to claims that Armidale schools will miss out on $2.9 million promised to them under the original Gonski model touted by Labor.
“Firstly, they don’t stand to lose anything, what they’re comparing is real delivery by the Coalition, a real increase that we’re actually making to education,” Mr Joyce said.
“What we have here I believe is a concerted campaign by the Teachers Federation, and I understand the Teachers Federation will never be happy – there’s only one release they ever really want to hear from me and that’s that I’ve retired or disappeared in a puff of blue smoke.
“I think it’s really sad on their part because the program we are rolling out is the program that’s supported by David Gonski.”
Under the Coalition’s model, an extra $18.6 billion will be set aside for schools over the next decade.
The issue for Armidale teachers is that the money they were promised under Labor will not be delivered in the next two years, meaning hundreds of students will be in high school before they see the effects of the funding.
A number of schools have also hired counsellors with the expected funding increase and there are now concerns as to how the new roles will be funded.
Armidale Teachers Association president Michael Sciffer said the attack on the integrity and commitment of Armidale public school teachers is deeply offensive.
“To suggest we are only interested in a political campaign is outrageous and shows contempt for our work,” Mr Sciffer said.
“We would suggest Barnaby stops playing politics with the futures of our students.”
Mr Sciffer said the Coalition’s school-funding policy is spread out six years beyond the budget forward estimates, leaving the majority of money on offer unfunded.
“If Barnaby argues that a six year deal signed between the Prime Minister and the NSW Premier cannot be trusted, then neither can a 10 year promise from the Coalition,” he said.
“All the members of Armidale Teachers Association want is for all of the students in our schools to have access to the learning opportunities they need to participate in modern society.
“We expect our local member to share that commitment.”