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6 min read

Introductory Letter to the Education Green Paper

To download a copy of the Green Paper please click here.

Our discussion paper (we call it the TPAA Green Paper) sets out the core philosophical problems with our education system. 

This has been prepared by a panel of voluntary working teachers under the leadership of our national executive, as a first step to set the parameters of the debate about the reform of our public education system. We need to contend head on with the underpinning party political issues to effectively improve conditions of teaching and the outcomes for students. 

Yes, we want your feedback and your help. 

If you simply wanted to make money you wouldn’t be teaching. It is, or used to be, one of the great “callings” of life. We intend to not only “reclaim” that respected role but to also significantly increase the remuneration teachers receive. For perspective, no one needs an utterly ridiculous ratio of one bureaucrat for every two teachers (one to ten might be closer to the mark if we had locally autonomous schools). So there could be between $30-40,000 per teacher, per year, available to pay you more. But the system has to change, and we want you to lead the change. Here is the good news - we believe that if just 10% of teachers get behind this we can pull it off. 

The current system of a centralised, bureaucratically run education system, has been supported and nurtured by both the ALP and the LNP. The only difference between them is that the registered teacher trade unions and the ALP, have managed to monetise the system to their own advantage. About half of the registered teacher union fees is available to go directly or indirectly in support of the ALP. We absolutely support their right to do that with their members money. Teachers voluntarily join these unions knowing what happens to their fees, but by knowing this we also understand why the ALP want no change to this system. By contrast, the LNP gets neither support nor money; but they too inexplicably want to increase the number of education bureaucrats, get them to inefficiently spend more on school infrastructure, and then work with and support the QTU who financially support their political opponents. Listen here to the Qld shadow education minister on ABC radio – You be the judge. Is LNP education policy in Queensland “Labor Lite” or it is “Labor Heavy?”

We support no political party. Is any party serious about actually ensuring our children are educated? More to the point, why aren’t the LNP at least supporting TPAA teachers who want to reform the system to benefit both teachers and students instead of promoting the QTU who are the architects of the current system? 

Politicians, registered trade unions and bureaucrats, are not the way forward. They have caused the existing problems. However, we believe a core of about 10% of professional teachers through the agency of the TPAA can drive the changes necessary by bringing parents on board to the reform process. 

We know that parents are very unhappy with the system. Their interests are intrinsically at odds with those of the registered teacher unions and the centralised bureaucracy they profit from. 

Effective teaching does not need bureaucratic overview - teachers are trained professionals. The vast majority of whom don’t want to teach what the bureaucrats want taught, in the way the bureaucrats decree it be taught, in the unworkable disciplinary environment mandated by the bureaucrats. 

We don’t need 90% of the current public education bureaucracy if we allow our public schools to become locally autonomous as they once were when education results were better and teaching was meaningful and fun. For comparison purposes, the bureaucratic overload money saved if it was all applied to teachers salaries could add between $30-40,000 to every teacher’s salary. 

Going “locally autonomous” is a lot easier and simpler than you think. For instance, the school funding could come through a ‘fund the user’ system like Medicare. Almost no bureaucrats needed. This would give parents the power to move their children to a school that teaches what's best for their children, not according to the ever-changing bureaucratic brainwaves. 

So parents - not bureaucrats - will decide which schools get the money. This is not radical change. Over a third of all parents in Queensland have already removed their children from the government school system. Add in those at the government Independent Public Schools and the government Academy Schools - which have more management authority than regular state schools - and nearly half of all parents have already voted with their children's feet. It is happening now. We just need to continue the process. Parents - not bureaucrats - should also decide the curriculum and the school policies in the same way that they determine what goods line the shelves of Coles and Woolworths. It’s called buyers choice. In practice, if parents have the power to send their children to schools which teach what the parents want taught, the schools will adjust what is being taught and the student disciplinary frameworks to match the needs of the parents. They will lose funding if they don’t. 

By combining the needs of 90% of parents with just 10% of teachers we will win this education debate. Yes we can do it together. Bring your sensible colleagues on board with us. Looking forward to your feedback and support.

Scott Stanford 

National President | TPAA