Today’s guest post by Maree Talidu:
On Friday the 18th of May, public school teachers across NSW attended ‘stop work’ meetings for two hours, from 9am to 11am. As a school teacher it has been hard to ignore the backlash fuelled by the media, who have whipped the public into a frenzied group who see teachers as nothing more than spoilt and inconsiderate.
My local newspaper ran an online poll about people’s reaction to the Industrial Action taken on Friday. I have read some of the most vitriolic posts, claiming “Teacher’s have never worked in the real world” to “Teachers are a bunch of overpaid whiners”. There was petty name calling and we were accused of being “money hungry, selfish creatures” that have the “easiest job in the world- what other profession gives you bludgers 12 weeks of holidays per year?”
This is not about money. This is not about lining our pockets with extra cash. This is not about being overworked and underpaid. Put simply, it is about the preservation of the current education system, which supports students and gives them specialized assistance, class sizes with good student/teacher ratios and experienced teachers.
Under the governments proposed scheme “Local schools, Local Decisions” the government would be giving Principals the right to manage the budget for their whole school. They would have the right to hire and fire staff as they saw fit, with little explanation. In order to stick to the budget, experienced, older teachers who are paid more could be bumped in favour of young teachers who earn far less. We have been told that Special Needs students would be put in mainstream classes with no funding for specialised care. Class sizes will increase which in turn makes it harder to give each student the individual help they may need. Subject choices would decrease, with subjects that aren’t KLA (Key Learning Areas) at risk of being taken out of the curriculum- this applies to subjects such art, drama, dance, hospitality, design and technology, textiles and agriculture.
Positions such as Teacher’s Aides, STLA’s (literacy and numeracy teachers) and even school counselors could be done away with. Right now, none of us are feeling particularly safe. The proposed ‘changes’ are amongst the most insidious and downright underhanded I have ever seen.
I don’t strike for more money. I love my job and feel I am well paid. I WILL, however, back the Teacher’s Federation on this issue 100%. I want my students to have the right to reasonable class sizes; to have access to more experienced teachers, to have assistance for special needs, to be given the best opportunity to help them achieve their long-term goals.
How can anyone think it is acceptable for kids with special needs, (including Autism, Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome and behavioural disorders) to be placed in mainstream classes with no assistance? What makes it alright to give teachers who have seniority and experience the flick because they simply cost too much to employ?
I have no doubt there will be more industrial action taken by the federation, and when it happens, understand that the teachers are fighting for the rights of your children- it’s that simple. The current smear campaign teachers are enduring is partly due to people being uninformed. Before you judge those of us in the teaching profession, please take the time to have a genuine look at what is at stake. After all, it is teachers who will help to shape the people your children become.
What do you think of the recent action? Do you think Principals should be given that amount of power? Do you think teachers are overworked and underpaid?
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