Gonski - it's deeply personal

Written by Karl-Erik Paasonen - EAL/D Teacher

What, ultimately, does Gonski funding mean to me, and why do I think we have to keep fighting for it? It’s visceral. It comes from deep in my guts.

What, ultimately, does Gonski funding mean to me, and why do I think we have to keep fighting for it? It’s visceral. It comes from deep in my guts.

A little over half a century ago, I came out squealing and mewling from my mother’s womb. I was naked. At times not so distant from that, people like Malcolm Turnbull, Simon Birmingham and Cory Bernardi emerged out of theirs too. Naked. No difference. Virtually identical brains and bodies, inheritances of the same long evolutionary process.

Yet now, I am being told that the flicker-of-an-eyelid differences of culture and wealth mean that if I were a child today (I have an 11 year old, at a local public school), then those flicker-of-an-eyelid differences are more important than all that evolutionary inheritance that we have in common.

I’m being told that my child, and my neighbour’s children – in fact the children of almost everyone I know, have ever known, and am ever likely to know – are inherently less worthy, less deserving of the care a society can give, than their children.

Gonski isn’t abstract – it’s personal. Deeply personal.

It sickens me, that these people have the gall to pretend that they are part of a society, a democracy, but can then decide that vast numbers of children are not as worthy as theirs.

That they say exactly the same thing, but to a greater degree, about Aboriginal children, and the children of people whose countries their bombs have helped turn into bloodbaths just compounds it for me.

In the recent federal election, I walked the streets of Eden-Monaro with NSW Teachers Federation teachers and our own AEU colleagues. I heard, both from NSW teachers and from parents, how the Gonski money was making a real difference to their schools and to their children. Programs had been set up to redress the effects of this flicker-of-an-eyelid difference in our culture’s distribution of wealth and life-chances. Are these programs now to be closed, while the wealth continues to flow to the schools of the rich?

These people who want to gut Gonski worship something called ‘the hidden hand’ of the free market. Well, to me, the hand is not all that hidden. It’s a naked fist. It’s a naked fist that destroys the hope of equality in our world and takes all the wealth for themselves.
These are people for whom public schooling is the educational equivalent of the dole: something they don’t want to have to pay for, and will cut where they can.

That’s why we have to keep fighting for Gonski. It’s a huge battle; but it’s a battle in a bigger war. That’s why I’ll be working with as many of you as possible in this ACT election campaign and afterwards, to take it to them. I’m sick of copping it.

 


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