Fighting the Good Fight
I’m truly shocked at the current state of education funding in this country. While on the one hand the federal government has been advised to increase education funding in the Gonski report, on the other several state governments have announced savage cuts in funding for education.
It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.
In NSW, $1.7 billion has been slashed from the education budget for this year and future years. This press conference from the NSW Teachers Federation gives a good summary of how these cuts will affect our kids and the students to come after them.
I personally support the findings of the Gonski report and believe that education funding needs to be increased, especially for students with special needs. It is clear that cutting education funding is merely a false economy, only providing small savings now which will lead to greater expenditure later on.
The consequences of these cuts and the social cost they will inevitably result in are huge. It doesn’t make sense to me to go down this road, yet it is the path we are seemingly being forced to follow.
Yes, I have a personal stake in this. My husband is a teacher and is already under significant stress in his job – he doesn’t need more stress due to reduced funding, increased class sizes or an increased emphasis on teacher performance.
My son has special needs and is already being adversely affected by the changes to special needs funding as a result of the implementation of Every Student Every School. He has lost access to individual funding so is no longer eligible to aide time in the playground. And we still have no idea what assistance he may or may not be entitled to next year.
I have tried to be an advocate on this issue but I haven’t been very successful. I had some steam up in the beginning – I wrote some posts and was interviewed by the local paper and wrote to relevant politicians. But the strain of real life, of living day in, day out, forever advocating for our son, took its toll.
After a while I could no longer find any more words, I was exhausted by the hopelessness of the situation and disheartened by the lack of progress. I just couldn’t bring myself to push any more.
Thankfully, there have been others who have pushed through and who continue to be amazing advocates for students with special needs. I wanted to share their Facebook pages with you today, to acknowledge their efforts and to hopefully earn them some more support.
Parents Pack a Punch – an energetic page run by two northern NSW mothers, Carol and Theresa who are fighting for better funding for students with special needs in NSW public schools. They have created a page where “parents can voice their concerns, get support from others and perhaps get their feelings and opinions noticed by the broader community. We also welcome the constructive input from educators and concerned individuals who share a common belief and vision for the future with us.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder – A Letter to the PM of Australia – a page created to lobby government to increase their allocation of special needs education placements for kids with ASD. Adam and Kellie are parents to Ethan, and have recently been told that he will not have a place in a special education setting from next year as he is too high-functioning, despite all his specialists warning that he is not capable of coping in a mainstream classroom. They were recently featured on Lateline and are strong advocates for real choice in special needs education.
This is Not What I Signed Up For – My Journey Parenting Autistic Children– a page created by Michelle, a mother of 5 with 2 kids on the spectrum. In her words the page is “a place to share ideas and resources about parenting Autistic children, and to encourage each other through sharing stories.” Michelle is a great advocate and shares a lot of useful information for parents struggling to do the right things for their children.
Mum Talks Autism – this is an inspiring page run by an inspiring mum who talks about her journey parenting 3 children on the spectrum and how she has survived the loss of her other son. Her page has been set up to offer support, guidance and information and it truly is a wealth of knowledge and support. Her motto is never stop believing – something I’m also trying to live by, every day.
I’m going to do my best to better support these parents in fighting the good fight, by sharing their posts and writing more of my own. Because it is simply not good enough to stand back and watch while governments slash education budgets and further disadvantage our kids and jeopardise their futures.
It is just not good enough.
Linking up with Dorothy for Things I Know.