Mark Zirnsak

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Public Education Day 2020

My daughter Chloe has autism and attends a Victorian state school that caters for children with autism. Class sizes are small, between 4 to 14 children, with one or two teachers and a teacher’s aid. The teaching and administrative staff at the school have been excellent. During the COVID-19 lockdown, we were provided with an individual learning plan for Chloe. Her teacher was accessible by e-mail and adjusted the plan to keep Chloe engaged and learning.

Free public education funded through a fair tax system is vital for a decent society. It is one of the key elements to putting a brake on the growing inequality in our community and across the globe. I have been to countries that currently struggle to raise the taxes needed for a decent public education system. I am incredibly grateful for the education Chloe has access to.

Free public education means that no matter which family a child is born into, they have the opportunity for quality education. Of course, much more is needed to overcome the structural injustices that mean some people get a head start in life, while others start at a disadvantage. However, free public education is one of the essential building blocks to address those structural injustices.

Mark Zirnsak, Senior Social Justice Advocate, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania