Dr David Zyngier

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Public Education Day (2020)

As the founder of the Public Education Network (PEN) I wish to acknowledge the positive contributions that public school teachers make to the lives of children and young people, their families and communities need to be widely recognised. Any weakening of our public education system can only be a weakening of our democracy. Our public schools deserve to be adequately resourced and funded.

The pandemic shows the essential work that our teachers undertake every day. During this period many parents have publicly acknowledged a better understanding of the expertise required to ensure children's learning. A legacy of this period for many is a new-found appreciation for what teachers do to guide and support student learning, together with an increased capacity for families to support their children's education. For many parents and carers attempting home-based teacher-directed learning has provided a firsthand view just how rapidly education has changed and the incredible skills required by teachers.

The positive contributions that our public-schools make to the lives of children and young people, their families and especially in disadvantaged communities need to be recognised, especially by politicians and the media. It cannot be acceptable to blame our teachers for the perceived lowering of achievement outcomes caused the structural inequities in our schooling system due to so-called “school choice” policies of governments from both sides. It is beyond time to remove public funding from private schools and direct the $13.6B each year to our public education system.

Our teachers need to be trusted by policymakers, employers and the community as professionals, and as the decision-makers best equipped to make the best judgement about education in contrast to the view of some self-identified “expert” commentators who suggest that anyone who has been to school can be an expert on teaching and learning.

Dr David Zyngier, Associate Professor, School of Education, Sourthern Cross University