While the fate of Gonski hangs in the balance, the Greens are taking practical initiatives
On Saturday, 1 June, 2.30 in Pioneers Park, Norton St, Leichhardt we're holding a a public meeting to hear from voters, with local MP Jamie Parker, Greens Education spokesperson John Kaye and Hall Greenland, the Greens candidate for Grayndler.
"In talking to voters I’ve found a lot of support for the Gonski reforms to school funding. But that funding is going to take time before it begins to flow – if it flows at all," Hall said.
We need to invest in local schools NOW - both to make good public schools even better and to meet the pressure from the mini baby boom occurring in Grayndler.
In the case of Leichhardt campus of the Sydney Secondary College on Balmain Road, there is a way of doing this tomorrow – and at no extra cost to taxpayers.
Next door to the school – just to the north – are two heritage, former tramway buildings on a large expanse of land. The buildings are structurally sound, unused and are NSW government-owned.
This public college is crying out for more space and facilities: its enrolments have increased by 70% over the past 11 years – from 1200 students to 2100.
It’s an inspiring success story as the school is inclusive with selective, "mainstream" and students living with disabilities. It also has 90 indigenous students. It is just the kind of public school the Greens support and want to make more universal.
As Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon put it recently, “We want pubic education to be the new normal”.
The school is proposing to use the buildings for a performing arts centre for the music and drama students (it has eight music ensembles involving 214 students).
It would certainly be a boon to teachers and students – and the school supports the handover.
The buildings currently belong to the Police Department who have abandoned their plans to use them.
Handing these buildings over to the school should be a no-brainer. But the Police Minister is reluctant to release the buildings.
Jamie Parker, our local Greens MP for Balmain, has been raising the issue with the both the Police and Education ministers – to no avail, so far.
It’s a truism that campaigns like this only succeed with public pressure - which can be even more persuasive around election times.
This is why the Greens are organising an initial public meeting on Saturday, 1st June, at 2.30pm in Pioneers Park (in the north-east corner near the buildings and land in question).
We have also organised a petition to add your voice to the campaign and help us put pressure on the government to act.