Generic image of teacher teaching students inside school classroom.
Generic image of teacher teaching students inside school classroom.

Power balance with unions is wrong

Don't bash teachers. And don't bash their union.

Most educators work hard to deliver for students, and their success depends on more than commitment. Resources and training factor in, as do the demands of a clunky curriculum and external testing, including NAPLAN.

As for the Queensland Teachers Union, it is justified in pushing for improved conditions. As a representative body, that's its role.

Screw the unions, now is the time to reopen Qld schools

If the public thinks teachers get too many holidays, tough. That shouldn't deter the union from advocating for its members.

Where people should be directing their anger is at the State Government, which has consistently shown it is beholden to this union (and others).

To be clear, unions are only "powerful" if those who make policy allow them to be.

Education Minister Grace Grace has done a gold-star job of letting the QTU call the shots.

Remember back in April when Ms Grace refused to budge on reopening schools because union president Kevin Bates declared the state's 95,000 Year 11 and 12 students could return to class "when the time is right"?

Now she is trying to placate the 47,000-member union - furious over the 18-month deferral of promised pay rises for educators (never mind the pandemic) - with a proposal that gives teachers additional leave.

Ms Grace is offering two days off at the end of the year, topping up the existing four weeks' recreational and seven weeks' concessional leave.

She is also using NAPLAN as a bargaining chip, saying the Palaszczuk Government may replace it with a modern and more effective national assessment.

As the QTU well knows, this is not a new announcement.

A review of the maligned testing model has been on the table for at least a year, spearheaded by Ms Grace's Liberal counterpart in NSW.

Sarah Mitchell has rightly derided NAPLAN - an acknowledged bugbear for teachers - as outmoded.

And when the Education Council knocked back her June 2019 request for a national review, she got together with education ministers in Victoria and Queensland and, in September, announced a $1 million independent review.

So, long before COVID darkened our classrooms and derailed public service pay rises, NAPLAN was already on shaky ground.

And yet the Government continues to clutch at ways to appease the QTU.

While this is not surprising - the QTU is affiliated with the Queensland Council of Unions, of which Ms Grace was general secretary for seven years and which backs the current Labor government - it does mean that the balance of power is wrong.

Teachers, by and large, do their best under difficult circumstances.

As many parents who struggled with homeschooling during lockdown have realised, teachers should be appreciated, not abused.

In advocating for its members, the QTU is simply doing its job.

It's time the Government did theirs and started calling the shots, without bias.

 

Originally published as Power balance with unions is wrong


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