MASS protests will be held during the next school term over the state government’s proposed $1.7 billion cuts to education.
The offices of Coalition MPs will be targeted as the NSW Teachers’ Federation musters community outrage over the costs, which will impact on jobs and school budgets.
The federation announced yesterday it would organise unprecedented community protest action in Sydney and major regional centres such as Tamworth on a weekend during term four.
It said protests would be held at various locations, including outside the offices of state MPs, near TAFE campuses and other highly-visible public venues.
Federation president Maurie Mulheron said the action was part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure community outrage was harnessed in the interests of an ongoing campaign to reverse the government’s decision.
He said it was the biggest attack on public schools and TAFE colleges in decades.
The federation will also launch a TV, radio, print and online advertising blitz to promote the campaign.
The cuts, announced by the O’Farrell government last week, will see 1800 public sector jobs go in the education department and at TAFE, while independent schools will have funding frozen for the next four years.
The decision to take such action was made at a state executive meeting involving 15 classroom teachers and principals yesterday.
Mr Mulheron said it had decided on a large community protest instead of a strike because the issue extended beyond teachers’ working conditions and anger within parent and community groups was high.
However, he would not rule out any future industrial action.
“This is now not just a teacher issue, this is an issue that should concern every citizen of this state,” he said.
“The quality of provision of education in every school and TAFE college is now at risk.
“Not at risk for 12 months, but at risk well into the future.
“This is the most vicious attack and set of cuts that any government in this state has made against public education.”
Mr Mulheron demanded that Premier Barry O’Farrell reverse the cuts or admit that he was elected on a lie.
He said Mr O’Farrell had promised to preserve front-line services but was now cutting teaching and non-teaching positions, equity programs, support services for students with disabilities and other programs.
He added that the cuts also put Commonwealth funding proposed under the Gonski review at risk.
Mr Mulheron also predicted an enormous community backlash at the next state election and that many Coalition MPs would lose their seats on this issue alone.