At this time last year, in the staff room of the school where I was principal and in staffroom conversations across sectors and across the country, Gonski funding was on the horizon and the optimism was palpable. We were excited the education debate had been so deep. The national partnerships had made a difference. Student outcomes were improving. The focus was on every student in every school achieving their potential and we hoped this great work would continue. During the election campaign we were reassured by the member for Sturt when he said there was a unity ticket for school funding. This morning the picture is different, especially for Victorian schools. Today, I feel for every school principal and every school council president. I suspect the conversations are now very different: what does it mean for stage II of the building program; what will the future hold for the school budget; are we going to be able to keep the literacy specialist; will there be funding for students with a learning disability; will we need to axe programs; can the parents contribute more; how many fundraisers can we have?
The Gonski funding review was undertaken in a deep and measured way. It was sector-blind and student-focused. It showed a way forward. Last week's Victorian budget was silent on Gonski and this week's federal budget just rips money away. It is all bad news and, worse still, there is no certainty. This is a budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. For Victorian schools this is a budget of broken dreams.