BLOG: We must mind the Pyne Gap 

It's gone, gone, Gone-ski.

And if ever there was the epitome of the schoolyard bully, the Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, would be it. His smug replies to the government's backflip speak volumes. There will be no mixing with the lower classes in his tenure at the top.

Social media are full of accusations - Facebook memes decrying those who ticked the box marked Coalition last September. But as the election results show, Australians obviously felt the Coalition would live up to its promises, especially the ones it made on equitable, well-resourced education for all.

I heard Mr Pyne mention during an interview after the revealing meeting he had with state education ministers last week that the government had for the past 10 years tried throwing money at public education and it was obvious that it was not working.

But throwing it at independent education obviously has a different effect. Those rolling green lawns, Olympic-standard pools, tennis courts, high-tech classrooms are not responsible for the high Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks. Apparently it's the quality of the teachers in those Ivy league establishments that produce the doctors, lawyers and bankers of the future.

Mr Pyne insinuates that the teachers who tirelessly give their all to the students in public schools are somehow less, despite the fact that all teachers come into the job with similar qualifications from similar institutions.

Spending time in our public schools over the past 12 months has given me an insight into the battles our educators face on a daily basis. Classrooms that are becomingly increasingly crowded, resources that are forever dwindling, and morale that is flagging as teachers' skills and dedication are scrutinised.

Just last week GameBoy came home and told me he had been asked to pay for a ruler he accidentally broke in science. It may be only $5, but the fact that public education is now being run on a Bring Your Own basis means there will be an even greater divide between the haves and have-nots.

The kids lucky enough to have their own laptops will be able to master the ICT that is now a mandatory component of their education - that is, if the internet at their public school works.

Those students who have families that can afford to add to the meagre rations doled out to their local public schools will be able to compete on a more level playing field. But for those who can't, what does the future hold?

Mr Pyne's rhetoric suggests he is determined to bring in a rewards-based working scheme for teachers - those that get the high National Assessment Program results, the most Band Six results in the Higher School Certificate, will be better paid.

It will inevitably result in teachers teaching to the top, and - unintentionally - leaving behind those students who can't make the grade.

Independent schools have the luxury of deciding which students they accept. Their hallowed halls aren't darkened by kids who are struggling with a chaotic home life and for whom getting to school is an achievement in itself.

For too many students, their local public school is the one place they feel safe, and where they feel they matter.

But if teachers are forced to earn the pay through arbitrary results, it's these students who will suffer the most.

And then there's special education, where academic results are not the measure of success and where teachers work wonders with little recognition.

What will happen to those teachers who won't meet those performance criteria? Will they be relegated to the bottom pay scale, with no hope of ever climbing that career ladder? And which teachers will want to work in an area that pays the least?

Australia already has one mysterious Pine Gap in the desert, but it looks like our Education Minister is creating his own Pyne Gap - not so mysterious, but equally as dangerous.

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