LETTER TO THE EDITOR
I AM extremely disappointed that Heyfield was singled out in the Teach For Australia article.
If you accept the organisation's formula for working out disadvantage in education, then all the towns in our area from Rosedale through to Briagolong should have been included in the article, as they have also been placed in the 'most disadvantaged' category.
This is closely followed by Sale which falls in the 'disadvantaged' category.
The formula is debatable though.
If you access the Teach For Australia website, you would find that Genoa (population 400) falls into the 'most advantaged' category and Dargo is classified as 'advantaged'.
Teach For Australia is a controversial program that is funded by the federal government and through donations from the public.
It is not endorsed by education unions, and there is a lack of evidence to support its efficacy despite the program having run for quite some time.
Ironically, the ACT (the seat of federal parliament and the main source of funding for the program) has withdrawn from the program, citing the high cost of its implementation and lack of evidence in demonstrating student improvement as its reasons for withdrawal.
The program places non-teaching graduates into disadvantaged secondary schools after they have completed a 13-week intensive 'teacher' training course.
It costs about $100,000 per candidate, as opposed to costing about $23,000 for teaching graduates through our university system.
As well as being cost prohibitive, the program has not been able to deliver the promised results, and has a high dropout rate of Teach For Australia candidates, with many leaving after being in schools for only a short time.
If the Gippsland Times is going to publish an article, I would suggest that it needs to do its research more thoroughly before unfairly naming and shaming a town, as was done to the township of Heyfield.
Editor's note: The article referred to stated the Heyfield postcode area (not just Heyfield) had been rated as one of the "most disadvantaged" areas in the state in relation to educational outcomes. The second paragraph made it clear that this postcode also covers areas including Winnindoo, Glenmaggie, Licola, Seaton, Denison and Dawson. The third paragraph stated Sale ranked as "disadvantaged", noting it was curious that much of the Wellington Shire area surrounding Sale had been identified as "advantaged" while East Sale ranked as "most advantaged". The Gippsland Times welcomes Ms Miller's observations regarding Teach For Australia.