Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson, has today slammed the Australian Education Union (AEU) for its “Teachers and School Staff for Palestine Week of Action” which encourages government schools to invite activists into the classroom.
Senator Henderson said the AEU was using staff and students as political pawns and putting the jobs of teachers at risk.
“This is a blatant attempt by the AEU to indoctrinate Victorian school children in breach of strict obligations on teachers to act without bias or prejudice in the classroom,” Senator Henderson said.
“I condemn the AEU for its irresponsible activism which puts the welfare of students at risk and jeopardises the jobs of teachers.”
A flyer purportedly distributed by the inner city and Maribyrnong regions of the AEU’s Victoria branch encourages school staff to show their solidarity with Palestine by wearing a keffiyah and hosting activists in schools.
The Victorian Institute of Teaching’s Code of Conduct requires teachers to maintain objectivity and prohibits them from displaying bias or preference in their interactions with students.
“The classroom is for education not indoctrination. Teachers hold a privileged position in the classroom and school community and any attempt to support this campaign would constitute a serious breach of trust,” Senator Henderson said.
“Any branch of the AEU which brings activism into schools is not fit to represent public school teachers and other educators.”
“I call on the Albanese Government to shut down this grossly irresponsible campaign which puts students’ wellbeing and safety at risk, particularly Jewish students.
As reported in today’s Australian, Jewish school principal, Rabbi James Kennard, says this campaign ‘crosses the line into anti-Semitism’.”
“Any school principal or teacher who supports this campaign which fuels division and antisemitism should face disciplinary action and perhaps even termination.
“Education Minister Jason Clare must take the tough action required to shut down this activism.”
The Victorian Department of Education has warned that ‘While staff have the right to freedom of expression, this is subject to lawful restrictions such as protecting public order and respecting the rights and reputation of other persons.’
It comes only days after Senator Henderson condemned Greens’ senator Mehreen Faruqi for posting on social media a photograph of her standing alongside a student protestor holding a deeply offensive antisemitic sign.
“While Senator Faruqi subsequently deleted this photo, she must unreservedly apologise for her role in spreading such a disgraceful antisemitic message,” Senator Henderson said.