Prime Minister Julia Gillard's crusade to reform school funding is in trouble, with the States accusing Canberra of trying to rush through details of the plan.
A phone hook-up of State education ministers and Federal counterpart Peter Garrett turned hostile yesterday and failed to agree on proposals for the premiers and Ms Gillard to consider next month.
The States are unhappy about the substance of the draft Bill the Federal Government wants to introduce as the framework of a new funding agreement and because they have had only days to give feedback. The Bill, which was leaked last week, contains an unusual clause that it does not create legally enforceable obligations on governments.
In a letter to Mr Garrett, obtained by _The West Australian _, WA Education Minister Peter Collier said the State did not support the draft Bill.
Chief among his criticisms is that it does not make clear that the Commonwealth is unwilling to seek control of schools or direct funding for public schools, despite a commitment from Ms Gillard to Premier Colin Barnett.
Mr Collier also wrote that because the finer details about five key reform areas - quality teaching, quality learning, empowered school leadership, transparency and accountability - were still being negotiated, they should not be included.
He said there had been "considerable disquiet" among States over what the Government proposed. "The mood of the meeting strongly reflected that further work is needed to refine these details before initial advice can be provided to COAG (the Council of Australian Governments)," he said.
The Federal Government played down talk of a rift, saying much of the information had already been in its response to the Gonski funding review.