Australia’s Unfair School Funding System Must Be Overhauled

The following is a summary of an Education Policy Brief published by Save Our Schools. The Brief can be downloaded below.

Over the past 15 years, total Commonwealth and state government funding for private schools has grown at more than twice the rate of funding for public schools, and in more recent years, funding for public schools has been cut while private school funding still increased.

Between 1998-99 and 2013-14, government funding per private school student, adjusted for inflation, increased by 39% compared with only 17% for public schools. More recently, between 2009-10 and 2013-14, real funding for public schools funding per student fell by 3% while private school funding increased by 10%.

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Another Study Shows That Money Matters in Education

A new review of research studies has found that money matters in education. It shows that there is strong evidence of a positive relationship between school funding and student achievement and that particular school resources that cost money have a positive influence on student results. As well, more equitable allocation of funds between schools increases equity in student outcomes. Continue reading “Another Study Shows That Money Matters in Education”

Labor’s Gonski Promise Puts the Heat on Turnbull

After much dithering, Labor has finally delivered on Gonksi, at least for the most part. Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis have promised that a future Labor Government will fund the last two years of Gonski to the tune of an extra $4.5 billion.

Labor’s commitment is a very welcome development. It is a stark contrast to the Turnbull Government’s plan to ditch Gonski funding after 2017 and cut school funding in real terms. It puts the heat on the Prime Minister to deliver on his rhetoric about a fair go and the need for more resources for disadvantaged students.

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Oxfam Says that Global Tax Avoidance is Starving Funding for Vital Public Services

A research report by Oxfam shows that global inequality has reached new extremes. The richest 1% now have more wealth than the rest of the world combined.

The report says that power and privilege is being used to skew the economic system to increase the gap between the richest and the rest. The global network of tax havens has enabled the rich to hide trillions of dollars in assets from governments. This is depriving governments of resources needed to fund vital public services such as education and health. Continue reading “Oxfam Says that Global Tax Avoidance is Starving Funding for Vital Public Services”

NAPLAN Online Test of Writing Could Widen the Achievement Gap

Last year, there was widespread criticism of the plan by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to take the NAPLAN persuasive writing test online. Two hand-picked Federal Government advisors said it would discriminate against disadvantaged students. It has also been widely criticised by teachers’ unions. Continue reading “NAPLAN Online Test of Writing Could Widen the Achievement Gap”

Louisiana School Voucher Scheme Reduces Student Achievement

In the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Department of Education took the opportunity to turn the state’s education system into a vast experiment in free market education. The large majority of public schools in New Orleans were turned into privately operated charter schools that are publicly funded and a voucher scheme was introduced which provided public funds for students to attend private schools.

The whole experiment has been a massive failure.

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Govt Has a Massive Potential Revenue Pool to Fund Gonski

The Federal Government claims that the Budget deficit precludes fully funding the last two years of the Gonski plan. Labor is dithering on Gonski because it fears being seen as spendthrift when there is a large deficit.

However, full implementation of Gonski could be easily financed. The Federal Government has a potential savings pool of at least $34 billion a year to fund the $7 billion originally planned for the last two years of Gonski.

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The De-Professionalization of Teaching

Competition and choice policies in education are leading to the de-professionalization of teaching. A policy brief published by the US National Education Policy Centre titled Reversing the Deprofessionalization of Teaching says that it is being driven by fast-track teacher preparation, teacher evaluation based on student test scores and the use of scripted, narrow curricula.

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Well-off Private Schools Are Over-Funded by $3 Billion a Year

In general, there is no case for governments to fund private schools to a level beyond what they are prepared to fund public schools. However, government funding enables some 1,400 private schools to have more resources than public schools. It costs the taxpayer about $3 billion a year that would be far better spent on supporting disadvantaged public and private schools.

There are two aspects of government over-funding of private schools. The first is that privately-sourced income from fees and donations of wealthy private schools exceeds the total income per student in public schools. Government funding for these schools extends their resource advantage.

The second is that there are many private schools whose income from private sources is less than total income per student in public schools, but whose government funding is more than that which would provide them with the same average total income per student as public schools. The extra government funding also gives these schools a resource advantage over public schools.

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Wealthy Private School Parents Evading Taxes

One of the arguments used by the wealthy to justify government subsidization of their fees at elite private schools is that they pay taxes and there should receive government funding for whatever school their child attends. Apart from being a spurious argument, it appears that many of the wealthy are not paying taxes anyway.

Last month, the Australian Taxation Office announced that it has contacted more than 100 Australian parents with children at 60 elite private schools who paid school fees of $100,000 a year from overseas bank accounts. The ATO obtained information from the schools and matched it against parents’ tax returns. It is part of the ATO’s crackdown on tax evasion by wealthy individuals with hidden income and assets offshore.

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