Budget Deceit Covers Up Real Cuts in Govt. School Funding

Save Our Schools today accused the Stanhope Government of cutting funding to government schools in real terms in its latest Budget.

SOS spokesperson, Trevor Cobbold, said that, after adjusting for rising costs, funding for government schools will fall in 2008-09. Continue reading “Budget Deceit Covers Up Real Cuts in Govt. School Funding”

Barr’s divide and conquer strategy

Minister for Education Andrew Barr has this week announced that a Canberra Liberals’ plan to reopen empty schools “will take money away from all school renovations and the building of new schools such as the Harrison High School, Gungahlin College, West Belconnen High School and the new Kambah High School”.

Thinly disguised as an attack on the budgeting skills of the Canberra Liberals, the real motives appear to be a more sinister attempt to repeat the divisive tactics he succesfully used in the 2006 shcool closure campaign.

The message from his statements are that, in Belconnen for example, if Cook and Flynn were to re-open then the future of West Belconnen High School, school upgrades, teacher’s wages and a host of other schools funding programs in the district would all be threatened.

There is no other reasonable explanation for an attempt by an education minister to try to inject fear of schools re-opening into school communities fortunate enough to survive Towards 2020.

It gets worse, though. To keep with the Belconnen example, the basic facts are wrong – as West Belconnen High School is actually a P-10 school. The suggestion is, then, that re-opening two primary schools (Cook and Flynn) could affect the viability of a high school. In fact, the alleged savings from closed schools – which have never been accepted as fact by SOS – have been spent several times over if Mr Barr’s press releases are to be believed. It is a logical etension that this press release has spent the same savings again.

In addition, both West Belconnen and Harrison were announced well before the 2006 closures. There is no way that closing schools, or re-opening them, should affect this capital expenditure, unless the government had relied on a predetermined decision to close schools and sell off the land to provide the funds.

Closing Cook and Flynn primary Schools, for example, are proposed to be saving about half a million a year each, and the actual savings are probably lower. How this could fund the multi-million capital works investment Mr Barr referred to, as well as the long list of ongoing programs in Belconnen – in line with the claimed regional basis for educational provision – can be understood only with a massive leap of faith.

The ACT Government is facing a massive budget surplus, again, and the clear message from this latest statement reveals the government’s priorities. If Mr Barr was truly concerned about the Liberal’s capacity to budget, he could have asked whether re-opening schools combined with cutting taxes might affect their capacity to spend on million dollar artworks, statues, single-lane roads or other progams. Instead, he has chosen to reveal his continued disdain for school communities, trying to rekindle the division he so successfully used to his own ends back in 2006.

The only question is, who will fall for it this time around?

Sarah James

False Claims by Minister on ACER Report

The Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, claimed last week that the report on student performance commissioned from the Australian Educational Research Council (ACER) shows that “our lowest socio-economic students performed better than their counterparts anywhere else in Australia” [ABC News, 26 March 2008]. He also made a similar claim in a media release on the report.

This claim is false. The ACER report clearly shows that 15 year old students from the lowest socio-economic status (SES) levels do no better than those in at least several other states.

Continue reading “False Claims by Minister on ACER Report”

A High Quality, Low Equity and Socially Segregated School System

Trevor Cobbold, spokesman for Save Our Schools, recently delivered an address to a forum on the future of public education in the ACT sponsored the ACT Public Education Alliance. The address makes four key points:

  • The ACT schools system has very high quality outcomes, with little difference between the government and private sectors, especially when the different social composition of the sectors is taken into account.
  • School outcomes in the ACT are not improving and, indeed, have declined in some areas over the period of the Stanhope Government.
  • There is extensive individual and social inequity in ACT school outcomes with a large achievement gap between students from low and high income families.
  • There is increasing social segregation in the ACT school system that is reflected in the ongoing drift of enrolments to the private system.

The paper also canvasses some broad policy proposals to address key weaknesses in the ACT school system.

School Outcomes in the ACT - 2008

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Report Shows Stanhope Govt. Fails on Education

Save Our Schools said today that the report on student performance in the ACT by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is a devastating indictment of the performance of the Stanhope Government in education.

SOS spokesperson Trevor Cobbold, said that the report shows that there are large inequities in education outcomes in the ACT and declining student achievement in key areas. Continue reading “Report Shows Stanhope Govt. Fails on Education”

Barr’s spin on PC 2008 Report into Government Services

The latest Productivity Commission report, the 2008 Report on Government Services, has been used by Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and Minister for Education Andrew Barr to justify their scorched earth approach to education reform. It’s all in Stanhope’s and Barr’s press releases.

Continue reading “Barr’s spin on PC 2008 Report into Government Services”

Call to Extend Consultation on Schools Standards Authority

Save Our Schools today called on the Minister for Education to extend the consultation period on the proposed ACT Schools Standards Authority.

SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that five weeks is too short for effective community discussion. Continue reading “Call to Extend Consultation on Schools Standards Authority”

Education policy fails kids

ACT Greens MLA Deb Foskey has said the ACT Government’s education policy is failing too many Canberra students.

“I congratulate ACT teachers for their efforts towards achieving
excellent achievements for many Canberra students” Dr Foskey said today.

“However, the Greens are concerned about the alarming and growing gap between the achievements of students from high and low income families, as the Productivity Commission’s latest report has made clear.”

Continue reading “Education policy fails kids”

Proposed ACT Schools Standards Authority

The ACT Minister for Education has released a discussion paper on the establishment of an ACT Schools Standards Authority. The proposal is to expand the function of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies to be responsible for establishing and monitoring educational standards from pre-school to Year 12. This could include teacher registration, curriculum frameworks, student achievement standards, registration of private schools and home education. The Authority could also have overarching responsibilities for monitoring the general standards of schooling in the ACT.

Continue reading “Proposed ACT Schools Standards Authority”