Vic Govt Agrees to Support P-TECH Schools

The recent Senate Estimates hearings revealed that the Victorian Government has agreed to support the establishment of two P-TECH schools in Ballarat and Geelong. A joint announcement by the Federal and Victorian ministers of education is imminent according to Federal Education Department officials.

The P-TECH schools are a pet project of the Prime Minister following his visit to the flagship school in Brooklyn, New York, last year. It was another “captain’s call” by the Prime Minister that has not received adequate public scrutiny. Details of the program are shrouded in secrecy and are being developed and negotiated behind closed doors. The Estimates hearings shed little light on the arrangements. Continue reading “Vic Govt Agrees to Support P-TECH Schools”

P-TECH Schools are Unproven and Threaten Public Education

The following is a summary of an Education Policy Brief by Save Our Schools on P-TECH schools. The full Brief can be downloaded below.

Last year, the Federal Government announced $0.5 million funding for a new type of school in Australia incorporating high school education and two years of tertiary training. It is based on the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College) school in Brooklyn, New York, established by the giant IT multinational IBM and now being rolled out in several US cities. The model is personally endorsed by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Under the proposal, two existing schools in Ballarat and Geelong will be converted into P-TECH schools.

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P-TECH Schools Are Unproven and Threaten Public Education

Save Our Schools today called for public consultation and scrutiny of the P-TECH schools proposed for Ballarat and Geelong and sponsored by the giant IT multinational IBM. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that P-TECH schools are unproven and threaten public education.

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Massive Fraud and Waste in US Charter Schools

A report has detailed fraud and waste in charter schools in the United States totalling over $200 million in 2014 and 2015. The report says that this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg and that the federal, state and local governments stand to lose more than $1.4 billion because of regulatory failure.

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No Evidence that Independent Public Schools in England Raise Standards

A UK House of Commons report published last week says that there is no evidence that academies, England’s version of independent public schools, improve school results. The report by the bi-partisan education select committee said that although it was clear that academies led to greater competition, there was not yet proof that they raised standards for disadvantaged students or overall. Several issues raised by the report are very relevant to the expansion of independent public schools in Australia.

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Charter Schools’ Promise Unfulfilled

Charter schools are a central component of current efforts to change the face of public education in the United States. Charter schools are publicly financed, but free of many of the regulations that govern traditional public schools, such as those involving staffing, curriculum, and budget decisions. Independent public schools in Australia are similar to charter schools in some respects such as autonomy in staffing and budget decisions.

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“Markets Don’t Work in Education” Shockwave

A leading US education research economist caused shockwaves amongst the education research community last week by saying that markets don’t work in education. Dr. Margaret Raymond from Stanford University said that after decades of looking at charter schools in the US she has come to the conclusion that the “market mechanism just doesn’t work” in education.

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Education Chief Says Market-Based Policies are Ineffective

The head of Australia’s leading education research body, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), has questioned the effectiveness of teacher and school incentives as a school improvement strategy. ACER Chief Executive Geoff Masters said that there is little evidence that performance pay for teachers, financial incentives for schools, encouraging competition between schools and sanctions on schools that fail to improve are effective in delivering better student outcomes. Continue reading “Education Chief Says Market-Based Policies are Ineffective”

Claimed Advantage for Disadvantaged Students in Charter Schools is Much Ado About Nothing

In a column in The Australian last Monday, Jennifer Buckingham from the Centre for Independent Studies claimed that the expansion of Independent Public Schools will benefit students who have the most to gain. The basis for her claim is that independent public schools in the United States, called charter schools, achieve much higher results for low income and minority students than do traditional public schools. However, her evidence fails to stack up and she is guilty of grossly exaggerating the differences in results.

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Victorian Report on School Autonomy is Intellectually Bankrupt

The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission report on school autonomy published at the end of last month is a remarkable document. It finds that the research evidence on school autonomy is inconclusive about its effects on student performance, but then it rejects its own finding and recommends increasing school autonomy. In so doing, it opts for faith over evidence.

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