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.
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.
This is an edited version of the negative case made by Professor Alan Reid of the University of South Australia in a debate with Kevin Donnelly about independent public schools held at the Australian Curriculum Studies Association Symposium in Canberra on Friday August 1, 2014. The full presentation is available below.
I argue that the idea of public schools being ‘independent’ is philosophically at odds with what lies at the core of public education and that IPS is a policy in search of evidence. Continue reading “The Evidence Does Not “Stack-up” for Independent Public Schools”
Chile has one of the oldest large scale universal school voucher programs in the world. It was established under the Pinochet dictatorship during the 1980s as part of a policy to create a free market in education through decentralization and privatization of the education system. Continue reading “Chile’s Failed Free Market Education System Faces Overhaul”
According to a study of school autonomy in Austria, it has resulted in more competition between schools, created greater opportunities for student selection by favoured schools and led to more social differentiation between schools. This finding is similar to many previous studies of the impact of more school autonomy. Continue reading “School Autonomy in Austria Has Developed a Status Hierarchy of Schools”
A new study has found that competition between schools and greater school autonomy do not increase student achievement. It also found that competition tends to increase social inequalities in school results. The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Education Policy. Continue reading “Markets are Ineffective in Education and Create Social Inequalities”
The Federal Minister for Education, Peter Garrett, claims that greater school autonomy over budgeting and staffing will increase student results. The government has committed nearly $500 million over the next seven years to increase school autonomy in schools around Australia. About 1000 government and private schools will participate in the program over the next two years. Continue reading “The Evidence for School Autonomy is Far From Compelling”
Asked by Senator Penny Wright at a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment whether there was any evidence that Independent Public Schools (IPS) lifted student performance, Mr Tony Cook, Associate Secretary, Early Childhood Education and Care in the federal Department of Education answered that there was “a range of evidence”. Continue reading “Is there ‘evidence that independent public schools lift student performance’?”
John F. Kennedy once said that “the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie…but the myth” because belief in myths allows “the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought” [Kennedy 1962]. Both the Coalition Government and the Labor opposition are enjoying the comfort of the myth that school autonomy in budgeting and staffing leads to better student outcomes while ignoring the discomfort of mounting evidence against it. It is a textbook example of pure ideology in public policy.
Once again the Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, has been severely embarrassed by the OECD. This week in Federal Parliament, Pyne repeated his claim that more school autonomy delivers better student results only to be contradicted by another OECD report. Continue reading “OECD Contradicts Pyne’s Claim on School Autonomy Success”