ACT Liberals Ignore Disadvantage to Defend Privilege

Tony Abbott recently claimed that private schools are the victims of an “injustice” because they get less public funding than government schools.

ACT Liberals have taken up this claim with a vengeance in their election promise to increase funding for private schools. They have revealed their true colours – their first priority is to support better-off families, not low income families.

They ignore the real injustice in ACT education – a massive achievement gap between rich and poor. Increased funding for private schools can only compound this gap.

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The Real Class War on Display

The real class war in education was on show this week. It was an object lesson in how the rich ruthlessly exploit their power to gain privileges at the expense of the poor and less well-off. Within a few days they extracted commitments to a funding increase for private schools which will likely amount to about $1.5 billion from the Federal Government and an unspecified increase from the Coalition. Continue reading “The Real Class War on Display”

Is Gillard Preparing to Dump Gonski?

It seems that the Prime Minister may not “give a Gonski”. When challenged at a community cabinet meeting in Brisbane this week to implement the recommendations of the Gonski report on school funding she put the onus on state governments. Her response raises the question as to whether the Federal Government is preparing to dump the report and sheet home blame to Coalition state governments.

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Huge Funding Bid by ACT Private Schools Should be Rejected

This article is a summary of an Education Policy Brief published by Save Our Schools. It can be downloaded below.

Private schools in Canberra are pressuring for a massive across-the-board 43% increase in funding by the ACT Government. They want Territory funding increased from about 17.5% to 25% of average government school costs.

The Catholic Education Commission, the ACT Association of Independent Schools and the Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools have all called for the increase to be applied to all private schools. Undoubtedly, this will be the focus of a private school campaign in the lead up to the ACT election this October.

The proposed increase would amount to about $19 million a year on 2010 funding figures, increasing from $44 million to $63 million. Catholic schools would receive an increase of $13.5 million and Independent schools $5.4 million.

This is an incredible claim which should be rejected on several grounds. It would compound the already privileged funding position of high socio-economic status (SES) private schools in the ACT. It is contrary to the new approach to school funding being developed following the Gonski review of school funding in Australia. It would reduce the funding available to address the major challenge facing ACT education – the large achievement gap between rich and poor students

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School Kids Bonus is Money for Anything But Education

The Government’s new school kids bonus grant to families to replace the tax rebate on education expenses is an education payment in name only. There is no requirement that it be spent on education-related expenses. It can be spent on anything. It could all be put into poker machines for all we know.

It will have no impact on student outcomes. The Government might just as well drop the money from a helicopter for all the impact it will have on education.

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High SES Catholic Schools are Over-Funded

A new research paper published by Save Our Schools shows that virtually all high SES Catholic combined and secondary schools in Australia are over-funded compared to what they are entitled to according to their socio-economic capacity. Their actual funding per student is higher than the funding rate that applies to their SES score. Other private schools on the same SES scores get much less funding.

The paper challenges claims by Catholic education authorities that they re-distribute funds from high income to disadvantaged Catholic schools. It shows that these claims are misleading and untrue in many cases when actual Federal funding figures on My School are analysed.

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Report Says Wealthy Catholic Schools are Over-Funded

A new research paper published by Save Our Schools (SOS) shows that virtually all high income Catholic combined and secondary schools in Australia are over-funded compared to what they are entitled to according to their socio-economic capacity. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that the report challenges claims by Catholic education authorities that they re-distribute funds from high income to disadvantaged Catholic schools.

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Gillard Should Go it Alone on Gonski

The Prime Minister’s pointed and repeated refusal to commit, even in principle or in part, to taking up the recommendation of the Gonski review to boost school funding leaves government schools very vulnerable to getting little out of the review. Yet, over-funded private schools will continue to be guaranteed their privileged funding, and many private schools may get even more as the Government goes into an election year. Continue reading “Gillard Should Go it Alone on Gonski”

Just How Independent was the Gonski Review?

A puzzling aspect of the Gonski review of school funding is its adherence to the Government’s stated policy that no school would lose a dollar of funding as a result of the review and the apparent absence of this instruction from the terms of reference of the inquiry. Continue reading “Just How Independent was the Gonski Review?”

Gillard Turns Her Back on the Disadvantaged

The highlight of the Gonski report is its well-founded and important recommendation that Australia needs to spend an additional $5 billion a year on schools, predominantly government schools, so that they can address the issue of disadvantage. When all the figures are finalised, more may be needed, but as the reports says:

Australia must aspire to have a schooling system that is among the best in the world for its quality and equity, and must prioritise support for its lowest performing students. Every child should have access to the best possible education, regardless of where they live, the income of their family or the school they attend. [p. xiv]

The lowlight was that in her response to this vision, the Prime Minister repeatedly and pointedly refused to commit to the additional funding. Instead, she proposed further reviews and community discussions. She did not even promise to provide the funding when the budget was in surplus, as Tony Abbott did when he committed to a dental health care scheme. She simply turned her back on the disadvantaged.

So much for the rhetoric about closing the gap and ensuring that wealth does not determine educational outcomes.

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