Minister for Education Disowns Budget Figures

At the Budget Estimates hearings last week on education, the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, effectively disowned the Chief Minister’s budget figures. The Minister resorted to producing ‘rubbery’ figures not reported in the Budget Papers in order to give the appearance of a real increase in government school funding for 2008-09.

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False Claims by Minister on ACT Budget

The ACT Government has claimed that it is increasing per capita funding for government schools in 2008–09 by 8% in real terms (that is, adjusted for inflation) and total real funding by 6%, contrary to the figures provided in its own budget papers.

The claims are made in a paper selectively circulated by the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, which purports to refute the analysis of the schools Budget published by Save Our Schools. Evidently, the Government has been stung by criticism of the Schools Budget by SOS.

The Minister’s claims are false. At best, there is no increase in real funding available for government schools in 2008-09. In fact, real funding is likely to decline. The mistakes in the paper reflect either deliberate misinformation or extraordinary ignorance about the Budget Papers.

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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”

Razor Gang Should Review Over-Funding of Private Schools

Save Our Schools, a public education advocacy group, has called on the Rudd Government to include private school over-funding in its review of Federal Government expenditure.

SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that over-funding for wealthy private schools should not be quarantined from the razor gang. Continue reading “Razor Gang Should Review Over-Funding of Private Schools”

Schools sacrificed because Government has misled the public

Today Cook and Village Creek Primary Schools closed their doors for the last time. Kambah High School was closed to make way for a P-10 ‘super school’ to be built on the site.

Parents and children at the three schools are having their lives disrupted and face higher financial costs all because the ACT Government misled the public.

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Barr loses track of his students in Towards 2020 upheaval

Mr Andrew Barr MLA, the Minister for Education and Training, has refused to provide a report on the geographic distribution of ACT students amongst government schools, leading to the conclusion that his Department does not routinely maintain its own records of student information.

Without such basic information about his students, how does the Minister propose to assess the gains he claims were to be made by Towards 2020, including closing a large number of schools?

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Economists Say Budget Surplus is Unjustified

Several well-known economists have criticised the large Budget surplus recorded by the ACT Government. They have accused the Government of poor economic management and they all say that the Government should be spending some of the surplus instead of sitting on it.

ANZ Chief Economist, Saul Eslake, was not impressed with the ACT Government’s financial management. He said that the ACT surplus stood out from that recorded by other states. “It’s a big miss, it’s hard to understand,” he told the Canberra Times (17 August).

Mr. Eslake said that the surplus raised questions as to whether school closures had to be so severe.

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School Flagpole Farce

Remember Brendan Nelson’s edict that every school in Australia should have functioning flagpole and fly the Australian flag? It was part of the Government’s plan to promote Australian values and patriotism.

It also had a Government self-promotion component. As a condition of receiving Federal funding for flagpoles, schools were required to invite a coalition MP to a flag-unveiling ceremony, publish a picture of the MP in the school newsletter, and erect a plaque acknowledging that it was a gift from the Government.

Well, apparently Government MPs haven’t been turning up to the ceremonies and this has meant that many schools have been unable to meet the conditions for Federal funding. It seems that some Government members are not as committed to public patriotism as their leaders would wish. Continue reading “School Flagpole Farce”