A new study published in the latest issue of the Australian Economic Review has found that students in public primary schools achieve better results than Catholic schools and similar results to Independent schools. These findings confirm those of other recent studies in Australia and overseas that student performance in public schools is as good as, or better than, those in private schools. Continue reading “Public Primary Schools do as Well as Independent Schools and Better than Catholic Schools”
In its report on the National Education Evidence Base, the Productivity Commission claims that it is “lifting the bonnet on Australia’s schools”. Unfortunately, it failed to lift the bonnet on its own funding figures and see that the funding engine is badly misfiring.
The Commission has greatly exaggerated the actual increase in funding and it has missed the key point that past funding increases have not been directed at reducing under-performance. Past funding increases have favoured more advantaged schools over disadvantaged schools. As a result, school performance has largely stagnated over the past 10 years.
The Age newspaper is on the money, with its recent reporting on the financial plight facing an increasing number of Victorian government schools. With banner headlines such as “Schools battling to balance books” (11/06), “Broke schools forced to hire out teachers” (17/06), and most recently, “Schools cutting classes, breaking rules for money” (21/6), The Age is confirming what everyone in our government system knows – our school funding model is bankrupt! Disturbingly, that’s only the half of it.
A key member of the Gonski School Funding Review, Ken Boston, has savaged the political failure to implement the Gonski plan as originally recommended. In a speech last week to the NSW branch of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders commemorating the eminent educator, Dr. Paul Brock, Boston said that Gonksi has been “torn apart at the seams”.
While welcoming the increase in funding that has flowed from the review, Boston listed several fundamental weaknesses of the funding system implemented post-Gonski. Most importantly, the system that has emerged from the political process is not sector-blind, needs-based funding as recommended by the review panel, but continues to discriminate between public and private schools.
A ground breaking decision by the European Commission has highlighted massive tax evasion by large multinational firms that depletes government revenue to invest in essential services such as health and education. The loss falls most heavily on disadvantaged families who get reduced access to quality health services and education opportunities for their children.
The Federal Government claims that funding the $7 billion for the last two years of the Gonski school funding plan is not sustainable given the state of the federal budget. However, tax evasion by large multinational companies is a major drain on government revenue and it needs to be stopped to provide decent health and education for disadvantaged families and children.
The OECD has issued a damning verdict on education policies that promote competition between schools. Its latest PISA in Focus brief
says bluntly that the PISA international test data shows that more competition has failed to improve student results and has increased social segregation between schools. Continue reading “OECD Says That Competition in Education Has Failed”
Independent public (IP) schools in Western Australia have failed to improve student results according to a new report by a bi-partisan WA parliamentary committee. It also found that the introduction of IP schools has increased inequalities and created a ‘two-tiered’ education system.
The findings are a major blow to Coalition governments around the country which have made increasing school autonomy a central policy plank. Several recent overseas studies have also found little impact from increasing school autonomy over budgets and staffing.
There was much wringing of hands at the stagnation in Australia’s literacy and numeracy results revealed by the latest NAPLAN data. A critical factor behind the stagnation is the continuing failure of governments to spend money where it is most needed and will do most good. Since 2009, funding increases have been misdirected to the school sectors least in need while funding has been cut to public schools which serve the overwhelming proportion of disadvantaged students.
The new NAPLAN results for the ACT are a condemnation of Government inaction on school education. They show that the ACT school system continues to underperform despite its advantaged population. The continuing poor results give cause for a serious review of ACT school performance – public and private.
At the end of last month, the Prime Minister floated the idea that the Federal Government withdraw from funding public education as part of a proposal to allow the states to levy income taxes. The idea had a short life because at a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on the following day, the states rejected levying their own income taxes. A few days later, the Prime Minister said that he is “totally committed” to funding public schools while the Minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, said that the “Turnbull Government is not abandoning schools or public education and has never proposed doing so”.
These statements are highly misleading. COAG has decided to consider an alternative proposal that will have the same effect of ending targeted federal government funding of public education. The Prime Minister and his Education Minister are flagrantly misleading the public in the lead up to the election. It is a sleight of hand that ranks with Tony Abbott’s and Christopher Pyne’s 2013 pre-election big lie that the Coalition was on a “unity ticket” with Labor on school funding. Continue reading “Ending Federal Funding of Public Education is Still on the Agenda”