Questioning The Role of Philanthropy in Education

One of the lesser known recommendations of the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling was that the Australian Government should create a fund to provide national leadership in philanthropy in schooling and to support schools in need of assistance to develop philanthropic partnerships. It said that greater use should be made of philanthropy to support schools.

A survey by the Australian Council for Educational Research found that philanthropic organisations provided $23.6 million in donations to school education in Australia in 2013 out of a total of $391 million distributed by philanthropic organisations responding to the survey.

In contrast to Australia, philanthropic organisations are heavily involved in school education in the United States and distribute billions to schools. The Gates, Walton and Broad foundations have come to exercise vast influence over American education policy through their strategic investments in education. The grants are used to support charter performance pay, vouchers and other market-based policies in education.

The influence of these foundations has been heavily criticised by advocates of public education. As Diane Ravitch, author of the Death and Life of the Great American School System and Reign of Error, has said: “There is something fundamentally anti-democratic about relinquishing control of the public education policy agenda to private foundations run by society’s wealthiest people.”

The experience with these wealthy philanthropic foundations in the United States is a warning about increasing the role of philanthropy in public schools in Australia.

The following is an address by Joanne Barken to the Network for Public Education conference in Austin on March 1-2 about the role of big philanthropies in education policy. Continue reading “Questioning The Role of Philanthropy in Education”

Shorten Re-affirms Labor’s Commitment to the Full Gonski

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Following questions raised about its commitment to the Gonski funding for the two final years of the six year transition period, the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has clarified Labor’s position. At a doorstop interview in Perth yesterday, Shorten gave an unequivocal commitment to the full Gonski funding.

Continue reading “Shorten Re-affirms Labor’s Commitment to the Full Gonski”

Is This the End of Gonksi?

There appears to be a new unity ticket between Labor and the Coalition on the Gonski school funding. The Coalition has always refused to commit to the final two years of Labor’s six year Gonksi funding plan. Now, it appears that Labor is having second thoughts.

The Shadow Education Minister, Kate Ellis, has refused to commit Labor support for the increase in funding it planned for the two final years of the six year transition to the Gonski funding model. It puts a final question mark against the $7 billion increase in Federal funding promised by the Labor Government for 2017-18 and 2018-19. Continue reading “Is This the End of Gonksi?”

OECD Contradicts Pyne’s Claim on School Autonomy Success

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”

OECD Report Says High Participation in Private Tutoring in Korea is Pernicious

A major factor in the success of East Asian schools in international tests is the long hours students devote to homework and after school tutoring. A chapter in a new report from the OECD shows that Korea has amongst the highest participation in after-school tutoring in the world. It says that participation is much higher amongst students from affluent families and is exacerbating social inequality. Private tutoring is also narrowing education experience and harming the rounded development of students and their well-being. Continue reading “OECD Report Says High Participation in Private Tutoring in Korea is Pernicious”

Australia Fails to Achieve Universal Pre-school Target

Australia has dramatically failed to achieve its target of universal pre-school education by 2013. New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that only 78 per cent of 4 year-olds attended some form of pre-school education in 2013. However, attendance was up slightly from 75 per cent in 2012. Continue reading “Australia Fails to Achieve Universal Pre-school Target”

Another Study Shows that School Autonomy Does Not Increase Student Achievement

Yet, another study of school autonomy has cast doubt on its effectiveness in raising student achievement. It also suggests schools may use greater autonomy to target resources to particular students at the expense of others. Continue reading “Another Study Shows that School Autonomy Does Not Increase Student Achievement”

Gonksi Panel Member Slams Labor’s Ineptitude on Gonski Funding

Gonski panel member, Ken Boston, has slammed the Labor Party for failing on the politics of delivering the full Gonski school funding model. He said that Labor has failed to prosecute a public case for the six year funding plan, made major mistakes in delaying implementation of the Gonksi model for nearly two years and is now failing to put sufficient pressure on the Abbott Government to implement the full Gonski. Continue reading “Gonksi Panel Member Slams Labor’s Ineptitude on Gonski Funding”

Federal Officials Confirm the Coalition’s Sabotage of Gonski

The Senate Estimates hearing on education at the end of February shed more light on how the Coalition Government is sabotaging the Gonksi funding model. The hearing revealed that the Government will dishonour agreements made with some state and territory governments to provide funding increases over the next six years and it will not hold governments to their agreements to increase funding over the next four years; nor will it place conditions on the funding it has provided to the governments that refused to sign up to Gonski. The other sabotage is that state and territory governments will not be required to implement a needs-based funding model and perhaps nor will private school organisations. Continue reading “Federal Officials Confirm the Coalition’s Sabotage of Gonski”

A Cautionary Tale from New York on High Stakes Testing

Lectures by US Professor of Education, David Hursh, in Melbourne and Sydney last month described the rise of market-based education policies in New York State. He showed that over the last twenty years, control over education policy has shifted from the local level to the state and federal levels.

As a result, he said, unelected and unaccountable entrepreneurs and corporations dominate curricular and assessment decisions. Students and teachers are increasingly assessed by tests that are intended to portray them as failures. However, parents, students, educators and community members are fighting back to regain control over education. Continue reading “A Cautionary Tale from New York on High Stakes Testing”