Public Education – A problem for the ALP

One major problem the ALP has to face is the state of public education.  The new Federal Government may be able to shift some blame on to the Coalition for the current shameful conditions. However, they are in a bind, if they seek to redress these problems they will face substantial electoral backlash, the majority of swing voters have already left the public sector.  A further problem is that the geneses of these current conditions lies at the feet of the Rudd/Gillard ALP Governments. 

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If Australia wants to improve school outcomes, we need to define what ‘equity’ really means

Last week, the Productivity Commission released a major report on how to improve Australia’s school and university sectors. “Education is ripe for disruption”, deputy chair Alex Robson said.

The commission suggests longer schooldays, online classes taught by qualified teachers, and streaming students into ability groups to improve Australia’s educational performance.

But while these ideas may work well for some students, they won’t necessarily work for all.

If Australia is serious about improving its education system, we need to look at improving the whole system, for all students. This means we need a clear definition of what equity means for schools.

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Stop the Stage 3 Tax Cuts for the Rich

Save Our Schools today called on the Albanese Government to ditch the Stage 3 tax cuts for the rich. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said the tax cuts are indefensible when public education and other services face a funding crisis. “New economic studies show that the tax cuts will only serve to boost inequality without any economic benefit”.

“The tax cuts will cost $243 billion over the next ten years according to new estimates by the Parliamentary Budget Office and over $150 million will go to the top 20% of income earners. This massive windfall for the richest people in Australis will exacerbate inequality and those most in need will be denied key services.

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The Purpose of Education

I find it hard to think of a time when the management of the education of our children is in such disarray.  Recent announcements by the NSW Minister for Education and I assume endorsed by her senior bureaucrats have exposed what I believe to be a level of incompetence not previously experienced by the teaching profession.  The implementation of an increased level of the supervision of teachers’ and schools’ performance implies that they are not of ‘quality’ resulting in the unrealistic and inconsequential levels of accreditation, the purpose of which seems to reflect a complete distrust of the teaching profession.  The latest initiative is to provide lesson plans to support the teachers, perhaps the most ill-informed and insulting policy I have seen.

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New Plan to Solve Teacher Shortage Ignores Root Causes

Last Friday, Australia’s state and federal education ministers met with emotional teachers, who spoke of working on weekends and Mothers’ Day to cope with unsustainable workloads – and how they were thinking about leaving the profession.

This was part of their first meeting hosted by the federal minister Jason Clare. The top agenda item was the teacher shortage.

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Behind the News – The Decline of Public Education

The NSW Education Minister’s idea that the offer of an increase in pay would solve the complete systems failure of NSW’s Public School’s education department reveals her inability to grasp even the fundamental problems facing our schools; the inadequacies that exist have reached crisis point.  There are many obvious explanations of what is wrong primarily the insufficient funding which Trevor Cobbold from the Save Our Schools public schools advocacy group persistently identifies.  Another evident problem is the exhausting, non-teaching duties and administrative workload that has grown in recent years.  It would seem, if the political will existed these problems could be easily solved.  However, the contemporary education bureaucracy is underpinned by a faulty belief system that is the corner stone of all public services, the dependence on the principles of neoliberalism.

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A Letter to Parents on NSW Teachers’ Strike

The following is a letter to parents from the NSW Teachers’ Federation on the forthcoming strike by teachers.

Every day across NSW, children are missing out because of a lack of teachers. It’s an unacceptable situation affecting public and private schools. Children can’t put their education on hold and wait for this to be fixed. They have a right to be taught by a fully qualified teacher today and every day. This is why teachers and principals have made the difficult decision to go on strike on Wednesday, May 4.

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Critical Pedagogy in the Age of Neoliberalism

The experience of the 21st century in education is dominated by the culture and language of neoliberalism. Since the mainstreaming of neoliberal values in the 1980s, a dominance of hyper-individualism, meritocracy, competition and conservative, nationalist values has been normalised in the day-to-day practices and culture of the British education systems (Angus, 2015). This has created a culture in which social problems have been reimagined as individual problems; in which the ‘tyranny of merit’ (Sandel, 2020) paints those who do not ‘achieve’ – where achievement is measured in purely quantitative terms – as disposable and wholly to blame for their own failures.

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Calwell High School: Whose Failure?

Calwell High School has featured in a number of articles in the Canberra Times, the words of which were repeated by other news outlets. Suffice to say, their editorial is a disservice to all, teachers and students foremost, and in equal measure, families, parents, and carers, and finally all of us as a community. Most of all the shoddy reporting has dumped widespread social upheaval onto the back of one school.

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NSW Public Education Deals With Student Behaviour – Déjà vu All Over Again

The release of the new Student Behaviour Strategy again demonstrates the disconnect between public schools, where teaching takes place and the accepted authorities the education bureaucracy and academia.  This current ‘policy’ is one of successive attempts to deal with severely disruptive student behaviour in schools.  Historically all have failed and, despite the best intentions nothing in this proposal is new and there is no reason to believe the outcome of this attempt will be any different. 

This new strategy is contained in another glossy document complete with the usual motherhood statements asserting the Department’s commitment to providing support for these damaged children and promises of increased resources.  It even has the obligatory illustration of the complex interactions of the promises as shown below.  Hanging a collection of these diagrams from all previous policies would have as much impact on changing the plight of these students as constructing a ‘dream-catcher’ of these to hang over their beds.  In this latest model, shown below the ten strategies at the core of the policy are not in dispute, they are motherhood statements but any experienced teacher who deals with the problems dysfunctional behaviour creates finds these pretty pictures quite hurtful, they are denied the resources to implement them.  Of course, no one can deny the importance of the ten strategies, they are stating the obvious but these promises are never kept.

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