The Private School Funding Model is Deeply Flawed: A New Approach is Needed

The following is a summary of a new SOS Education Policy Brief. The full Brief can be downloaded below. This article and the Brief were revised on 2 October 2020.

Six months ago, the Morrison Government changed the method used to determine Commonwealth funding of private schools. It adopted a direct measure of the income of families called Adjusted Taxable Income (ATI) to assess their capacity to contribute to school income and thereby determine the level of Commonwealth funding for each private school. It will provide a net funding increase of $3.5 billion to private schools over the next ten years compared to the previous method of funding.

ATI is a deeply flawed measure of the financial need of schools. It will result in massive over-funding of private schools because it badly under-estimates the capacity to contribute of families and ignores other sources of income of private schools as well as their assets. As a result, the financial need of schools is over-estimated and consequently they receive more government funding than warranted.

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Shocking New Expose of Catholic Church’s Rorting of Taxpayer Funding

Documents leaked to the ABC expose shocking rorting of taxpayer funding by the NSW Catholic school system with the approval of Catholic bishops. It is the latest in a long line of exposes about misuse of government funding by Catholic systems and which successive Coalition and Labor governments have meekly acquiesced to.

The new ABC analysis shows that NSW Catholic school authorities will have diverted more than $300 million in public funding from the system’s poorer to richer primary schools by 2023 to keep fees low in wealthy suburbs to maintain market share. The leaked documents show that schools in some of the wealthiest areas collect roughly one-third to half the fees parents at those schools are able to afford while fees in much poorer areas are set at two or three times above what those parents can afford.

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New Review of Evidence That Increased Education Spending Leads to Improved Outcomes

A new paper published by the US Century Foundation reviews studies of two school finance reforms in the US that proved effective at improving student outcomes, especially in low-income and previously lower-spending schools. The two reforms reviewed are new school funding formulae introduced in Massachusetts in 1993 and in California in 2013. Both reforms were based on the principle that school districts serving higher need children require not the same, but more resources per student.

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Catholic School Systems Required to be More Transparent About How They Use Taxpayer Funds

Catholic school systems have been diverting taxpayer funding for schools in poor areas to schools in wealthy inner suburbs for years. Many official and other reports have documented this unethical and unchristian practice. It may at last be about to change.

Catholic and other private schools systems will placed under greater public scrutiny as a result of a new report by the National School Resourcing Board (NSRB). The Commonwealth Government has accepted its recommendations that private school systems disclose more information on how they distribute government funding to their schools.

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Public Schools Face a Funding Crisis; Private Schools Are in Clover

Government funding increases continue to massively favour private schools over public schools according to new figures published by the Australian Curriculum, Reporting and Assessment Authority (ACARA). As a result, Catholic and Independent schools are far better resourced than public schools in every state even though public schools enrol over 80% of all disadvantaged students and 95% of all disadvantaged schools are public schools. This funding trend is set to continue under current funding arrangements and more special deals for private schools from the Morrison Government. This is a recipe for continuing educational, social and economic inequality.

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Funding, Enrolments and Staffing in NSW Public Schools

The following is a summary of a submission to the Independent Inquiry on the Teaching Profession in NSW Public Schools. The full submission can be downloaded below.

The NSW public education system has undergone a huge expansion in bureaucracy since 2003. There was a massive increase in administrative staff in schools and in central and regional offices that is many times greater than the increase in students. Yet, there was only a very small increase in inflation-adjusted funding per student despite a large increase in disadvantaged students. Expanding the bureaucracy was prioritised over funding classroom learning and support. As one former principal told Save Our Schools, it reflects an “increase in roles orchestrating compliance not teaching, learning and curriculum”.

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Turnbull Exposes Rorting of School Funding by Catholic Church

In his recently published memoirs, Malcolm Turnbull thoroughly exposes the hypocrisy of Catholic education authorities in diverting taxpayer funding intended for poor schools to subsidise rich inner-city schools. In doing so, he exposed his own hypocrisy by allowing them to continue to do so under his Gonski 2.0 funding model.

Turnbull says:

I felt too many of the Church leaders were more interested in defending their system and resisting accountability than in fulfilling Jesus’ mission to the poor.

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Wealthy private schools don’t deserve bailout money

The following letter was published in the Washington Post yesterday. It has particular relevance because of similar claims from private schools in Australia for a taxpayer bailout.

I was disappointed to learn from the May 6 Metro article “D.C. prep schools keep federal loans” that many of the area’s private schools are being bailed out with taxpayer money. Sidwell Friends School, with only about 1,100 students, received $5 million in bailout money while charging $45,000 in tuition. If elite private schools cannot keep themselves afloat with that kind of revenue coming in, then those institutions deserve to go belly up and their students sent to D.C.-area public schools, where they can get a comparable, if not superior, education.

These private schools should not be allowed to be bailed out when our public schools are scrambling to redo their budgets and our underpaid public school teachers face potential furloughs. Meanwhile, the largest school district in our area, Fairfax County Public Schools, educates more than 188,000 students and employs more than 24,000 people. FCPS and other D.C.-area public schools graduate some of the best talent in the world, while charging not a cent in tuition.

Districts such as FCPS are mainstays of the local economy that provide priceless value to local communities through education and support. Small, endowment-rich private schools have no business receiving our taxpayer dollars while public school systems around the nation get left behind.

The Coalition Govt Sabotaged the Gonski Funding Model

The following is the conclusion of a Working Paper published by Save Our Schools on the sabotage of the Gonski funding model by the Coalition Government. The paper can be downloaded below.

Comments on the paper are invited. Notification of issues not covered and mistakes of fact, analysis and interpretation will be appreciated. Please excuse any remaining typos and repetitions. Comments can be sent to the Save Our Schools email address:

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