Means-tested School Fees Would Undermine Public Education

The proposal by the free market Centre for Independent Studies that high-income families should pay to send their children to a public school would spell the end of public education as we know it. It would likely lead to a two-tiered public system with access to a quality education restricted to those who pay. This could be exacerbated by ever-increasing fees. Fees are also likely to encourage a greater shift to private schools and increase social segregation in schooling.

The introduction of means-tested fees would undermine two fundamental goals of free universal public education: to ensure that all children irrespective of background have equal access to high quality education and have children from different backgrounds learn together so as to promote greater understanding and tolerance between different social groups.

Free public education is necessary to ensure non-discrimination and non-selectivity in access to high quality schooling. It ensures that children cannot be excluded from a quality education for reasons of family background and low income. In a democracy, education outcomes should not depend on family background, wealth and ability to pay. Continue reading “Means-tested School Fees Would Undermine Public Education”

Unwarranted Speculation by Melbourne University Study

The finding by a Melbourne University study that Catholic (and other private) school students have higher lifetime earnings than public school students is not surprising. Lifetime earnings are influenced by education results which in turn are strongly influenced by socio-economic status (SES) and Catholic schools enrol proportionately more high SES students and fewer low SES students than public schools. Continue reading “Unwarranted Speculation by Melbourne University Study”

Private Schools Are No Better Than Public Schools

A new education research brief from Save Our Schools shows that private schools do not achieve better results than public schools.

Christopher Pyne’s agenda to make government schools more like private schools has come under challenge before it has even got off the ground. His claims that it will lead to better education outcomes are contradicted by two new Australian research studies and two new US studies. Continue reading “Private Schools Are No Better Than Public Schools”

New US Studies Show that Public Schools do Better than Private Schools

Critics of public education system have long argued that public schools would benefit from being operated more like private schools. Indeed, this is a central belief of the new Abbott Government and its education minister, Christopher Pyne.

However, there is mounting evidence to the contrary. In addition to recent Australian studies that show declining performance by private schools relative to government schools (here and here ), two new US studies have also undercut the belief that private schools do better than public schools. It appears that making public schools more like private schools is not the answer to improving education.

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Study Shows Catholic Schools Have Lost any Academic Advantage over Government Schools

A new study shows the relative performance of Catholic schools has declined since 1980. The advantage that Catholic schools once held over government schools has virtually disappeared and attendance at Catholic schools may now lead to lower completion rates in secondary school and university.

The findings of the study present a simple message for parents who send their children to Catholic schools – if you think you are getting some advantage in educational achievements from sending your child to a Catholic school rather than a government school, think again. Continue reading “Study Shows Catholic Schools Have Lost any Academic Advantage over Government Schools”

The Blueberry Story: The Teacher Gives the Businessman a Lesson

“If I ran my business the way you people operate your schools, I wouldn’t be in business very long!”

I stood before an auditorium filled with outraged teachers who were becoming angrier by the minute. My speech had entirely consumed their precious 90 minutes of inservice. Their initial icy glares had turned to restless agitation. You could cut the hostility with a knife. Continue reading “The Blueberry Story: The Teacher Gives the Businessman a Lesson”

Public Education Builds Social Cohesion

A Los Angeles parent pays homage to public education and its role in building social cohesion

Volunteer badge prominently and proudly displayed, this morning I observed a PE class in a LAUSD (Los Angeles Urban School District) middle school on a special bell schedule, preparatory to engulfing its students in hours of imminent CST (California Standards Tests) tests.

The sight is profound. Embodied there is the raison d’etre of public schooling, as well as one of the underlying reasons this particular school is so successful. It is why I did not send my kid to the local “amazing” charter. It is a PE field filled with 300 children, moving their bodies effectively, therapeutically, mind-growingly. And most of all, it is a melting pot. It is not even a lumpy stew of integration, it is a 52-ring circus of homogeneity. Continue reading “Public Education Builds Social Cohesion”

New Network for Public Education

A new network for public education has been announced in the United States. Its role is to fight against high stakes testing and the privatisation of public education and to connect grassroots activists from communities across the country to share information, ideas and resources. This is a statement the Network released upon its launch. Continue reading “New Network for Public Education”

Handouts for Private School Parents – Arrests for Public School Parents

Australian public education is free, compulsory and secular. Or at least that was the intention of the early colonial rulers whose Public Instruction Acts of the 1880s decreed such to be the case.

Yet it was revealed recently in the South Australian daily paper The Advertiser that thousands of parents have been prosecuted for failing to pay public school fees this year. In fact, 271 parents had been issued arrest warrants for failing to appear in court over the matter.

Arrest warrants?  For failure to pay fees in a supposedly free system??!!

Continue reading “Handouts for Private School Parents – Arrests for Public School Parents”

Does the Coalition Want to Abolish Free Public Education?

Is the Coalition considering abolishing free public education by the introduction of means-tested fees in government schools? This is a key question arising from a widely-reported speech in London last month by Federal Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, about ending the age of entitlement.

Hockey said that the age of entitlement is over and that Australia has to re-think its approach to universal free services. He called for a reduction in universal free services and proposed a co-payment by users of these services. He cited the example of health services in Australia which are partly funded through compulsory levies paid to either government or private health insurers.

Interviewed about his speech on the ABC’s Lateline (18 April 2012), Hockey said that the Coalition will be looking closely at a whole range of entitlements. He said that Australia must reduce the size of government.

Hockey’s speech raises the spectre of fees in government schools. He included education as part of the entitlement system that he says should be wound back. Although he did not say so explicitly, the logical implication of his argument is that universal free public education should be abolished and means-tested fees introduced in government schools.

Continue reading “Does the Coalition Want to Abolish Free Public Education?”