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?”

The Finnish Way of Public Education

These answers to questions about public education in Finland are from Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of the National Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland, and adjunct Professor at the University of Helsinki and at the University of Oulu. This article was originally published on Pasi Salhberg’s blog on 9 April 2012. Continue reading “The Finnish Way of Public Education”

More Evidence that Private Schools Do No Better than Public Schools

The Dutch education system provides fertile ground for comparing the results of public and private schools. The Netherlands has the largest private school sector of any country in the world with 72% of secondary school students attending government funded private schools. If private schools produce higher education outcomes than public schools as the advocates of the privatisation of education claim, then The Netherlands is the country where this should be happening. But, apparently this is not the case. Continue reading “More Evidence that Private Schools Do No Better than Public Schools”

Public Education Should be Free, Even for the Well-Off

Advocates of the privatisation of public education want a user-pay system in government schools. They reject the basic principle of free, universal provision. Their strategy is to get an initial breach of the principle of free education with means-tested fees for the well-off. Continue reading “Public Education Should be Free, Even for the Well-Off”

The Myths of Waiting for “Superman”

The Davis Guggenheim directed documentary Waiting for “Superman” is currently on preview in Australia and is due to be released in early March. The film has generated enormous controversy about the picture it presents of public education in the United States. It tells the story of five children who enter a lottery to gain entry to a charter school. Charter schools in the US are privately operated schools funded by government. They are seen as a source of competition to improve public education in the US.

The following is a summary of a review of the film published in the New York Review of Books by Diane Ravitch, Professor of Education at New York University, former US Assistant Secretary of Education under George Bush Snr and author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Continue reading “The Myths of Waiting for “Superman””

We Need Public Education

I think that public education is a fundamental institution in our democracy. Free public education—open to all, free to all, controlled by democratic means—is a central promise of our democratic society. Its purposes are civic, not just utilitarian; it exists to strengthen our democracy and our society. I believe it is wrong to privatize it. We must continue to have schools that are the center of their communities, where children are students, not products, and parents are citizens, not customers.

There is a strong rationale for public support of public education. As Robert Hutchins once wrote, they are part of the res publica, the public thing. Like public parks, public libraries, and fire departments, they are part of our communal responsibility. We must strengthen them, make them far better than they are now. To blame them for all the ills of our society, for all the demographic changes of the past generation, for all the burdens imposed by courts and legislatures, is wrong. To destroy them would be a civic crime.

From Diane Ravitch, We Need Public Schools and Democratic Governance

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