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?”

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”