Defining Equity in Education

A paper by Pasi Sahlberg and Trevor Cobbold is published in the academic journal School Leadership and Management. The paper reviews approaches to defining equity in education and proposes a unique dual objective comprising an adequate education for all students and similar outcomes for students from different social groups.

Abstract

Equity has become a central principle in educational policy and leadership around the world. However, there is a wide range of interpretations of equity and what it means in education. In this article we explore different definitions of educational equity from policy and leadership perspectives. Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education to overcome vague interpretations and better guide the development of educational leadership for more consistent approaches to improving equity in education. We argue that equity in education should refer to equity of educational outcomes and incorporate both an individual and a social group aspect. We then claim that equality of outcomes is more relevant to comparisons between social groups than individuals, and we call that social equity. In current literature one or the other aspect has been adopted as an equity objective, but it appears combining the two elements is much less common. This dual objective is unique in the discussion around what equity in education means and how it could guide educational policymaking and leadership.

Minister’s Spin Rewrites History

Governments regularly resort to spin to deceive the public and avoid accountability. The NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, adopted this underhand practice in her response to criticism by Save Our Schools that she failed to implement Department of Education protocols for consulting on school closures and amalgamations in the case of the Murwillumbah super-school.

She claims there was widespread consultation. As evidence, she says the Department of Education and School Infrastructure NSW ran workshops in the schools and surveyed the communities about the plan. Her claim is completely disingenuous.

This is a furphy. Department documents show that the only consultation was on the design of the new building. There was NO consultation on whether the schools should be amalgamated prior to the Minister’s announcement last October. It came as a complete shock to the community. Since then, the only consultation has been on the design of the building.

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Minister’s ‘Cloak and Dagger’ Tactics on Murwillumbah Super-School

The NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, has ignored her Department’s protocols in forcing the amalgamation of four Murwillumbah schools into a single super-school. The protocols provide for detailed consultation with school communities and specific criteria to be met before schools are closed or amalgamated. Instead, the amalgamation was announced without any prior consultation with communities.

The Minister has treated the Murwillumbah community with breathtaking arrogance and contempt in bulldozing the amalgamation through and refusing to fully consult with state principal, teacher and parent representative bodies and with local school communities. The only consultation will be on the design of the building, not on whether the schools should be amalgamated.

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Public Schools do More than Private Schools with Fewer Resources

The following is a summary of an Education Research Paper published by Save Our Schools. The full paper can be downloaded below.

Public schools have to do much more than private schools with far fewer resources. New figures show that public schools continue to bear the large burden of education disadvantage. Enrolments of disadvantaged students in public schools are over double that in private schools but public schools have far less income. The burden of disadvantage of public schools is three times that of private schools when their lower income is considered.

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Education Dept Still Dragging its Feet on Holding Private Schools Accountable for Taxpayer Funding

Yet another damning report by the Auditor-General shows that the Commonwealth Department of Education continues to fail to fully hold private school systems accountable for how they distribute taxpayer funding. It also criticises the Minister for Education and the Department for failing to meet their parliamentary reporting obligations.

The report found that the Department has made minor improvements since the 2017 report of the Audit Office castigated the Department for failing to ensure accountability and transparency in funding of private schools. However, the new report found that the Department is still not fully meeting its legislative responsibilities eight years after the Australian Education Act was implemented.

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New Figures Reveal Increasing Resource Advantage for Private Schools

Figures recently published by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on its National Report on Schooling data portal show that income per student of Catholic and Independent schools is much higher than for public schools and that their income has increased six to eight times that of public schools since 2009. The increasing resource advantage of private schools is mainly due to much larger government funding increases than for public schools.

The resource advantage of private schools is projected to accelerate over the rest of the decade to 2029. Commonwealth funding for private schools will increase under special deals not available to public schools and bilateral funding agreements between them and the Commonwealth allow the states to continue to under-fund public schools.

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Tudge Fudges School Results and Funding

The Minister for Education, Alan Tudge, resorted to fudging figures to denigrate Australia’s school performance at the The Age education summit last week. He claimed the UK as the new benchmark for education performance but he misrepresented its results by ignoring serious flaws in them and other evidence showing no improvement. He also fudged data on school funding and student results in Australia.

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Morrison Abandons Needs-Based Funding

The following is a section from a new Working Paper published by Save Our Schools on the the abandonment of needs-based funding and the massive funding increase for private schools by the Morrison Government. The Government has completed the demolition of the Gonski funding model begun by the Abbott and Turnbull governments and re-affirmed funding choice as its priority. 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: saveourschools690@gmail.com

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Disadvantage accelerates as private school funding rises six times public schools over the decade

Education Minister Alan Tudge has now declared that the school funding wars are over. But they are only over in the minds of the Morrison Government, which has demolished the Gonski fairer-funding model and lavished billions more on private schools.

The war is certainly not over for public schools, with new figures showing them falling further behind. Chronic under-funding of public schools presents huge costs to individuals, society and national economic prosperity.

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Govt Funding Increases are Grossly Unfair – They Favour the Most Advantaged Over the Most Disadvantaged

Government funding for private schools increased by six times that for public schools since 2009-10 according to new research by Save Our Schools. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said the heavy bias against public schools is grossly unfair.

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