Voucher Advocate Recants – “Vouchers are dangerous”

In a welcome display of intellectual honesty, a leading US advocate of school vouchers has recanted. In a damning indictment, Professor Joshua Cowen now says that “vouchers are dangerous” and they “fail to deliver for the kids who are often most in need”. He says that “the evidence is just too stark to justify the use of public money to fund private tuition”.

In an opinion piece in the US education website, The Hechinger Report, Professor Cowan unequivocally stated that voucher programs have failed in the United States:

They promise an all-too-simple solution to tough problems like unequal access to high-quality schools, segregation and even school safety. In small doses, years ago, vouchers seemed like they might work, but as more states have created more and larger voucher programs, experts like me have learned enough to say that these programs on balance can severely hinder academic growth — especially for vulnerable kids.

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Labor Chooses Tax Cuts for the Rich Over Better Funding for Disadvantaged Schools

The Prime Minister has chosen to deliver Scott Morrison’s billions in tax cuts for the rich while disadvantaged schools remain massively under-funded. New research shows that the PM should think again – the tax cuts are a complete waste. Fully funding disadvantaged schools will do more for economic growth than tax cuts for the rich.

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Waiting for Gonski – A Review Essay

The following is a summary of a review essay of Waiting for Gonski by Tome Greenwell and Chris Bonnor. The full review can be downloaded blelow.

Ten years ago, the Review of Funding for Schooling was published. Widely referred to as the “Gonski Report”, it recommended a completely new approach to funding schools in Australia. It was based on a national resource standard for schools – an estimate of the resources required to educate students with no identified disadvantage – supplemented by funding loadings for various categories of disadvantaged students and schools. It took account of both Commonwealth and state and territory government funding for schools.

The Labor Government adopted the basic framework recommended by the Gonski report. It was implemented through the Australian Education Act 2013, the National Education Reform Agreement between the Commonwealth and three state and territory governments and memorandums of understanding with private schools. It planned a $16 billion increase in school funding phased in over six years with over 80 per cent to go to public schools.

Waiting for Gonski by Tom Greenwell and Chris Bonner is a well-researched and well-written account of the history of the Gonski funding inquiry, the flawed implementation of the new funding model by the Labor Government and its destruction by successive Coalition governments. It reveals new information about the implementation of the Gonski model and should be read by anyone concerned about the state of school funding in Australia and inequity in education outcomes.

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Behind the News – The Decline of Public Education

The NSW Education Minister’s idea that the offer of an increase in pay would solve the complete systems failure of NSW’s Public School’s education department reveals her inability to grasp even the fundamental problems facing our schools; the inadequacies that exist have reached crisis point.  There are many obvious explanations of what is wrong primarily the insufficient funding which Trevor Cobbold from the Save Our Schools public schools advocacy group persistently identifies.  Another evident problem is the exhausting, non-teaching duties and administrative workload that has grown in recent years.  It would seem, if the political will existed these problems could be easily solved.  However, the contemporary education bureaucracy is underpinned by a faulty belief system that is the corner stone of all public services, the dependence on the principles of neoliberalism.

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Equity in Education Must be Clearly Defined, Measured and Reported

Equity in education has long been a key national goal for schooling. Most recently, it is one of the key goals in the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration of national goals. However, it has never been clearly defined. This deficiency has resulted in a variety of interpretations, inadequate target, limited reporting and lack of accountability for improving equity. Equity in education should be well-defined in order to effectively guide education policy and funding, measure equity and monitor progress in improving equity.

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Fully Fund Public Schools to Increase Productivity

Prime Minister Albanese says that increasing productivity is a priority for the Labor Government. A key component of increasing productivity is improving workforce knowledge and skills. However, major barriers to improving Australia’s workforce knowledge and skills include the large proportion of disadvantaged students who do not achieve an adequate level of education and the large achievement gaps between rich and poor. Over 80 per cent of disadvantaged students attend public schools and they are massively under-funded. Fully funding public schools will be fundamental to achieving Labor’s goal of increased productivity and economic prosperity because money matters in education.

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Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry on the National School Reform Agreement

The following is a submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry on the National School Reform Agreement by Professor Pasi Sahlberg and Trevor Cobbold.

1.     Introduction

This submission focuses on the issue of the meaning of equity in education and how progress in improving equity can be measured and monitored. It is supported by the attached paper “Leadership for Equity and Adequacy in Education” published in the Journal School Leadership and Management. We consider that the idea of equity is central to national school reform and is not defined clearly enough in the current framework guiding the National School reform Agreement.

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Media Release: A Public Education Agenda for the New Education Minister

Save Our Schools (SOS) today presented a public education agenda for the new Minister for Education, Jason Clare. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that Labor’s silence on crucial issues in public education must end: “The new Minister must step up for public schools”.

“Labor went to the election without an agenda for public education. It cannot be a do nothing government on public education. There are major issues and challenges facing public education that the new Minister must take action on.

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Stuart Robert’s Duplicities on School Funding and Outcomes

Education is the forgotten issue of the Federal election campaign. Yet, it hasn’t stopped the promulgation of highly misleading statements about school performance and funding by the Acting Education Minister, Stuart Robert. He claimed on the 7.30 Report last week that the Government has increased funding for public schools by 113 per cent and 86 per cent for private schools yet Australia’s international results have decreased. Both claims are highly misleading.

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Labor Chooses Privilege Over Fairness in Education

Labor has chosen privilege over fairness in school funding. It has chosen to continue the massive over-funding of Australia’s wealthiest schools and dumped its commitment to fully fund public schools. It is a craven capitulation to the powerful interests in private schools. It denies resources to those most in need. Fairness in school funding has missed out in Labor’s election campaign.

Labor has endorsed Morrison’s massive over-funding of private schools, including hundreds of millions of dollars for the most exclusive schools in Australia. Labor Education Shadow Minister, Tanya Plibersek, recently said that “Catholic and independent schools will not have their funding touched” by a Labor Government. In doing so, she endorsed the rapacious greed of the wealthy for taxpayer resources.

Exclusive Independent schools are massively over-funded by the Morrison Government. Just 50 schools will be over-funded by nearly $400 million from 2022 to 2028 under the current funding arrangements, an average of $8 million per school (see Table below).

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