Julie Novak’s article, Gonski report too narrowly focused shows once again just how little the IPA and its ilk give a dam for ‘other peoples children’.
But her statement that the Australian Education Union (AEU) is pushing for more TAXPAYER funding for GOVERNMENT schools for entirely self-interested reasons is beyond unacceptable – it is disgraceful.
The Australian Education Union has long called for the Gonski recommendations to be implemented, and it is not difficult to understand why. Additional taxpayer funding for government schools would further entrench teachers’ employment, and provide opportunities for the union to skim some of the extra funds via higher teacher salaries in any future negotiations with the states.
Teaching conditions have an impact on classroom learning conditions. To think otherwise is idiocy. Julie could ask the Independent Education Union of Australia for ther views on this link. The AEU have an interest in increasing funding for Government schools because they work in them and know the struggles and challenges involved in delivering high quality education in a cash starved environment that unequally serves the needs of the vast majority of our most needy students.
But we should also keep in mind that the AEU is the most important public school public school advocacy group that we have in this country and they wield nothing like the power of the independent schools lobby – the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ICSA) with the very outspoken and powerful ex senior public servant Bill Daniels as its Executive Director
Unlike independent schools, public schools do not have a Bill Daniel equivalent. The ‘caretaker owners’ of government schools are governments, and oddly enough they cant lobby themselves. When an education system was established in the ACT there was such a body – the ACT Schools Authority – set up to be independent from Government and able to advocate for schools. But it did not last the first major budget cut.
And of course the Independent Schools Association are not at all self interested. They are seeking an increase in funding for the Independent sector because this is the most important priority for Australia today and this is the most effective use of TAXPAYER funds and for the good of all Australians. Do they really believe this? Is it possible? The article also suggests that up till now the independent schools lobby has taken a cautious approach but the gloves are coming off. Well I am telling you now Julie, that the Government schools supporters have also, up to now, taken a cautious and careful approach. They have kept quiet on the important things that implementing Gonski won’t fix, because getting a fairer funding base that is simple, transparent and adjusted according to need is so important.
But even if, by a miracle, we end up with the principles outlined in Gonski applied to education across Australia, we will still have one of the world most segregated and unequal funding systems in the world. It is a system that spends less on government schools than most OECD countries and more on non Government schools than most (see below*).
*As I outlined in a previous post http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13574
“Our funding regime for Government and non-Government schools is highly irregular in global terms. Australia sits around the middle of OECD countries ranked in terms of per capita investment in schooling. But this obscures the bifurcated elements of the funding relative to other countries. Our funding to Government schools is very near the bottom, at third lowest. But our funding to the non-Government system is near the top of the list, at fourth highest.”