More Autonomy for NT on schools funding will be the death knell for ‘closing the gap’

I know this is a waste of my breath, but I am begging Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott to visit remote schools in the NT and schools in Darwin with a checklist in hand.  The checklist should include:

  • state of the buildings,
  • state of the grounds,
  • state of the playground,
  • sports facilities
  • water bubblers, pathways, covered ways. shaded areas and ablution areas
  • eating areas
  • existence of specialist areas such as science laboratories, ICT rooms, libraries, teacher staff rooms,
  • experience of principal
  • average teaching experience of staff
  • no of specialist support staff
  • turnover and average experience of teachers
  • average number of children on the roll for each class

Then compare the relative needs of the schools in question – numbers of children who do not yet speak or understand English, NAPLAN scores, student attendance figures special needs and so on.

Then and only then try and tell us that the best way to spend Gonski funding is to give a blank cheque to the NT Government.

The simple fact that every teacher in a Darwin school knows is that the Darwin schools are much more generously funded than the highly disadvantaged remote schools.  They also know that the NT Government, no matter what its political persuasion, will never be able to change this because they would immediately lose office.

To cover for this the Department of education has been pretending to work on a new needs based staffing formula and has been pretending this  since at least 2008.  It is a farce. I have written about this previously here.

And The Chief Minister has admitted that the reason they did not sign on to the ALP Gonski offer is because it would have forced them to shift funds out of Darwin and into remote because the Gonski framework required implementing the needs based approach.

Now it looks like Minister Pyne will give NT the funds with no restrictions.  And at the same time NT are cutting positions right across remote NT.  Indigenous peoples are being ripped off in the name of Gonski and this just makes me want to weep.

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One thought on “More Autonomy for NT on schools funding will be the death knell for ‘closing the gap’

  1. Dear Margaret I sent your previous blog on the NT government’s sleight of hand basing staffing of remote Indigenous schools on attendance and not on enrolment and including Aboriginal education assistants among the fully qualified professional teachers to make it look as if they were teachers to as many people as I could think of with direct concern with education and social justice. They included people in Schools of Education, to the Australian College of Educators, and to members of the Australian Federation of Graduate Women. I also sent it to Dr Gerald White, of the ACER who values your work, your research and your commitment to social justice in education. he knows how vital this is fore the emotional growth and well-being for What Pyne is doing is not surprising. He has no interest in ‘closing the gap. He has found a way conveniently to ignore the fact that the Gonski Report focuses on the different needs bases of schools, so often government schools, and funds should be allocated in such a way that these schools do not continue to be disadvantaged. However The new Minister for Education is more interested in Magna Carta as part of Australian history than the forty thousand year Footprints of the First Australians. Recently in Adelaide, Warren Mundine made clear that the Abbott government’s focus on ‘closing the gap’ is too narrow. On Radio National Breakfast Dr Ken Boston made clear that the way the Abbott government is allocating the Gonski funds guarantees the perpetuation of the most ‘socially segregated system of education in the western world”. The NT government is even more cynical. Both parties will continue to care more about the schools in the Darwin area than the remote Indigenous schools. I will try again. Thank you for all you are going trying to get us to see.

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