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Class warriors take on poor schools with education cuts

Our Liberal-run states are locked into a self-made and self-fulfilling prophesy of budgetary crisis. It seems that running a deficit budget which is at the heart of liberal Keynesian economic theory is…

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (left) has slashed funding for state schools. AAP/Paul Millar

Our Liberal-run states are locked into a self-made and self-fulfilling prophesy of budgetary crisis. It seems that running a deficit budget which is at the heart of liberal Keynesian economic theory is anathema today to Victoria, NSW and Queensland state treasurers.

And if a state needs to cut its budget you might assume it would look at non-essential services, such as the state promotion and marketing budget or support for major private corporate events such as horse racing.

But what do Queensland and NSW do? Well conservative voters have private health cover and their children attend independent schools so they attack the essential services that cater for the more disadvantaged sectors of the community: health and education.

And if the education budget is to pruned then you might assume that the first place to wield the razor might be the schools that need money the least, and the schools that are not actually answerable to the state that funds them - the independent and Catholic school sectors. But that would be too logical by half.

So while the private schools will have their budgets maintained after incredible pressure from backbenchers and their lobbyists, including his eminence Cardinal Pell, the private school system walks away with its budgets intact.

They will cry poor, and say that they have taken a real cut because of lack of indexation. The chief executive of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, Kim Cull, said the funding cuts would stifle non-government schools' ability to cater to the disadvantaged.

Given that 80% of disadvantaged children, 85% of Indigenous children and 79% of children with disabilities attend government schools, he shouldn’t be too worried about the impact on his system.

At the same time the NSW government has followed the incredibly same short-sighted path as Victoria, slashing TAFE staff and increasing TAFE fees by twice the amount of inflation. Those who attend TAFE come from the more disadvantaged communities of our nation. They will not have the ability to pay their fees and will vote with their feet. Never mind the question of who will build the infrastructure of the future if the country doesn’t have skilled tradespeople.

And just like in Victoria, NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said teachers' jobs would be unaffected, with the job cuts to come from the “back office”, from state and regional offices of the department. Clearly the minister has no idea how education works in the state school system.

So-called “back office” staff are the exact same professionals who would oversee the lifting of standards of student achievement, run the testing programs, implement the new National Curriculum and look after student and teacher welfare. These day-to-day essential services are absolutely required if the children of NSW are to have the very best education possible.

But this phenomenon is not isolated to NSW. In Victoria not only has Premier Ted Baillieu failed to keep his promise to make Victoria’s teachers the best paid in Australia, but education minister Martin Dixon has also slashed $74 million from so-called “inessential” staff such as literacy and numeracy coaches, along with more than $100 million from alternate year 12 courses almost exclusively offered by disadvantaged state schools.

At a time when Australia’s educational achievement is slipping and the Gonski Review has called for huge increases in funding to ensure that the growing equity gap between advantaged and disadvantaged communities is closed, such actions are not only counter- productive but incredibly short-sighted.

Tim Soutphommasane recently wrote in The Age:

Barely a week now goes by without someone crying ‘class warfare’, though it is the super-rich and their political allies who complain the most. The phrase has become part of the new conservative political correctness in this country. Any redistribution of resources tends to be portrayed as illegitimate government action, any talk about social justice to be denounced as an exercise in downward envy.

Tim is right, this indeed is a class war. But as always, its the poor who lose out in the end.

Join the conversation

57 Comments sorted by

  1. John Phillip
    John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grumpy Old Man

    David have you got ANY evidence to back up your rant? :

    a) "Our Liberal-run states are locked into a self-made and self-fulfilling prophesy of budgetary crisis."
    After a decade plus of ALP mismanagement - I dont call that self-made.

    b)"conservative voters have private health cover and their children attend independent schools"
    I am a conservative voter and have neither.

    "So-called “back office” staff are the exact same professionals who would oversee the lifting of standards of student achievement"
    I've been teaching for 25 years and can't wait to see the EQ bureaucracy cut - it has overseen nothing but its own growth.

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    1. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to John Phillip

      John
      Your comments about David's lack of academic rigour have been raised before on this blog, and yet the editors of the Conversation still get him to write more articles. I suppose he plays well to the "soft left" ALP/Green profile of the vast majority of Conversation bloggers.
      This article is laughable in the extreme, even by David's standards. The state governments have very intelligently done exactly what the ALP/Green coalition government has done which is to continue funding independent…

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    2. Jon Ford

      Researcher

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Hello again Ken

      There is also a recurring theme in your posts (that funding needs to continue to private schools at the expense of public schools otherwise the education system will collapse). You didn't reply to my comment pasted below then. Perhaps this time.

      (Copied from The Conversation - http://theconversation.edu.au/gillard-and-abbotts-race-to-the-top-to-support-private-schools-8942#comment_66210)

      I come back to my point raised earlier and rebutted by Ken to a point. Is there any…

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    3. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      The DOGS Case showed that government subsidies to private schools was just middle class charity for parents wanting to impress their neighbours that they could afford to buy a second rate education for their kids.

      @Jon Ford: That opinion is based on 30 years in education, both at private & state schools.

      @Ken Swanson: As biology undergraduates we always stated the geologists had rocks in their head.

      The parochial Catholic school system has had 50 years of government subsidy to bring their standards up to equivalent state schools, yet this still allegedly remains a shortfall. At some near point in time perhaps we should declare the parochial system unable to be fixed & re-direct this funding to state schools where needs are well known & documented.

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    4. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to John Phillip

      @John Phillips:

      "I've been teaching for 25 years" and therein lies the problem. Perhaps you would have preferred a career in some other profession that is better suited to your talents.

      "and can't wait to see the EQ bureaucracy cut" ... did you miss out on promotion to the elite high salary "work is an optional extra" departmental executive service position?

      "- it has overseen nothing but its own growth." ... this is common to all bureaucratic pyramids.

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    5. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Jon Ford

      Jon
      As a long standing board member of a private school and as a council member of a state primary school before that all I can offer is the regular exit surveys/ personal interviews with parents. All independent schools have such data. A movement in fees of 5% has a massive impact across the sector.
      If the sector is diminished over time then all this achieves is a race to the bottom with the public sector. Numbers will cross to the "free" service which will then cost the taxpayer 3 times as much for each of these students. The parents will keep their money in their pocket.
      Public schools should get more money, but it makes no economic sense to take it from the independent school sector.

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    6. Jon Ford

      Researcher

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Thanks Ken. I respect your experience in the sector. But there is really insufficient evidence on any of the blogs I've been involved with to support your premise. Since Howard introduced the private school subsidy fees have continued to go up commonly by 10% per annum or more. This has been accompanied by an increase not decrease in proportions of students in private schools. Your argument in my view is typical of the fear based campaigns that I have listed (and which no-one has refuted). There is no precedent to support the likelihood of the consequences you predict occurring. Does anyone really think the consumer won't adapt if funding slowly is prioritised to the students who need it (as proposed in Gonski)??

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    7. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Jon Ford

      Numbers of students in the independent sector is limited by capacity. New schools have emerged particularly lower fee ($10-$15k per annum) religious based ones. This is in response to the PC push in the state sector to secularise everything.
      It also costs as much to run an independent school as a state school once you factor in the cost of capital replenishment. In addition the economies of scale are not the same as a large state system. This is why fees are as they are and increase as they do.
      Let me now ask you for some evidence. Produce a study that proves that a reduction in government subsidies both state and federal will not produce the scenario I have outlined, I at least have hard data from parent interviews, what do you have?

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    8. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Ken, I'd love to conduct the experiment your challenge requires. Are you really asking the Federal and State Governments to de-fund, say for five years, all private schools so we can see if the private system falls apart and if, consequently, Australian public education races to the bottom? But I don't think you really want that, I think you and your confreres would lobby hard against such an experiment, so it is actually a straw man argument: fallacious, specious and worthless.

      As for your interviews, what do you expect them to say? Yes stop subsidizing my child's school so I can pay more? Just a trifle disingenuous don't you think?

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    9. Jon Ford

      Researcher

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Thanks Ken. The line of argument I have pursued you on is:
      • Most people see the logic of spending money where it is most needed; on those whose education outcomes are worst. Surely we're not debating the importance of equality in society (including education outcomes)
      • John Howard increased the ratio of private:public funding, presumably for political means dressed up as choice (incidentally before this increase in funding, private schools were doing just fine)
      • You and others regularly argue…

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    10. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      On the contrary there is a plethora of Education academics conducting research all the time who could if they wished pick up such a challenge. The responses of parents are no less valid as data any more than other surveys done across all of academia in the social sciences. We could even build a model and track changes in the variables over time without dismantling the system to prove your point. The problem I think Dennis is that academics do not want to discover the answer because it will not conform to their world view. We in the the independent sector know through the tracking of exit interviews combined with the payment history of fees over 30-40 years what the stress points are. It is our business to know. Those who aim to tear down the independent sector come from an ingrained idealogical hatred which has nothing to do with rational economics.
      I say again, state schools should have more money, but not at the expense of the independent sector.

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    11. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Jon Ford

      Why is this a zero sum game. I agree state schools should have more money.
      Of course you can reduce funding over time but in order for the market to adjust it would have to be 10-15 years or to put it mildly 4-5 election cycles with no changes (so lets work in the real world shall we?). Anything more drastic would have an impact because of 2 factors; the long term planning of independent schools in terms of their offerings and the long term purchase decisions of parents which are affected by such…

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    12. Jon Ford

      Researcher

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Ken. 10 years is not a long time and I doubt that Abbott would tackle the issue given all the other roll backs he's got on his plate. He also probably knows that Howard's policy is probably only borderline politically advantageous anyway. 10 years to claw back a flawed policy would be a lot better than keeping it for longer. And once its clawed back we'd be back in the place before Howard put the policy in place. And that wasn't so bad for private schools?

      Gotta do some work now. So have to leave it at agree to disagree. I'll even let you have the last word

      Jon

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    13. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Arguably, Finland conducted the experiment (Finnish Lessons, Parsi Sahlberg, 2011): where do they rank on PISA?
      If, as you assert, a model could be built to demonstrate your conjectures, the Kevin Donnellys and Des Moroes, not to mention the CIS and IPA, would have done so and trumpeted the results from the rooftops. But they haven't and they aren't, so we'll just have to wait for someone "independent" to do so and see what assumptions are needed and data accepted.

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    14. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Well Jack, I think I do a good job teaching and it appears that my peers and students agree so I think i am well suited two the profession. If you are upset because I don't like David's position or his argument try countering rather than the ad hominem.
      To your second point, I am on the top senior teacher 2 scale - so no worries there. Oh, yea and I, along with most of the 70 odd thousand of us working in Qld schools, work our backsides off. Your attempted criticism actually highlights one of the…

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    15. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Ken, I am very interested in the research you say is being done. As a former State system teacher and alumni of a selective-entry girls school, this area has been of interest for years. I know no academic who has been able to get the dual methodological research (qualitative and quantitative) funded to do what you suggest.

      I agree it would be a highly valuable piece of empirical data from which education policy can be derived, however there is one bucket of funds for educational research and surely…

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    16. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      I just hope that the current announcements by the Queensland Government to slash expenditure in the education system in your State does not making teaching and educating even harder. The 'back office' staff to be cut will determine the quality of education that remains in place even after the 'bureaucratic growth' of the last 15 years (which would have happened regardless of which political party was in office, as bureaucracies are self-sustaining entities). My issue is thatthe cuts will not fall…

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  2. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

    Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

    I agree with John Philip. The article seems like a left wing rant and rave only. If only you would have had to visit any QLD Health facility during Labor years, you would see it was class warfare indeed, between dumb labor ideology and its own people. Care to remember the QLD Health payroll debacle? I guess not.

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      I don't see the writer investigating Labor political mismanagement of expenditure debacles just prompting a healthy debate about where cuts to budgets are made, and the reference that Education and Health bugets are where State governments are empowered to make cuts is interesting, more in what it does not say... lack of funding in infrastructure of all kinds, lack of adequate development and planning policies, lack of cohesive environmental policies and decision, and the all too often budgetted for 'major events' and tourism campaigns. To ignore these areas is being similarly selective of one's areas for comment.

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  3. Pat Norman

    logged in via Facebook

    I actually hugely disagree with you, John and Stephanus. The core point of this article (and Gonski, as a matter of fact) is that educational disadvantage is concentrated in the public school system. And the system as it stands is exacerbating those inequities. Now is not the time to be making huge cuts to the institution on which our entire society is based. We all go to school, it's silly to reduce the quality of our education (particularly where Victorian ministers use terms like 'inessential'). Removing back-office staff can only increase the administrative load on teachers and reduce the quality of their time in the classroom. You can't defend these cuts, they're just excessive and damaging,

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  4. Michael Brown

    Professional, academic, company director

    I can't recall reading a less professional article. The profound partisan bias does damage to the Monash reputation and to universities in general.

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    1. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to Michael Brown

      I am loathe to respond to the trolling of Ken Swanson who can only see "red" when anyone dares question the sacrosactity of private school funding.

      This was not my brief for this opinion piece, nor was it the central focus of my analysis of budget cuts. I have sought to highlight the inequity (and economic malfeasiance) of asking public schools who the taxpayers of NSW pay for and to whom the schools are answerable to take a cut in thier actual budget while maintainin the budgets of private schools…

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  5. Ross Lambert

    Builder

    Some excellent points. Here in WA we have an election coming and our Liberal government talk up how tight everything is. The reality is WA is drowning in cash. So that leaves two options for understanding the situation - one is that the WA government is so staggeringly incompetent that it can't make money in the middle of a boom or that it is driven by a political agenda of shifting public money into wealthy private hands. I suspect both are true but the second option is definitely true. In WA there seems to be plenty of money to send 100s of police 3000km north to protect mining interests at James Price Point but no money to keep a school that specializes in educating autistic kids open. hmmm.

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    1. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Ross Lambert

      Hey Ross, just out of interest, when the notification of the autistic kid's school closure was announced, did someone for the bureaucracy utter words around the concept of 'inclusive education'? It seems that this catch cry has been used by education departments and governments to close special schools for the last 30 odd years.

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  6. Rosco Hamilton

    logged in via Facebook

    I agree that this is a very poor article. I believe in the importance of quality public education.
    It's fair enough for David to argue that Liberal Governments cutting funding from public education is a bad move, but I would have thought he could back up his assertions with something more substantive than "less money is bad".
    Surely The Conversation has higher standards than allowing writers to produce articles based on nothing more than normative statements.

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rosco Hamilton

      I have decided not to look at this article as academic research, but as commentary, and as such has a place here on the Conversation site. All columnists use 'unsubstantiated claims' or lack 'academic rigour'. It is the difference between printing in an online academic journal and contributing gto a forum for the exchange of ideas AND ideologies. This is the space for the public intellectual now silenced in our University systems. Those who disagree with any columnist get a right of reply, but complaining…

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    2. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Good idea to not view this article as academic research. That at least will give great comfort to the academics at Monash University. If all the Conversation articles amount to though is commentary based on loose assertions from academics like David, then why not give the rest of us a chance to submit and get articles published? My understanding was that academics got this forum because they were dare I say more "academic".

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    3. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      What worries me is that we do have access to places for academic articles yet are slowly being denied access by commercial publishers or our won Institutions marketing/PR departmants to make general and provocative discussion starters. I would have assumed that The Conversation is not viewed by academics as yet another cite for publication metrics... but a good old discussion debate over a cup of coffee in the staffroom, only this time more in keeping with the possibilities for communication and collaboration provided by the web and social networking also. We need people prepared to speak publicly and take a stand, with or without rigourous academic data to back up the contentions. We need to know who thinks as we do, who disagrees and engage positively with the broader debate.

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    4. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to Rosco Hamilton

      I am loathe to respond to the trolling of Ken Swanson who can only see "red" when anyone dares question the sacrosactity of private school funding.

      This was not my brief for this opinion piece, nor was it the central focus of my analysis of budget cuts. I have sought to highlight the inequity (and economic malfeasiance) of asking public schools who the taxpayers of NSW pay for and to whom the schools are answerable to take a cut in thier actual budget while maintainin the budgets of private schools…

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    5. Jon Ford

      Researcher

      In reply to David Zyngier

      Thanks David. I actually think Ken has (at least in the comments I've responded to) presented a common argument that needs rebutting. I have to say he's been pretty level headed when responding to me at least. I do think people opposing excess private school funding need to discuss such things, provided both sides discuss in a reasonable manner.

      Jon

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    6. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Tell that to the Climate Science academics who pillory and arrogantly sneer at any "non academic" discussion. This blog is full of them.

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    7. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Jack,

      Thiis a pure and unadulterated ad hominem attack on another person who has written a comment. I really think in all decnecy you shouold apologise to John Philips. Your remarks say much more about the character of Jack Arnold than they do about John Philips.
      John Nicol jonicol18@bigpond.com

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  7. Graham Young

    Project Manager

    Disheartening to read comments that assume left-wing bias when the article is a fair comment on the budget slashing to the Eastern States education sector. That WA is following suit, beggars belief - isn't this one of the high speed economies?

    Seems there is a concerted campaign to render public education completely worthless, whenever reasonable questions such as, who will be performing the administrative tasks if "back-room" workers are sacked?

    Apparently "class-warfare" only applies if the people who can most afford it are asked to pitch in. This country made these wealthy people possible - most of whom gained their degrees free of charge thanks to Whitlam, yet now deny anyone else wanting even a basic primary and secondary education in classrooms that don't leak during rain or roast students during heat-waves.

    Surely even the right want skilled up workers?

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Young

      As a generalisation I would think what the 'right' want is unskilled labor to keep pressure on the unions and open slather on transient off-shore workers being shipped in on substandard contracts, hourly wages without any guaranteed conditions and safeguards. It came from one oligarch's own mouth just last week the praise for South African miners rates of $2 per day.

      Yet they bristle at the term oligrach which is precisely the descriptor of this right wing elite. I ask all my collegues, could you look at yourself in the mirror each morning if you were paying your lawn mowing person or housecleaner $2 per day. Surely we pay even more than that for pet insurance or dog walking services! Academic please stop sniping across artificial gender and ideological dichotomies and address the issues being raised by the columnist.

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    2. Graham Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Carol-Ann Croker

      I don't think that Gina actually meant we should pay unskilled Aussie workers $2 per day. However, she did advocate cutting the minimum wage to become "competitive" and keeping a fair number of people unskilled would help facilitate this. And I take your point about keeping this labour force from becoming unionised.

      I can only try to remain optimistic, that enough people will keep on pointing out the inequities in Australia's school system to ensure that public education is…

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    3. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Young

      Thank goodness for Get Up and Activism... but some of us are getting old and it seems many of our policy makers and business leaders forget lessons from the past in this Country. I am just getting tired of ths ame old rants from the privileged in our society. It saddens me that people think there is no space for social commentary here, unless it is academically rigoroous and backed up by empriral data (an almost impossible request for many subjects).

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    4. Graham Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      I am feeling jaded myself and even older. The same old arguments made by people who are not even threatened, in fact have much to gain if they could remove the blinkers, by a well educated society.

      That there is so much misunderstanding on issues like climate change, is a direct result of too many people not having the basics of science. Whether the self-entitled like it or not, the world changes and we must change along with it.

      One of the whines that really hits my buttons is the "I pay taxes...." Well even low income people pay taxes, it is called GST if they are not working and PAYE if they are.

      Your comment regarding empirical data is true - whatever happened to actual knowledge and/or reason? I have seen enough to know that everyone has a story to tell, that the experiences of people are worth hearing instead of being shouted down by people with more moves than a cut snake.

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  8. duncan mills

    logged in via LinkedIn

    David you have done well to promote much needed conversation on the administration of education. I feel it is well enough grounded in reality to make a point. Rhetorical is licence is necessary to energise debate. Pedantic academic writing numbs the soul, does not energergise conversation, for most.

    From a Queensland perspective: I believe cuts are necessary within administration. It contributes little to the productivity of the schools due to its tendency self serving managerial and administrative…

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to duncan mills

      Uhm ... sounds like Queensland Education has been taking lessons from the NSW Education Department.

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    2. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to duncan mills

      I am loathe to respond to the trolling of Ken Swanson who can only see "red" when anyone dares question the sacrosactity of private school funding.

      This was not my brief for this opinion piece, nor was it the central focus of my analysis of budget cuts. I have sought to highlight the inequity (and economic malfeasiance) of asking public schools who the taxpayers of NSW pay for and to whom the schools are answerable to take a cut in thier actual budget while maintainin the budgets of private schools…

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    3. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to David Zyngier

      David
      I agree state schools should get more money in line with Gonski's report. If that is your position too then I have no issue with you. But when you write an article which directly advocates for greater funding for state schools at the expense of independent schools then by definition you have introduced the funding question yourself. So please do not refer to me as a troll as I am following the thread of your article.
      Furthermore, when you also lace your rhetoric with overt and rather hackneyed 1950s class warrior anti Liberal themes, you must expect bloggers to respond in kind. That is not trolling. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

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    4. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Ok now Ken you are actually trying to engage in what I have written here today! Where do I say that I "advocate for greater funding for state schools at the expense of independent schools".

      What I did write is:
      "if the education budget is to pruned then you might assume that the first place to wield the razor might be the schools that need money the least, and the schools that are not actually answerable to the state that funds them – the independent and Catholic school sectors. But that would be too logical by half."

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    5. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Zyngier

      David, I think the use of trolling in this instant is inflamatory and will do little to advance any meaningful exchange. If Ken is becoming known for posts of a particular persuasion, then other respondents, like myself will judge the inherent bias for ourselves. The Academy itself privileges discourses about academic rigour and merot which cloak systemic discrimination and overt positioning of STEM research as "more valuable" than HASS research. It is one of the many issues where funding is most…

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  9. Director Edupunk

    Education Analyst

    Given that a great majority of most state/territory budgets are directed towards health and education it really isn't a surprise that these are the areas in which governments look for savings.

    It is demonstrably false that non-government schools have "walked away" with their "budgets intact" or even "maintained". Fairfax papers report that this is a cut of 3 per cent and is worth $116 milion over 4 years.

    Additionally, Kim Cull, the chief executive of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, quoted by Dr Zyngier is a woman not a man.

    Quite a sloppy article to be offered to this site.

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  10. Jack Bloomfield

    Retired Engineer

    Great article David -you tell it like it is.
    When will these conservative governments ever realise they are there to govern fairly in the interests of all citizens.
    Running a state government is not like running a business, immediate profit is not essential.
    Their job is to plan ahead; take measures that assure the future prosperity of their citizens and to make provision for the disadvantaged/handicapped in the society.
    Education and training are an investment in the future; the return is…

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    1. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Jack Bloomfield

      Running a state government is not like running a business, immediate profit is not essential.

      Where do the states get their money from then? Primarily from the Federal Government. Wayne Swan does not appear to be stumping up too much cash to the states in line with Gonski and he also does not appear to be taking it away from independent schools either. The ALP/Greens coalition can raise money and print money through the RB, states cannot. Encouraging parents to keep paying the education bill disproportionately though and on a user pays basis from their own pocket gets some private sector savings into the overall system.
      People have to borrow money from a bank to buy a house and they need to prove they have the cash flow to support the mortgage payments. A state or federal government has to fund programs on a cash basis otherwise you end up like Greece.
      Where is the evidence for the sweeping assertion that the private sector has vacated training and apprenticeship schemes?

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    2. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      More disingenuous argument, Ken. State and Federal Governments do things for the community as public goods. Sometimes it is necessary to begin to do things before financing from taxation is at a suitable level. Unless, of course, you want to argue that governments collect revenue and do nothing with it until they have enough to build a new road or a new school or a new hospital - but probably not all three. And don't pull the Greece swifty, that was as much about people not paying taxes as about funding from borrowings.

      I believe that ACCI, AIG and the BCA have all produced reports over the past decade or so showing that training and apprenticeships in the private sector have declined: they usually blame it on inadequate funding by governments. You know the adage: socialize the costs (apprentices and skilled migrants) and privatize the profits ($).

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  11. Erika Borkoles

    Exercise and Health Psychologist at Victoria University

    My comment is general, and not particular to this article. As an educator, I feel very strongly about raising educational status of all citizens, not just a selected few. To date any national and international health statistics always places those with poorer educational backgrounds and low SES status to have the worth health status and quality of life.

    I've only been working here in Australia for the past two years, but I acquired a fairly good understanding of the educational system.

    Although…

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    1. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Erika Borkoles

      Erika,

      I agree that more should be done to bolster apprenticeships and the TAFE sector. However, governments prefer to ignore this sector because of its size, in spite of its importance. They concentrate on primary and secondary education because of the numbers involved - and this is understandable.

      Much of the malaise has arisen because of the universal boost given to universities both in funding over many years, mainly in the allowance to begin courses which are easy to get into but ultimately…

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  12. John Q Citizen, Aussie

    Administrator

    The only way is down, it's cheaper, better for the bottom line. A very telling article and shows up what's wrong with these country these days.

    The vocational sector is plagued with sloppy Training Providers with eyes on a fast buck and questionable qualifications. Rapid RPL and trainers who maybe up to speed or threatened with dismissal if they don't tow the company line.

    The sad fact is its happening, arguing about it does nothing. The right want a balanced budget everything is fair game. De-skilling this country will achieve nothing positive!

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Q Citizen, Aussie

      The privatisation of all education and training has been in process since the eighties under Liberal and Labor governments, state and federal. the cuts to TAFE courses and rise of private RTOs (some of dubious quality and run for profits only) are at odds with nearly all the business, labourforce and educational policy research over the decades. Today's push is just another reaction to progressive reports such as Gonski and Bradley.

      Change will only occur when business and employer groups like VECCI, BHERT finally see the value of supporting state-funded vocational training and education and adequately funded (Federal) higher education institutions and courses.

      Privatisation is not a one-size fits all panacea.

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  13. Michael Leonard Furtado

    Doctor at University of Queensland

    Quite a polarised debate with little evidence of progress while (no pun intended) Rome burns. Perchance Darcy Moore points to a way out of this in his blog today, which reads as follows:

    "Quite clearly, the Australians responsible for the big picture direction of education in our country are not working together and our adversarial political system is costing us dearly. Many educators are finding it difficult to believe that the best interests of students are the prime consideration in the decisions…

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      I agree 100% that discussions such as these deteriorate far too quickly into naming and blaming. I believe that two sides of any issue must come to the table for workable solutions to be found. I for one want to see Gonski implemented (and indeed the Henry Tax Review) as well as the Bradley Report. I am sick and tired of all governments commissioning expert reports and not acting upon their findings when the time comes to budget the necessary expenditure.
      Money can be found rapidly when a seemingly expedient political issue emerges, but not for long-term planning and national priority spending. If we need to float the NBN on the market to pay for the reforms to our Health, Education and Transport infrastructure then let's do it. What ever it takes to get the progressive policies implemented.

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  14. Dave Smith

    Energy Consultant

    David,

    Keynesian theory proposes running a budget deficit when an economy is in recession, not permanently. I don't think the States you refer to are in recession, currently or for the foreseeable future.

    Indeed, given the constraint of long-term budget balancing, running deficits during recessions implies the need to run surpluses at other times.

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