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From Gonski to gone to Gonski again: school funding future remains uncertain

It seems we’re in Gonski groundhog day. The repeated backflips and policy position switches from the Abbott government – only three months into its term – have been astounding. After announcing last week…

It’s not too often you see a backflip on a backflip, but education minister Christopher Pyne has managed it. AAP/Stefan Postles

It seems we’re in Gonski groundhog day. The repeated backflips and policy position switches from the Abbott government – only three months into its term – have been astounding.

After announcing last week they would dump the so-called Gonski model and the former government’s deals with the states, this latest announcement sees three new states sign up and the government honouring the other state deals again.

But the government is only committing to four years of these agreements, not the original six promised by the Gillard government – leaving the states missing around 70% of the funding they were first promised.

The precious little policy detail available and rhetorical back and forth still leaves much uncertainty about the future of schools funding. But in this debacle, the real aims of the Gonski review’s recommendations have been forgotten.

Forgetting Gonski

For six years the Coalition has repeatedly told us that the Howard government’s model for school funding was working.

They said the schools were getting the money they needed, and education minister Christopher Pyne even recently claimed that he believed there was no equity problem to address in Australian education.

This made the government’s school funding reforms – which saw a fairer funding system based on need based on David Gonski’s review – unnecessary.

Now the coalition says it will go through with the Gonski model but it will strip the “command and control” aspect of the Australian Education Act – the legislation underpinning the reforms. These were always a major roadblock for Queensland, Northern Territory and West Australian in signing up to the Labor scheme.

This simply gave federal oversight of tax-payer contributed funds. In fact, it is exactly the stronger governance and accountability that the Gonski Review originally recommended.

In this latest announcement, Pyne and prime minister Tony Abbott have also dropped the requirement that the states co-contribute funds – another key plank of the Gonski reforms. This leaves the newly signed up states to take as much as they like out of school funding while the commonwealth pours money in.

Over the last few years, most states have ripped money out of public education, to the tune of billions of dollars. The fact that the co-contribution requirement has gone will mean more state funding could go, leaving state schools, that have the most disadvantaged students, worse off.

Command and control

Pyne and Abbott both repeatedly said they don’t want to interfere with how states run their schools. But this sits oddly with another part of their electoral program.

Abbott went to the election with his Real Solutions booklet as his core political platform. Its “Delivering better education” policy seeks to encourage “state schools to choose to become independent schools, providing simpler budgeting and resources allocation and more autonomy in decision making”.

The rationale to justify the drive for more school autonomy is driven by a misguided belief that it improves student results.

Victoria, which led the world in increasing autonomy, has not performed above New South Wales, which was until recently the most centralised.

The funding argument

In anticipation of further falls in Australia’s performance in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results - due out tonight - Pyne has once again reiterated the furphy that while education funding has increased 44% in the last decade, education standards have declined.

He argues that resources are not the issue but teacher quality, principal autonomy and parental engagement.

This nonsensical figure, estimated by Ben Jensen of the Grattan Institute, has been used by politicians of all sides. But the facts are that apart from the 2008-09 spending that helped save Australia’s economy from meltdown, according to World Bank figures, Australia’s spend on education as a proportion of GDP has declined from 4.9% in 1999 to 4.4% in 2011.

Figures also show that only 71% of Australian government spending goes to public schools. The majority of the increase in government school funding over the past decade has gone to private schools. Since 2010, more than A$5 billion has been removed from public education in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Significantly, Commonwealth funding for non-government schools rose from around $3.50 for each dollar spent on public schools, to around $5 per dollar since 1997. In 2009, the Commonwealth provided 74% of all government net recurrent funding for the Catholic sector and 73% in the independent sector. Canberra now gives more money to private schools than it does to universities: more than $36 billion in federal funds has gone to non-government schools in the period 2009-2013.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” – this has been the Liberal Party mantra since the Gonski review commenced. Abbott and Pyne are ideologically wedded to increasing funding for independent schools as their priority, as part of their “school choice” program. We also know that they fundamentally dislike the Gonski model and don’t see any problem in the inequitable school funding model we have at the moment.

They are now faced with the dilemma of having to stick to some form of the “Gonski-lite” program of the previous government for at least the next four years and through at least one election. It’s clear, they’ve changed their position for political expediency. But this latest announcement doesn’t mean their problems have gone away, they are now only delayed.

Join the conversation

120 Comments sorted by

  1. John West

    logged in via email @outlook.com

    Excellent summary. Thanks.

    Equal funding for each school child. That to my mind was the main aim of Gonski. True.

    Having read this article I would suggest, as an eye opener, how the same issue can be misrepresented and vital points omitted.

    The article in question.:

    https://theconversation.com/abbott-gonski-backflip-puts-the-money-back-21018#comments

    It looks to me that professionally written articles like this one do not seem to get the attention they deserve. Controversial gossip columnists however attract attention. Pity!

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    1. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to John West

      That is a falsity, it should be equal funding for equal rules. If privately funded schools want access to public funds they should be required under law to adhere to public school rules.
      This is what forced the Liberals to change their mind and change in the bounds of discussion.
      For privately funded schools to get public funds they should by law adhere to the following;
      Take all students from within their catchment area.
      Not exclude any student based upon, race, religion, culture, wealth or…

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    2. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Re point two or your list Robert it seems the enemy is within. The first thing you need to lobby for is the dismantling of the government selective school system, which discriminates on the basis of intelligence. Why should my taxpayer dollars go to such an inequitable system?

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    3. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Yes RTB, excellent. Freedom of Choice means being free to REFUSE Public Funding and then doing whatever you wish in YOUR own Private School.

      Fascinating concept. I wonder if that will catch on in Libertarian Tea Party Land of the extremists inside the LNP (not all are crazy imho) spin zone and rampant lies over Education Ideologue Policy by Fanatics and Extremists.

      Egalitarianism and Means Testing is the foundation of our Australian ethics, culture and social equity social security system and freedom for all. Been like that since the 19th Century. No need to dump that now just because the LNP won an election by default because Labor was sent to the naughty corner.

      LNP did not win .. Labor lost it after losing the plot. The LNP have started their term by losing the plot. Does not augur well for them. <smile>

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    4. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      "Why should my taxpayer dollars go to such an inequitable system?"

      Your taxpayer dollars DO go to an inequitable system. It's called taxpayer grants to non-government fee-paying schools.

      What you are referring to, though, WOULD be inequitable if it contributed to the stratification of society. However, there is evidence to suggest that specialisation within state systems can lift the standards of comprehensive schools. It does need to be done carefully, though, as ghettos can be created ...

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  2. Erica Jolly

    Writer about education

    Thank you for the clear detail given about the past funding as against the present and for recognising that the principle of the Gonski Report, commitment to funding by states and territories, to open accountability and to the needs-basis that identifies the different needs in different schools so that those most in need receive the support they must have to make progress is being undermined by letting these states WA, Queensland and NT use it as they think fit. The NT has a record of dis-empowering…

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  3. Pamela H.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Two lying lizards in blue ties. We got what we deserved for voting them in.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      I have to agree with you John.

      I don't deserve it because I didn't vote for them. You, on the other hand...........

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to John Phillip

      Talking of the sky falling in...... you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      I never worry about the sky falling in John - after all, the 'sky' is just colouration in the atmosphere caused by the the diffraction of light.

      But if you mean that I might worry about the disasters that the current government will bring down upon the country during the next 3 years, then yes, that is a cause for concern.

      I won't worry about it though - it's much more fun to poke people like you over your twists and turns attempting to explain the unexplanable, then have to change your mind a few seconds later when the government realises what a cock-up it has made.

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  4. Jack Ruffin
    Jack Ruffin is a Friend of The Conversation.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Thanks for the article it sets out the issues clearly. My view is that to preserve the inequality in our society the Conservative parties endeavour to keep the education system unequal. This preserves the privileges of the rich
    We could be more equal, other countries have more equality, but then we could be worse. There are many countries that run education systems as unequal as ours and worse.
    We should be trying to make our education system more equal in order to provide better opportunities for all our kids within a fairer society.

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  5. Kim Jenkins

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Not sure why you're using outdated World Bank stats and not the more reliable and recent 2013 OECD Education at a Glance indicators in relation to funding David. Could it be because they tell a different story?

    I advise everybody take the time to peruse this document (particularly Chapter B) and run their own 'Fact Check' on some of the figures being bandied about recently.

    http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag2013%20(eng)--FINAL%2020%20June%202013.pdf

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  6. Peter Farrell

    teaching-principal at at a small rural school

    Few issues have made me so angry as this one and my school was hardly going to get any additional funding for students with needs or adverse personal circumstances.

    Gonski and his panel came up with what I thought was a model of some finesse rather than the blunt instrument of the past. Let the money follow the individual student. This was quite an achievement really given we are talking about a whole country. Many of the big liberal states agreed and hammered out a deal with the then labor government. Being sure of my funding does make my job easier as it means I can get on with managing education rather than the dollars and cents.

    I know it was politically expedient to change their minds 'again' but I am glad the government have.

    Mr. Pyne must make the leap that now he is in government where ideology has to rub shoulders with pragmatism.

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Peter Farrell

      By the way...... it appears that the Gonski HAS gone again....

      The Sydney Morning Herald - smh.com.au
      Gonski has been expunged from the official record. Search for the name of the report on the Commonwealth Education Department website and you'll get a reply asking whether you meant “lenskyi”. http://ow.ly/rlBtC

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  7. R. Ambrose Raven

    none

    END ALL FUNDING FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS

    In planning to loot government school funds to feed the mendacity and rent-seeking of the Catholic and private school system, Christopher Pyne provided a perfect example of class warfare. His aim is above all to ensure the continuation of the enrichment of the rich following the bursting of the global bubble at whatever cost to the non-rich. But for the ferocious criticism, he would have succeeded.

    Gonski report co-author Dr Ken Boston labelled Christopher…

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    1. Michael Rogers

      Retired

      In reply to John Phillip

      No need to end all funding for private schools, just ban all fees for tuition.

      In Finland all schools are funded by the government. There are private schools such as those based around a particular religious faith but they cannot charge fees for tuition.

      Seems to work well.

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    2. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      "What possible advantage can be gained by increasing the cost of education to the government by collapsing the private sector?"

      Equality in oppertunity, not equal outcomes for everyone but equal oppertunity

      it would be a process of removing inherent class stratification

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    3. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      Tell Dr. Ken Boston to run for office, or get back in his box.

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    4. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Michael Rogers

      Michael, there is no diversity of religious faith for the Finns to worry about.

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    5. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to John Phillip

      No, after Pyne's effort at class warfare, this rent-seeking just no longer cuts it. Your hero wanted the lot. Need = government schools, not private schools.

      You want to educate your kids at a private school, you pay for it. We all pay taxes for things we don't use. Get used to it.

      It is because of the looting of government revenues by private schools that the public system isn't coping. Go and steal from some other group.

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

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      That's what I'd expect from an ideological zealot, RAR. Try some rational thought - If they educate their kids in a private school they are already paying for it TWICE. Firstly, they pay the school's fees, secondly they pay taxes to pay for education and in then they see less of those taxes get spent on their kids. It's not 'looting', it is actually subsidising the public system even further.

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    7. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Another piece of casual abuse from one of the rent-seekers; arrogant abuse so typical of that sub-species. They are brazen in their contempt for others - especially those who are helping to pay their massive subsidies for private school.

      END ALL PUBLIC FUNDING OF PRIVATE SCHOOLS!

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  8. Matthew Dornan

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Australian National University

    Thanks David for a great article.

    As someone who is unfamiliar with school funding in Australia, I was hoping you could clarify this statement:

    "Significantly, Commonwealth funding for non-government schools rose from around $3.50 for each dollar spent on public schools, to around $5 per dollar since 1997. In 2009, the Commonwealth provided 74% of all government net recurrent funding for the Catholic sector and 73% in the independent sector."

    Surely you don't mean that $5 is spent by the federal govt on non-govt schools for every $1 it spends on public schools? Is that per school? How does that relate to the earlier figure of 71% of Aust govt funding going to public schools?

    Thanks in advance for the clarification.

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    1. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Phillip

      John, the following paragraphs can be found in the report I referenced above:

      "In 2010, total net recurrent income for schools from all sources amounted to
      $41.0 billion, of which $34.1 billion was from government funding sources and $8.6 billion was from
      private sources. State and territory governments provided the significant majority (68.9 per cent) of
      total government recurrent funding for all schools.

      Government schools received the majority (72.9 per cent) of total government recurrent…

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

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      Thanks Kim. This would mean that the government (state and federal) pay $8092 towards non-government schools and $15002 for the states system. If those who want all government funding of private schools to stop get their way, I wonder how we, as a taxpaying community, will be able to pay for the resultant shift of students in to the government sector?

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    3. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to Matthew Dornan

      Matthew sorry for any confusion - hard to get it all absolutely clear - the 71% figure is for ALL gov. spending on school education- State, Territory and Federal. On the other hand only $1 in 5 spent by Federal gov is directed to public schools.

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    4. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      "Australian (Federal) Government recurrent expenditure on non-government school students (Catholic systemic and independent school students combined) was $5871 per student in 2010–11. This was almost 3.5 times the $1703 it provided per government school student."

      John Howard started this ... Pyne and Abbott are trying to extend it and create a wedge to encourage and force as many Public Schools to switch to being Private Schools on no other basis than ideology and thought bubbles by Elitists…

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    5. Matthew Dornan

      Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Australian National University

      In reply to David Zyngier

      Thanks David (and Kim),
      Impressive figures nonetheless. I find it quite incredible the Commonwealth has agreed to provide the funding promised under Gonski, but without any strings attached. As Grattan said in her article yesterday - where is the assurance of value for money?

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    6. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to David Zyngier

      Massaged figures again David.

      The largest spend per child is made by the states. Of state government funding public schools get 95%+ of government funding and privates < 5%.

      You do spin a good article though David, so predictable.

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    7. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      I think you'll find that David was highlighting the INCREASE in Commonwealth funding to non-govs, not so much the actual amount.

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    8. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to John Perry

      I know that John

      The actual amounts spent do not look as good for David's spin that's why

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    9. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      "wonder how we, as a taxpaying community, will be able to pay for the resultant shift of students in to the government sector?"

      Well it would appear that parents who are sending their children to private school are paying extra to supplement the government funding.

      So obviously, we have a group of people that are not in poverty and do not mind spending extra money on education for children.

      so.......some rich people have extra money they are throwing at education anyway.......maybe we should raise some taxes and adequately fund our public schools.

      I'm not saying thats the best idea but it would work, answers your question

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    10. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to David Zyngier

      David, the figures as you state them are meaningless. First, you need to distinguish between the very different funding of primary vs high schools, and the very different % of the public/private split between primary and high school.

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    11. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to John Perry

      John, no David's quoted figures are meaningless. If you want to quote in changes in funding, you need to relate it to changes in enrolments. In other words, you need to look at funding per student, and then at per level of schooling - primary v secondary - for example. WHY is the entire Australian Education sector incapable of dealing with these very basic quantitative issues? They have not improved one bit since the 1990s.

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

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      So RAR, you try to make appoint using numbers yet you can't provide a per capita comparison of state and federal funding for private vs state school sectors. Another shift in the goal posts by an ill informed ideologue. Try some honesty, RAR. Maybe ask someone who doesn't need to take off their shoes and socks to count to 20.

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    13. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      "I think most of them pay enough taxes as it is. " - as the great lebowski would say "That's, like, your opinion man"

      So you think people that can afford private schools are taxed enough - I disagree

      two opinions, neither justified

      Also, it is a bit extreme isn't John, to state that increasing taxes is equvilant with Soviet Style Socialism? seems like your jumping a bridge or two their mate.

      Like if I said, not raising taxes is leading us down a path to facist, monarchal rule - it would seem I have a screw or two loose, but when you do the same thing - no, no, that's reasonable

      see how easy and unproductive it is to make crazy assertions

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    14. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      John if you are going to accuse someone of zealotry

      you might want to hold off on calling an tax rise soviet style socialism

      just an idea

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    15. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      "Another shift in the goal posts by an ill informed ideologue"

      John john john, projection in the extreme

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

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael I was attempting to head off the usual whine that there a rich people who avoid taxes. What I disagree with is the notion that, because you send your kid to a private school, they should receive LESS per capita than a kid who goes to a state school.
      I agree with your comment re crazy assertions - RAR is making heaps of them.

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

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Not at all, Michael. RAR has shifted the goal posts by NOT referring to the comparative expenditure of both state and federal governments on the private vs public systems. He was the one attacking my figures and yet failed to provide alternatives. Read the whole thread.

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    18. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      Yeah, I have heard this kind of rhetoric far too much in the last 5 or so years.

      Especially from US Politics where anything that the supposed left side of politics does is communist, soviet, stalinism, socialist, etc

      I find it kind of funny coming from Americans but when I hear the same thing in Australia I cringe everytime, mainly because people do not understand what socialism is and the difference between living in a social democratic country (Aus) and a socialist state

      Like as an example…

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    19. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Phillip

      I think not being a hypocrite is a novel idea that you should explore.

      Lets not call others Zealots whilst calling any adjustment to tax rates soviet style socialism - not being a hypocrite might suit you

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

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Michael Shand

      It's a good example, Michael. I did a bit of reading around the GFC and was particularly incensed by the socialisation of risk and privatisation of profit that those corporations who were deemed 'too big to fail' were able to achieve. It was sickening.
      I do agree with the state ownership of certain 'enterprises' or 'services', I think, in this case, the rhetoric surrounding the funding of state/private schools has got in the way of the facts.

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    21. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael, you seem completely unaware that social democracy is still plain old Socialism, based on Marxism. It just rejected the revolutionary violent methods of getting there.

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    22. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Really? Having say, a National Health Service is Marxism? England is now under the rule of Marxism?

      What about the idea of everyone paying tax to pay for roads - marxism? really? Marx was the first to come up with this?

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  9. David Pearn

    Follower

    It's one thing to be an ideologue but to amply demonstrate your loud mouth incompetence as federal education minister is a national embarrassment .

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  10. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    Talk about egg on face- but no doubt Pyne will be his usual cocky self.Crowing that the ALP's strategy for question time today (Tuesday) has now been trashed is about as childish as the "adults" can get.

    Worse will Pyne defend his statements that extra money has not resulted in better education - look at the catholic sector - best performers in tests and lowest amount of money spent on the sector said Pyne.

    No wonder the NSW govt was furious about the return to sectarian conflict that the Gonski model pretty well resolved.

    And the removal of the Gonski report from govt websites is outrageous when you remember the fulminations about attacking free speech the then Opposition hurled when mechanisms to get journalists to uphold their code of ethics were mooted by the Gillard govt - clumsily ,yes, but not wrong in intent and draft.

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  11. C Allan

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    This is an excellent article which highlights some of the key issues.

    It appears Abbott and Pyne are making a huge deal about equitable funding on a state by state basis. What the are hiding is the lack of needs based, equitable funding between public and private schools.

    They are weaving advantages for the already privileged sector into the very fabric of this country. Doing this with our children really locks in the unequal expectations for future generations.

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    1. David Pearn

      Follower

      In reply to C Allan

      They seem to want a LESS egalitarian society and instead want to be the only nation hell bent on creating a class based one from an economy where the gap between the poor and wealthy continues to grow wider every year.
      Amazingly this trend seems to be accepted by the voters.

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    2. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to David Pearn

      Conservatives always depend on the poorly educated acting against their own self interest. It is the only way they can make up the numbers.

      It is impossible for a majority of voters to be on the wealthier side, so the approach is to weaken public education and herd enough of the electorate into conditioned obedience and ignorance.

      With commercial media on side, it is easy to dog-whistle these poor souls on social issues alone.

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  12. John Perry

    Teacher

    The private school cheerleaders are out in force today. Considering that their theoretical "savings" through privatising education could be demonstrated by the movement from public to private over the last 20 years, resulting in a greater of the former, I wonder if they could point to exactly where those savings have been achieved?

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    1. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Perry

      Dear John.
      Apologies for being so blunt, but quite frankly, the evidence has been laid out - you're a teacher - you do the math.

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    2. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      "evidence"?

      There has been a shift, mostly over the Howard years, of the ratio of private:public enrolments, in favour of the private system.

      According to the private school cheerleaders, their THEORY is that this should result in savings to the taxpayer, after adjustments.

      However, this shift did NOT result in a savings to the taxpayer. The taxpayer is now paying MORE for education, BECAUSE of this shift to private. THIS is actual "evidence", not "theory" as espoused by the private school lobby.

      If the private school cheerleaders can find in those figures that I have referred to that there HAS in fact been a savings to the taxpayer, I'd be happy to read those. But the facts say otherwise.

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    3. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Perry

      Sorry John, six year old biased data just doesn't cut it. I think the Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2011, the 2013 OECD Education at a Glance and the Parliamentary Report on Education (2011) are much more credible sources of information, don't you?

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    4. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to John Perry

      Cost of educating a child in the public system $13,500 per year

      Average cost of government grants per child in the private system $6,000 per year

      Cost saving to the taxpayer for every child kept in a private school $7,500 per year

      Reason: The difference ($7,500 per year +) is paid by the parents who would not be paying such an amount if their kids were educated in a public school.

      These are the facts John. It is the private funds that are lost to the system if we go for a public only system. You do not seem willing to acknowledge this. The private funds are lost and so the overall burden on the taxpayer is greater as a result.

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    5. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      ..and that doesn't include capital works, of which are over 80% funded by privately funded.

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    6. David Pearn

      Follower

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Why do I get the impression that conservative governments see education as a financial burden as opposed to an investment in future productivity not to mention happiness?
      Tax credits in the form of a voucher system will be 'sold' as a 'just' way of compensating those who demonstrate their concern for their child's future, but, in doing so, continue the desired process of running down the state school system cynically reinforcing the saying 'saving for your child's education'. (As if D.O.G.s don't care)
      It's insidious, undermining the egalitarian nature that once used to exist.......or is that a fiction also?

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    7. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      "the Parliamentary Report on Education ... [a] much more credible [source] of information ..."

      Sorry? What's that? Empirical research versus a report from those who are in thrall to the private school lobbyists, justifying their expenditure on non-government schools? I think I know the answer to that one, Kim.

      Nice to see how you're ducking the question of where the savings actually are, considering I have pointed out to you on several occasions that you have an opportunity to prove your "private schools save us money" theory in a real-world setting.

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    8. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Pearn

      In no way am I running down the state system. I simply believe all children are entitled to some government funding for their education, with extra on the basis of need, as per the Gonski model. As far as the numbers, well, they speak for themselves.

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    9. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      The private funds are "lost"?! What, they just vaporise?!?

      Imagine how those private funds you speak of could be used if they weren't sucked up by those "non-profit" (ha ha) institutions that provide an overpriced service that the public sector can provide (with equal results) for a third or even a quarter of the cost! Motivated families will definitely find a use for that money.

      Who knows - it might even make its way back into the broader economy and benefit ALL of us!

      Thanks for bringing that up, Ken. It's a good point.

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    10. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to John Perry

      No John, those parents in private schools just keep their money in the bank and take the free education all paid for by the taxpayer at the rate of $13,500 per child per year.

      And you are right those funds will be spent on other things but it will not be education. That is the point they are lost to the education sector which the taxpayer will then have to make up.

      Remember that the more private funds that are kept in the system the further the dollars that do get to public schools will go. Lose the private funds and there is less to go around.

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    11. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      So you are saying we can safely increase taxes on certain income brackets to fund education as they are paying this now anyway?

      You say private school parents have to subsidise it to the cost of $7,500 - so we can tax that money then right and then fund all the schools properly

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    12. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      "those parents in private schools just keep their money in the bank"

      Pfft. Yeah, right.

      "and take the free education all paid for by the taxpayer at the rate of $13,500 per child per year"

      ANOTHER REASON WE SHOULD INCREASE TAXES ON THEM!

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    13. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Perry

      Here's an idea: How about we means test parents in the public system and make them pay fees accordingly? They do it with healthcare. You care enough about public education to support that don't you?

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    14. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      I have NO problem with that idea as a good idea. It needs more work to show how such a system would be integrated into the whole system and where other adjustments need to be made. and show that it can work on an economical cost effective basis for the REAL benefit of the children IN school. That's supposed to be the end focus... not spin nor the party ideological politics of it

      Can we do the same with Medicare as well please? Kerry packer never had private health care and still he complained about the extra personal income tax levy applied for not having it. :-/

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    15. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      "the evidence has been laid out - you're a teacher - you do the math."
      I do not know why, but they simply can't.

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    16. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      In fact Kim, if one is going to apply means testing to public schools, then equally means testing should be applied to the funding to private schools on the exact same basis.

      Not by looking at nor funding the school as whole, but instead applied on each individual child and thus their parents income. The means testing should be for both federal and state funding too. It should start to kick in at avg weekly earnings and providing zero funding once one gets to $150K combined income imho.

      This…

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    17. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Plus the actual net assets of a school should be considered. One with 25 acres of sports fields and $5 million worth of sporting equipment pools and basketball courts shouldn't be getting more $ annually than one down the road that has no sports ground and only $20K of sports equipment .... private or public irrelevant.

      and yes charitable donations to a school counts .. the more they get that way the less the Govt should be funding them overall. Why? because they just do not need it .. and in…

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    18. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sure, means testing parents in the private sector would be fair... If they didn't receive HALF the funding of a government school kid, like they do now. And if the goverment stopped paying private school kids HALF what they pay for a government school child and instead, paid the same, they would need yours means tested funds even more because they'd be broke!

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    19. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      I honestly do not see the problem with private schools only receiving half, or 2/3 or 1/3 or 1/4 of the funding of a public school per child.
      Kim the day that Public schools have the same % of indoor heated swimming pools that the Private schools have, you may have a basis for such an argument.

      When Public school principles and teachers have the same educational facilities and staff rooms, carpets, air cond, oil paintings, computers, audio visual, manicured sports grounds, $millions in rowing…

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    20. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      I agree

      What scrutiny of David Z figures and the way in which he represents them is done by the editors?

      I wonder

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    21. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Like the independent sector said in their official statement last week, no private school wants to receive more money at the expense of the public system. That's why they all agreed to Gonski (well, in my state anyway). I was making the point with regards to means testing.

      With regard to the PISA results, you only have to look to the US (and a significant body of research) to see that simply throwing money at education does not improve results. What does is highly skilled teachers (masters degrees preferable) and less bureaucracy so principals can get rid of the dross more easily (like they can in the private system) and tailor the learning to fit a particular cohort.

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    22. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Ken, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, as I am not privy to how TC articles are commissioned, edited, and produced. But a small number of the same issues keep repeating themselves, overwhelmingly to do with misrepresentations of evidence linked to, or the author clearly haven't given the evidence a moment's reflection, let alone critical reflection.

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    23. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Perry

      John, I cited three reports. Did you read the other two?

      Unfortunately I can't reproduce the reports in totality in the comments section.
      As I said previously, the proof is in the numbers.
      On behalf of your students, I really do worry about your powers of observation and your ability to understand basic mathematical calculations.

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    24. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      My view is that no body is "simply throwing money at education" That's a furphy imho. Gonski is in fact the first finely targeted system evry used in Aistralia that i know of. It brings both the states and the feds into a joint venture that is highly managed to solve real problems, That isn't "simply throwing money at education".

      The USA should never be used for a yardstick on any subject. They are simply mad and their entire education system is inefficient and driven by irrationality not logic…

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    25. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      COPY PASTE and prove this Claim Andy.

      If it is so obvious it should be easy to prove.

      Just saying it, means nothing.

      That's why they allow comments. If something in an article is factually wrong or a misrepresentation, and you think you know it is, then copy paste and prove it with specific details that any one could recognise wiht a grade 10 education.

      So far all you do is moan about .. toss in a url maybe, make a wild claim but then never spell it out and never back it up. Back it up mate. Not that hard to do. cheers

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    26. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      To be honest Sean, the only problem I have at the moment is understanding your responses, which are a rather befuddled mix of ideologies and conspiracy theories with a bit of outdated data thrown in for good measure. Can we just stick to clear, concise, up to date, widely accepted data from credible sources please?

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    27. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      Short reply v2.0 as i said before, I am all for Means Testing at both independent/private and public schools. Govt funds should not be wasted on those who can actually afford it until such times as everyone has a level playing field in regards education resources and are treated with equity based upon an egalitarian system with special needs students accounted for first.

      Anyone with the means must have the right to do the best for their own children even if means sending them to Eton. But that…

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    28. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      Well sorry about that. I'm doing my best.

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    29. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      The figures I provide are from the ABS, World Bank and OECD. They are fact checked and accurate. Of course you may choose not to like the facts - or may wish to re-interpret them to suit your own ideological persuasion. That is your democratic right.

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    30. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      Plus Kim, I do not deal in conspiracy theories. If that's what you see, your interpretation or your eyes are faulty. Numbers and % never tell the whole truth. To ignore the reality on the ground, to not see apples being compared to rivets on a bridge is how people get manipulated by numbers.

      If you believe that labeling 'ideological beliefs' for what they are, not grounded in truth and facts and reality, then may god help you. If you cannot see the long term evidence of playing to one's political…

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    31. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      "As I said previously, the proof is in the numbers"

      All I read in the OECD report was numbers. Nothing about discretionary spending, and nothing about the return on investment in the different sectors. THAT is what my concern is.

      The numbers you have provided do not include government capital grants (yes, outside BER, they do exist), nor the cost to public infrastructure to provide examination materials and resources for VCE, bus subsidies, crossing supervisors and the like. Your numbers do…

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    32. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to John Perry

      John absolutely correct about numbers only telling a partial story - there is so much else as you allude to - that makes a difference.

      Transparency is what Gonski Review recommended. As does the revised MySchool website provides a bit more detail about these issues. But of course the private schools pick and choose what t reveal while public schools are compelled to reveal all.

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    33. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Zyngier

      David,
      The following information is a direct cut and paste from the most recent OECD Education at a Glance 2013 report , the ABS and the World Bank (which, by, the way, is hardly the 'propaganda' that Sean alludes to). I have not 're-interpreted' them in any way and am happy to provide the direct links if necessary:

      "GDP decreased between 2008 and 2009 in most of the 30 countries with available data (except Australia, Korea, Israel, New Zealand and Poland)". Meanwhile, public expenditure on…

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    34. David Pearn

      Follower

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      The conservatives like to refer to the amount of money they claim was wasted on education with such poor results.
      Remind me, just how did the LNP deal with the threat of massive unemployment resulting from the GFC?
      Oh, that's right, they didn't because they enjoyed the 'good times' but have the hide, with media connivance, to ignore this minor fact.
      The supposed 'waste' was an unemployment initiative and only after the ALP had successfully managed that crisis did they start on the long obstructed role resulting in Gonski reform.
      How the media keep ignoring such fundamental facts, does them nothing to improve their standing either.
      Journalists seem to act like a group think scared mob of sheep.
      What happened to 'clear thinking'?

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    35. Kim Jenkins

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean,

      Thanks for the sentiment, but I don't need God's help because, well, he doesn't exist. But I digress...

      Again, I urge you to read the reports, prepared by independent, world recognised sources like the OECD, World Bank and the ABS, who base their studies on integrity not ideology.

      You say that numbers never tell the whole truth. If that is the case then we must also ignore the 'facts' set out by the author. He is an academic, he deals in numbers and percentages, and in my opinion, academic integrity is of the utmost importance.

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    36. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      And from 1996 to 2012 Australia's GDP increased close enough to 300% .... that's a fact, please do not ignore it. Population nor school students did not treble. Federal Govt Budget more than trebled in that same time period. What's your main point Kim?

      RE: From 2008–09 to 2009–10, there was a 63% increase in Commonwealth government spending on education. Education expenditure at the state, territory and local government level increased by 13%, while multi-jurisdictional expenses grew by 4…

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    37. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Zyngier

      very grateful for your kind words David. thank you very much too!. Keep it up, cheers

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    38. David Zyngier

      Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education at Monash University

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      Kim if I have erred then I am happy to be corrected. I agree that the WB records 2009 as 5.1% of GDP- that was the beginning of the BER - as you state above from the ABS - that one of had nothing to with educaiton but keeping the economy afloat. These are some more figures from the World Bank that are very telling:

      PUBLIC SPENDING ON EDUCATION; TOTAL (% OF GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE) IN AUSTRALIA

      The Public spending on education; total (% of government expenditure) in Australia was reported at…

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    39. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Kim Jenkins

      RE "He is an academic, he deals in numbers and percentages, and in my opinion, academic integrity is of the utmost importance."

      I agree. So if you have issues about his accuracy and integrity then spell it out plain as day, copy and paste quotes from where ever you choose with url / page refs, and prove your case by backing up exactly where his errors of fact are and use the 'credible' sources you claim are better.

      And yes, numbers never tell the whole truth. I don't just say it, the world…

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    40. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to John Perry

      "There has been a shift, mostly over the Howard years, of the ratio of private:public enrolments, in favour of the private system"
      John, this started during the 1980s Hawkeating years. Hardly surprising when all your own kids are at Canberra Grammar.

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  13. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    Thank you for the article, you said it well. More simply, imho, it all comes down to this:
    Exploring the Psychology of Wealth - 'Pernicious' Effects of Income Inequality
    "Higher social class predicts increased unethical behaviour" PNAS approved January 26, 2012 Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. Keywords: socioeconomic status immoral action ethical judgment self-interest
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/02/21/1118373109

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  14. Venise Alstergren
    Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

    photographer, blogger.

    ""Abbott and Pyne are ideologically wedded to increasing funding for independent schools as their priority, as part of their “school choice” program."" What else would you expect from two right wing Catholic parliamentarians? Catholic schools always seem to get the cream off the top of the milk. Sorry, cliché. Especially when the LNP are in power.

    When Christopher Pyne delivered the Gonski rebuttal he had the sort of smirk on his face commonly to be found in Hollywood's Tits and Toga Movies of the 1950's when on screen citizens viewing 'Jesus, his mum, , and/or the Lord High Executioner him/herself, gave an understanding but superior smile, the maximum of condescension and the minimum amount of humility.

    To think this arrogant little man has high aspirations of becoming a future PM is truly alarming.

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