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Education budget can’t shake the Gonski ghost

The 2015 budget has confirmed the Coalition’s “Gonski-lite” school funding model. AAP/Jenny Evans

The ghost of the Gonski school funding reforms has haunted the Coalition since 2013 when it resolved not to fund the final two years of the six-year funding model proposed by Labor.

Whether we agree or not with the principles or efficacy of the Gonski model, it is clear the reform has been a painful thorn in the side of the Coalition and a political liability for federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

The sheer diversity of political actors and organisations united in the fight for the “missing billions” has seen the reform take on epic proportions. Rightly or wrongly, Gonski has become a potent symbol in the politics of class and in debates over the future of public education.

Despite this, the Coalition government has remained steadfast in its position and the 2015 budget confirms the final two years of Gonski will remain unfunded. Gonski is, it seems, gone.

There are, however, some new splashes of money and some fresh cuts in this year’s budget, which together have consequences for Australian schools. Here are the highlights:

The 2015 budget is a mixed bag for schools, with both carrots and sticks offered to the education bureaucracy. Ultimately, however, these minor “budget tinkerings” pale in comparison to the Gonski shadow.

Read more of The Conversation’s Federal Budget 2015 coverage.

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