Thursday, 15 August 2019

Good point

Serious question. If the Catholic Church refuses to obey the law & report child rapists,how can it possibly be allowed to run schools?

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

A view from a Finnish expert

Teachers and principals are advanced professionals akin to their peers in Finland, Singapore, or any other country. 

But, as I have noticed, and what was well reported in recent ABC reportage, this world-class educational excellence is very unevenly distributed around this country and its communities.

Frankly speaking, "Rich school, poor school: Australia's great education divide" is a depressing read. 

Having world-class schools is not the same as having a high-performing school system. 

David Gonski's Review Panel in its 2011 report got it to the point: 

"Funding for schooling must not be seen simply as a financial matter. Rather, it is about investing to strengthen and secure Australia's future. Investment and high expectations must go hand in hand. Every school must be appropriately resourced to support every child and every teacher must expect the most from every child." 

In other words, we need to fix current inequalities in and out of schools before educational excellence can truly be achieved.

It is that simple. The evidence is clear and so should be the road ahead.

Pasi Sahlberg is professor of educational policy and deputy director at the Gonski Institute for Education in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Fucking hell!

The richest 1% of schools spent $3 billion. The poorest 50% spent $2.6 billion combined.
The poorest 50% of schools teach nearly five times as many students.


An ABC News investigation has revealed for the first time the gaping divide that separates the capital expenditure of Australia’s richest and poorest schools. 

It is based on school finance figures from the My School website — a dataset so tightly held that in the decade since its creation, it has only been released to a handful of researchers under strict conditions. Independently compiled by ABC News, it provides a more detailed picture of school income and expenditure than any publicly available data. 

The investigation, which encompasses more than 8,500 schools teaching 96 per cent of students, reveals:

“Certainly the public investment in private schools, and the public investment in the wealthiest schools, is a factor,” she said.

“They have that security of their operating costs being heavily subsidised — or, for some schools, completely covered — so they can use other money for their building projects.”

Sheidow Park Primary School spent $25,005 over the five-year period. It received no capital funding from government.

“The school has never had lots of money and principals have had to be very careful with what they’ve done,” Ms Gorman says.

  • Half of the $22 billion spent on capital projects in Australian schools between 2013 and 2017 was spent in just 10 per cent of schools
  • These schools teach fewer than 30 per cent of students and are the country’s richest, ranked by average annual income from all sources (federal and state government funding, fees and other private funding) over the five-year period. 
  • They also reaped 28 per cent (or $2.4 billion) of the $8.6 billion in capital spending funded by government. 

University of Sydney associate professor Helen Proctor described the figures as “extraordinary”.

Sheidow Park Primary is a public school 20km south of Adelaide. Its sits among the poorest 20 per cent of schools on the income ladder. 

Despite soaring enrolments — student numbers have nearly doubled since 2013 — the last major capital project at Sheidow Park was a gymnasium completed in 2011 as part of the Rudd government’s school building program, known as Building the Education Revolution.

“At the end of the year, when we walk around the school, it’s not: ‘This needs fixing, so we’ll fix it’. It’s always… ‘What’s the worst of the worst?’” Ms Gorman says.

“It’s tricky because you don’t want to be the poor neighbour down the road. You want to put your best foot forward… But I guess it’s the inequity that annoys me the most.”

You don’t have to look far to find that inequity. About half an hour’s drive north is Saint Ignatius’ College in Athelstone, a Catholic school among the richest 10 per cent in Australia. It spent just over $30 million on capital projects (including $124,000 from the federal government) in the same period Sheidow Park spent $25,005. 

Enrolments at Saint Ignatius’ shrunk by roughly five per cent over that period.

Capital funding: A complex system

Capital funding is considered separate to recurrent funding, which covers the ongoing costs of running a school. Recurrent funding cannot be spent on capital projects.

Part of the problem with the current system, according to critics, is that private schools have two public sources of capital funding — the Commonwealth and the states — whereas public schools only receive capital funding from state governments.

So far in 2019, the Commonwealth Capital Grants Program has allocated more than $146 million to fewer than 140 non-government schools. According to the Federal Government, the CGP is “to improve the infrastructure in [non-government] schools that do not have enough capital resources.”

However, the Australian Education Union has previously drawn attention to projects in wealthy private schools that do not appear to meet this criteria.

It is calling on the Federal Government to establish a Commonwealth capital fund for public schools, in line with the recommendations of the 2012 Gonski review.

But while the debate over capital grants rages, numerous education researchers point to a far larger source of public money as the real problem. 

Are taxpayers funds making the system more unequal?

Some education experts believe increased public funding has allowed many private schools to amass funds for capital expenditure from private sources.

“I’m not at all surprised to see some well-off private schools at the top of the list for capital spend. Parents and others are of course welcome to fundraise for the schools they support,” said the Grattan Institute’s school education program director Peter Goss. 

“But every one of those schools also receives substantial recurrent funding from the Australian Government and it’s legitimate to ask whether taxpayer funding is contributing to making our education system even more unequal.”

Adrian Piccoli, director of UNSW’s Gonski Institute for Education and NSW education minister from 2011 until 2017, said the way government funding was distributed to private schools meant “there is the ability to shift money from recurrent to capital”.

“I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that happens… It’s very hard — and I say this as a former minister — to see what non-government schools spend their money on,” he said.

“I was always astounded that we [the NSW government] gave the Catholic system $800 million a year and, basically, they filled out a one-page form to verify that they’d spent the money appropriately.”


Sunday, 11 August 2019

Choice....sure.

Once upon a time, Sydney families did not angst about where to send their children to school. If they wanted public education, they chose the local one.

But due to policy shifts over the past few decades, parents now feel they have a right to choose their child's school. Some base their choice on NAPLAN results, some base it on a school's reputation, some base it on the socio-economic status of its students.

Some base it on practical considerations, too. Families might choose a school that's on their way to work, or close to grandma, or has subject offerings that appeal to their child, like a dance program or a school newspaper.

Choice is good for the families that know how to exercise it, but bad for the system.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Teachers can't do it all

You are probably familiar with the concept of the “superstar teacher,” particularly since it is perpetuated in popular culture through movies like the classic Edward James Olmos film “Stand and Deliver” and 2012’s “Won’t Back Down.” The idea is that with the right teacher – a committed, bright, in-tune, talented teacher – P-12 problems like the achievement gap and high dropout rates will cease to exist. If only every student had a standout teacher like the ones portrayed in these shows, the very P-12 system as we know it would be transformed for the better.

I do believe in the power of teachers, both positive and negative, on their students. I train educators for a living and have written books about following “the calling” to become a teacher. I do think that teachers make a difference – but I cannot put all of my faith in these “superstar teachers” to reform the education system the way that is truly needed, and here’s why:

  1. There are not enough superstars for the schools that need them. The schools that desperately need some sort of superstar saviors are often unable to attract them. In a study on urban schools and poverty released by the National Center for Education Statistics, urban administrators said that they had difficulty attracting and retaining high-quality teachers.
  2. Teachers are normally only temporary fixtures at a school. Teachers come and go, moving from school to school or on to different careers. In their early years of teaching and when nearing retirement, they have a particularly high attrition rate. Location of teaching position definitely impacts mobility and attrition rates. Most studies show that suburban and rural school districts have lower attrition rates than urban districts.
  3. Poverty is a problem that teachers cannot fix. Schools with higher percentages of students living in poverty had fewer resources available for teaching. They often have a persistent achievement gap and lower standardized test scores. Counting on teachers to counterbalance these structural issues by themselves is a recipe for disaster.
  4. Parents need to become more involved. When parents get involved with their children’s education, they tend to succeed academically and perform better on exams. They miss fewer school days and tend to be more conscientious about completing school-related work outside of school. Conversely, children, whose families are not as involved in their school experiences, are often unable to compete academically with peers, have irregular attendances, and are less likely to graduate from high school.
  5. School leaders also have a role to play in the success of students. Districts, for example, can create a reform team to restructure their school districts. Restructuring teams normally consist of a school board member, the superintendent and assistant superintendents, principals, teachers, and other pertinent individuals.

Once the team is created, efforts must be made to assess the district’s capacity for implementing and sustaining school reform. The team must ask itself whether the district has all of the resources needed to implement and sustain a successful school reform. In extreme cases, when the district feels it is unable to coordinate its own reform effort, the team might want to consider allowing the state department of education to oversee the reform process.

Another option for schools that feel they are lacking in the area of certified and experienced reform personnel is to hire an educational consulting firm.

I think it is unfair to blame teachers solely for the performance of their students. Yes, they play a role in shaping the young minds in their classrooms and yes, they should be held accountable for that. However, it seems to me that the root of issues in classrooms that tend to cause the most problems for students (like poverty and ill-equipped or uninvolved parents) should be the target of any true reform.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Thin edge of the wedge!

Farming families call for a tax break to send their kids to boarding school  A push by the Pastoralists & Graziers Association of WA  for tax breaks for school boarding fees has sparked debate among country parents battling to meet rising costs. 
Maybe support local state schools instead!!!!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

40 large is too much! Bullshit!

Is a minimum salary of $40,000 too much to guarantee a teacher? The governor of Illinois believes so.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday vetoed legislation that would have raised the minimum salary for an Illinois teacher to $40,000 within five years, putting the re-election-seeking Republican at odds with teachers unions once again.

The bill approved by lawmakers in the spring would make the minimum teacher salary for next school year $32,076. The number would rise to $40,000 for the 2022-23 term and grow with the Consumer Price Index after that.

‘Teachers are our greatest asset in ensuring the future of our youth and they deserve to be well-compensated for their hard work,’ Rauner wrote in his veto message. ‘However, minimum pay legislation is neither the most efficient nor the most effective way to compensate our teachers.

‘Things like pay-for-performance, diversified pay for teachers in hard-to-staff schools or subjects, or pay incentives for teachers with prior work experience are all viable options to provide greater compensation for teachers,’ the governor wrote.

The Democrat who sponsored the salary bill said Sunday that he was “disappointed.”

‘Refusing to guarantee professional educators a livable minimum wage is no way to lure more teachers to Illinois,’ Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill said in a statement. ‘I’m disappointed in the governor’s veto, and I know thousands of dedicated, hard-working, creative educators throughout the state are too.'”