Friday, 21 February 2020

Criminal

Between 2013 & 2017, Australia’s four richest schools spent $402 million on new facilities and renovations, $37 million more than the 1800 poorest schools combined. 

Saturday, 15 February 2020

NAPLAN SHMAPLAN

In the past few years the repetitive refrain has been that educational outcomes in Australia are stagnant; and the policy response has been to ramp up the focus on standardised testing.

It is not just the outcomes that are stagnant but the education debate itself.

The problem is that NAPLAN has moved from being a mechanism to check the pulse of one part of the education system, to being the reason that schools exist.

Improved NAPLAN results have become the purpose of education.

Despite the fact that it only deals with literacy and numeracy, NAPLAN has become the surrogate arbiter of educational standards in all aspects of education.

As more NAPLAN-based targets are set each year, the focus on the annual standardised test becomes ever more intense, and the education debate is narrowed.

And as it narrows, we ignore some of the big trends that are causing considerable damage to our education systems, including:

  • Inequitable educational outcomes – students in the bottom socioeconomic scale are falling further and further behind their more advantaged peers;
  • A socially segregated schooling system – the proportion of students who attend a socially mixed school is lower in Australia than in most other comparable countries, including Canada, New Zealand and the UK;
  • Downgraded systems of public education – through inequitable funding policies, public schools are seen increasingly as safety nets for families who can’t afford private schools instead of as the centre-piece of schooling provision;
  • An impoverished view about the role of education in the 21st century – the richness of education is reduced to a narrow focus on literacy and numeracy, and the kinds of creative capacities needed for the future are ignored.

The response to these wide-ranging and damaging effects of current education policy cannot be addressed by simply modifying or even removing NAPLAN after a ‘review’.

The more we focus on NAPLAN in the name of lifting educational standards, the more we get away from what really constitutes a deep and enriching educational experience.

Clearly we need to expand our education horizons.

As more NAPLAN-based targets are set each year, the focus on the annual standardised test becomes ever more intense, and the education debate is narrowed.

And as it narrows, we ignore some of the big trends that are causing considerable damage to our education systems, including:

  • Inequitable educational outcomes – students in the bottom socioeconomic scale are falling further and further behind their more advantaged peers;
  • A socially segregated schooling system – the proportion of students who attend a socially mixed school is lower in Australia than in most other comparable countries, including Canada, New Zealand and the UK;
  • Downgraded systems of public education – through inequitable funding policies, public schools are seen increasingly as safety nets for families who can’t afford private schools instead of as the centre-piece of schooling provision;
  • An impoverished view about the role of education in the 21st century – the richness of education is reduced to a narrow focus on literacy and numeracy, and the kinds of creative capacities needed for the future are ignored.

The response to these wide-ranging and damaging effects of current education policy cannot be addressed by simply modifying or even removing NAPLAN after a ‘review’.

The more we focus on NAPLAN in the name of lifting educational standards, the more we get away from what really constitutes a deep and enriching educational experience.

Clearly we need to expand our education horizons.

For the past 40 years education policy makers have been in the grip of a standardising educational narrative of which NAPLAN is just the most prominent feature. It includes school choice, competition between schools in an education market, narrowing the curriculum, and mistrust of educators.

Trump and DeVos lie...

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Trump singled out a child from Philadelphia who, he said, was “trapped in a failing government school.” In fact, the child attends one of the city’s most elite charter schools. Didn’t Betsy DeVos realize she had given $1.3 million to the self-same charter school in 2019?

President Donald Trump turned a Philadelphia fourth grader into a poster child for the school-choice movement Tuesday when he told the nation that thousands of students were “trapped in failing government schools” and announced that the girl was at last getting a scholarship to attend the school of her choice.

But Janiyah Davis already attends one of the city’s most sought-after charter schools, The Inquirer has learned. In September, months before she was an honored guest at Trump’s State of the Union address, she entered Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III.

MaST III opened in the fall in a gleaming facility on the site of the former Crown Cork & Seal headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, part of a charter network so popular that the school received 6,500 applications for 100 seats next year. Like all charters, it’s independently run but funded by taxpayers — meaning that Janiyah and the other 900 students at the school do not pay tuition.

How she landed in the audience during Trump’s prime-time speech Tuesday remains a bit of a mystery even to Janiyah’s mother, Stephanie Davis.

In an interview Friday, Davis, a teacher’s assistant who lives in Northeast Philadelphia, said she received a call several weeks ago from the principal at Janiyah’s former school, Olney Christian School at 425 E. Roosevelt Blvd.

After attending public kindergarten, Janiyah moved to Olney Christian for first through third grades. Tuition there is $5,200 for elementary students. She received a partial scholarship, Davis said, but it was still a struggle to afford. So Janiyah transferred to MaST III after she was accepted there last summer.

So the student was NOT attending what Trump and DeVos call a “failing government school.” She attended a private Christian academy, then transferred to a highly selective charter school. But she was singled out as Trump’s example of a student “trapped in a failing government school.”  Was she trapped in a a failing public kindergarten four years ago?

Friday, 31 January 2020

No library? What the actual fuck!

It has 17 storeys, science labs with panoramic views and abseiling window cleaners. But Sydney's new, $225 million high-rise high school has no library.

Rather than dedicating a room to the school's books and research resources in the form of a traditional library, the new Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, which opened this week, will have so-called iHubs for each year level on different floors.

Monday, 27 January 2020

They'll never lower fees. Why should they?

Just weeks after he became prime minister in August 2018, Scott Morrison announced an additional $4.6 billion in federal funding for non-government schools. “Our government believes that parents should have choice in education,” he explained. “The policies that we pursue as a government are about ensuring that choice for parents.” Just in case anyone missed the message, the extra cash was branded as the Choice and Affordability Fund.

As marketing, Morrison’s line may have worked; as public policy it simply doubled down on what was already an abject failure. Over the past twenty years, the Commonwealth has massively ramped up funding for non-government schools. And still, every summer, as reliably as Christmas and the Boxing Day Test, reports of steep increases in private school fees surface in the nation’s newspapers, along with stories of parents struggling to cope and principals struggling to explain. Now figures from the My School website, encompassing every school in Australia and incorporating all sources of revenue, confirms what the anecdotal evidence has long suggested.

The data for the seven years from 2011 to 2017, collected and published by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, reveals the sheer scale of the expansion of government funding to non-government schools. For context, between 2011 and 2017, inflation averaged 1.9 per cent annually, compounding to 12 per cent. Over the same period, recurrent government funding to non-government schools increased by around three times as much, with an average per-student increase of 37 per cent at Independent schools and 35 per cent at Catholic schools. Funding to state schools grew by just 18 per cent per student.

Despite the huge boost in public funding, private schools didn’t reduce their fees. In fact, the price of entry continued to rise rapidly. Between 2011 and 2017, the average tuition fee at non-government schools grew from $3600 to $4700. By 2017, fees averaged $2290 at primary schools, $5700 at secondary level and $8560 at combined K–12 schools. Private school principals and lobbyists often point to rising costs, but this increase equates to an average annual hike in tuition fees of 4.5 per cent, more than twice the rate of inflation.

What this makes clear is that more public spending on private schools has not put downward pressure on fees; it has merely compounded the resource advantage enjoyed by those who can afford a private school education. Net recurrent income per student increased by 29 per cent to just under $20,000 at Independent schools and by 33 per cent to more than $16,000 at Catholic schools.

When the Howard government presided over a substantial increase in federal funding to non-government schools at the start of this century, John Howard went on Melbourne radio to predict that fees would soon fall as a result. The headmasters of  Scotch College and Wesley College confirmed that fee cuts were imminent, and the executive director of the Independent Schools Council disclosed that many schools were “poised to move very quickly” to reduce costs to parents. Howard’s lieutenant, education minister David Kemp, claimed that “the new arrangements will particularly extend choice to low-income families.” “Choice in schooling is now a reality for working-class Australian families,” Minister Kemp told parliament.

Two decades later, the My School data reveals a very different story. Far from making school choice a reality for low-income families, the policies pursued by Dr Kemp and his successors have had the opposite effect. In 2018, 36 per cent of students at public schools came from the most disadvantaged quartile of Australian society. Only 17 per cent of students at Catholic schools came from the same group. The proportion of very disadvantaged kids at Independent schools was even less, at just 14 per cent.

In August, Haileybury College in Melbourne was identified by the ABC report as one of the four richest schools in Australia, which together managed to spend more on new facilities than Australia’s poorest 1800 schools combined. Haileybury clocked up over $100 million in capital expenditure between 2013 and 2017. At the same time, it enjoyed nearly 40 per cent growth in recurrent Commonwealth funding, an increase from $4300 to $6000 per student per year. Haileybury didn’t use the additional public funding to extend choice to low-income families: it increased its fees from $18,700 in 2011 to $22,700 in 2017. Unsurprisingly, the already small proportion of kids from disadvantaged families at Haileybury shrank even further: the proportion of children from the bottom half of the Australian population, according to income and educational attainment, collapsed from 16 per cent to 5 per cent in just seven years.

Haileybury might not be a typical non-government school, but it is representative of the national trend. The same pattern of rapid fee rises, declining enrolments from low-income families and substantial growth in taxpayer funding replicates itself throughout towns and suburbs across the country. Exactly the same dynamic can be found at St Bede’s College in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Mentone; or at St Gregory’s College in Campbelltown; or at Ignatius Park College in the Toowoomba suburb of Cranbrook: in all of these schools, fees increased despite steady increases in government funding, and the proportion of students from Australia’s most disadvantaged families decreased by half or more.

It may once have been plausible to claim that more public funding would improve choice and affordability. Today, such assertions amount to a refusal to face reality; or, worse, an attempt to obscure it. Federal governments have been conducting this experiment for two decades and the results speak for themselves. Twenty years since John Howard declared that private school fees would fall, we are still waiting.

Government funding has increased so much that non-government schools now enjoy similar public funding to state schools. By 2017, Catholic schools received, on average, annual government funding of $13,000 per student, while Independent schools received around $11,000 per student. That’s 81 per cent and 69 per cent respectively of the average per-student funding that goes to state schools. The difference narrows even further when we account for the much larger share of expensive-to-educate students at state schools (such as kids in rural and remote locations, and children with disabilities or from other disadvantaged groups). Comparing like with like, non-government schools receive around 90 to 95 per cent of the public funding that government schools do — and yet fees continue to rise rapidly.

Why don’t private schools cut their fees in response to this ever-growing taxpayer contribution? The most important reason is very simple. They don’t have to. Education is not like many other products in the marketplace: price is seen as a signal of quality, exclusivity is often a selling point, and the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding our children’s wellbeing leads parents to grin and bear high fees and even wear them as a badge of honour. And cutting fees generally could let in a greater number of disadvantaged students, who are typically more expensive to educate. So there’s rarely a business case for cutting fees. Fee reductions and improved affordability won’t happen until governments require it — by imposing caps on fees, demanding a minimum number of scholarships or creating an obligation to enrol local students, for instance.

If we really want to improve choice, it’s not enough to just keep handing over more taxpayer dollars. Non-government schools have to assume public obligations that are commensurate with the public funding they receive. In Australia, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council has proposed a public charter that would establish a common regulatory environment for all schools in receipt of public funding. There are plenty of models to draw on: church schools are part of public systems in Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and other European countries. In New Zealand, religious schools were integrated into the state system over four decades ago.

We could draw on these examples to expand genuine school choice, while balancing it with other imperatives like equity, quality, efficiency and social cohesion. It’s possible to create free, inclusive schools that also reflect a variety of different worldviews. But first we need a government that really believes in choice in education — for all and not just for some. •

Well worth it?????

Parents at some Sydney private schools will pay more than $40,000 for their child's year 12 education this year, with fees rising almost $10,000 in seven years despite increased federal government funding for independent schools.

Additional technology levies at SCEGGS Darlinghurst and The King's School have pushed final-year fees over $40,000 for the first time.

SCEGGS is charging a record $39,700 for year 12 tuition but a compulsory $780 technology fee raises the total cost to $40,480, which is $9979 more than fees in 2013.

The King's School in Parramatta will charge $40,714 for year 12 after additional technology and meal fees are included, an increase of $11,809 on raw fees seven years ago.

The Scots College ($39,180) and Cranbrook ($38,862) in Bellevue Hill absorb additional levies in their fees.

Federal government funding per student for King's is set to rise by 50 per cent of its 2017 levels by 2027 under the 'Gonski 2.0' scheme, a total of $19.3 million. Boys' private schools Newington College ($35,271) and Knox Grammar School ($34,770) are also receiving additional federal government funding under the scheme.

"This is a very small and specific group [of schools], but certainly the increasing government subsidisation has resulted in an extraordinary increase in the standard of their facilities and plans," Ms Proctor said. "You have to question whether it’s necessary for these schools to look like five-star hotels."

Many of Sydney's most expensive private schools are now charging $10,000 more for year 12 tuition than they did seven years ago. A sample of 14 high-fee schools shows an average fee increase of 31 per cent since 2013.

Helen Proctor, an education professor at the University of Sydney, said it was "paradoxical" that school fees had risen alongside government subsidies. "One of the arguments for subsidising private schools is to keep them affordable, and yet at this very top level the fees keep going up," she said.

HOORAY 190000 views!!!



Sunday, 26 January 2020

Greed

This $6 Million to Jewish Schools in Wentworth was announced the same day that $400 mil was cut from the Education Budget for Drought relief last year.
LNP Dave Sharma boasted about it in a tweet.