The Abbott/Pyne government is once again exposed (this time in their own Prime Minister’s Department Green paper) as being totally contemptuous of government schools and the notion of a state school system that is free, secular and compulsory. Education for ALL is the foundation of our universal education system since 1870 (When Glen Park Primary School and thousands of others were built across Australia) Since coming to power on a raft of lies (no bigger lie were the lies they peddled about implementing the Gonski reforms) Pyne and Abbott have systematically (but largely unsuccessfully) tried to undermine the public education system. From trying to introduce an American style higher education system which NOBODY but them and the big universities want (and they’ve backed away lately) withholding funding (until the last minute) to kindergartens and scrapping meaningful Gonski reform. The story below highlights their mentality (Pyne has spoken before about not funding public education but leaving it entirely to the cash-strapped states) of Pyne and Abbott and their desire to create an education system for the few and not the whole.
From today’s Age
‘Wealthy parents’ could be required to pay for their children to attend public schools under a radical federal government proposal that would open the door to means-tested free public education. The idea is outlined in a confidential discussion paper, developed within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, that is set to spark a new national debate on school funding.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne says the government has a particular responsibility for independent schools that it doesn't have for public schools.
The schools chapter of the Abbott government's green paper on federation reform, also contains a proposal for the Commonwealth to abandon funding for all schools or for public schools. Ending federal funding for public schools would leave the states $2 billion a year worse off and kill off the Gonski Review's national needs-based, sector-blind funding model for schools.
The green paper, which has been circulated to state and territory governments for consideration, presents four reform options:
· giving the states and territories full responsibility for all schools;
· making states and territories fully responsible for funding public schools while the federal government funds non-government schools;
· reducing Commonwealth involvement in schools, but without significant structural change; or
· making the federal government the dominant funder of all schools.
Under the fourth option, the federal government would provide funding for all students "adjusted for student need and the ability of families to make a contribution".
The paper makes explicit the prospect of public school fees for high-income families by saying: "The States and Territories would have the option to 'top-up' funding to government schools, if they wished to do so, to ensure all public school students, regardless of the ability of families to make a contribution, were able to attend for free."
The paper says this "ambitious" model would allow funding to be tightly targeted at addressing disadvantage and would promote parental choice in schooling. But it would separate responsibility for service delivery and funding, which is "not ideal". The green paper does not explore how the federal government would raise revenue to fund the proposal or explore its constitutionality. The proposal follows a recommendation by free market think tank the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) last year to charge high-income families $1,000 a year to send their children to public schools. It contrasts with the Gonski Review, which stated: "It is important for the future of Australian schooling that the government sector continues to perform the role of a universal provider of high-quality education which is potentially open to all." A spokesman for Mr Pyne said: "The green paper is part of a discussion process with state, territories and stakeholders and the government doesn't intend to pre-empt this process." The green paper precedes a final white paper on federation reform which is due for release by the end of the year. The green paper's first option would see the states and territories assume total responsibility for school funding – a $15 billion annual saving for the federal government. "This option would provide absolute clarity to the public as to which level of government is responsible for schooling," the paper says. "The States and Territories would be 'sovereign in their own sphere' and reflect their responsibilities set out in the constitution." But it would be a "significant and historic shift" because the Commonwealth has provided grants for non-government schools since 1970.
The second option would make the states fully responsible for government schools while the federal government would exclusively fund independent schools. This would deliver "clean lines of accountability" but would lead to concerns about fairness and could encourage cost-shifting by governments, the paper says. Option three would "essentially retain the status quo but reduce the Commonwealth's involvement" in school policy.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne last year told a Christian schools conference his government has an "emotional commitment" to independent schools.
"I want to have a direct relationship with the non-government sector," Mr Pyne said. "Having talked to the Prime Minister about this matter many times, it is his view that we have a particular responsibility for non-government schooling that we don't have for government schooling."