Tuesday, 23 June 2015

You can't leave Ken Boston out of it

From the Sydney Morning Herald

An architect of the Gonski school reforms has slammed a proposal, contained in a leaked government discussion paper, for the federal government to abdicate funding for public schools as "completely foreign" to the equity principles underpinning the Gonski funding model.

Ken Boston, a member of the Gonski Review panel and a former head of the NSW education department, said he strongly opposed the proposal for state governments to fund public schools while the federal government assumes sole responsibility for independent schools. "This would be the antithesis of Gonski," Dr Boston said, referring to the review's model of a needs-based funding model which applies equally across all school sectors.  "The idea should be ruled out completely - it is completely foreign to the Gonski formula."

Dr Boston said he saw merit in exploring the green paper's first proposal: making the states and territories fully responsible for schools. This would increase clarity and could be implemented in accordance with Gonski principles, he said.  The paper's fourth option - handing over full funding responsibility to the Commonwealth - would pose "major constitutional difficulties and go against 200 years of Australian history", he said. Dr Boston said universal access to free public schooling must be maintained.

Option four 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."

On the flip side: A former adviser to Mr Abbott, Terry Barnes, said means-testing for public education was a good idea that should not be ruled out by "reform shy" politicians. Mr Barnes was the architect of the dumped $7 fee for GP visits. There’s a surprise – need I say more?

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