In a speech to the Independent Schools Council ( who else) the Federal Education Minister passed the buck on the widening gap between state and independent school funding by .....yes you guessed it, blaming the states! Here is the story from today's Sydney Morning Herald
Education Minister Simon Birmingham has blasted state governments for having the "gall" to complain about an education funding crisis when they have failed to invest in their own schools.
( He's right about that. His mates in the Liberal Party didn't invest money in state school education here in Victoria for 4 years recently)
State governments, particularly NSW and Victoria, have lobbied strongly for the Turnbull government to commit to the final two years of Labor's Gonski school funding deals - calls that have so far been rebuffed.
In a speech to the Independent Schools Council of Australia on Tuesday, Senator Birmingham also pushed back against claims that the Gonski funding increases are leading to big leaps in educational results at disadvantaged schools. In fact, according to analysis of the latest NAPLAN results, many of the schools recording the biggest improvements actually saw their funding fall year-on-year, he said.
Senator Birmingham said that - far from cutting back on spending - the federal government has been doing the "heavy lifting" on schools, with its spending growing twice as fast as state governments over the past decade.
"The federal per student funding for students in state government schools is 66 per cent higher, in real terms, than 10 years ago, yet some states still have the gall to say there's a funding crisis," he said.
"If there is, then the blame rests comfortably on their heads ... the states cannot and should not be let off the hook for what is ultimately their prime responsibility in terms of how much they spend and how they allocate their spending.
"This is especially the case for those states who scream loudest for more money, yet invest the least themselves."
The Labor opposition has committed to spending $4.5 billion to fund the final two years of Gonski, while the Coalition wants to negotiate new funding arrangements from 2018.
Senator Birmingham said he wanted to shift the schools funding debate from an almost exclusive focus on the federal government.( Yes they recognise that Gonski inaction is an open wound for them. They lied at the last election....it's as simple as that!)
"It is the states and territories that are responsible for the quality of our education system since they all administer education acts, register and regulate all schools, register all teachers, accredit all teacher courses, and determine the implementation sequence and timing of the national curriculum."
The Commonwealth runs no schools and employs no teachers. ( But they take in lots of tax payers money.)
Senator Birmingham said the release of the latest NAPLAN data last week had led to claims that "extra Commonwealth funding was responsible for improvements in students' outcomes".
But, in fact, the relationship between funding increases and improvements in results were "highly variable – and there is no clear pattern relating to changes in funding relative to disadvantage".( When I read Donnelly's attack on state education funding yesterday I knew that this limp attack wasn't too far away, he's a mouth piece for conservative government's and independent schools.)
Senator Birmingham said schools whose funding fell from 2013 to 2014 were just as likely to be among the biggest NAPLAN improvers as those which had big funding boosts
Senator Birmingham again indicated that the Turnbull government is willing to ditch its controversial plan to link school funding increases to inflation, a 2014 budget change slammed by Labor as a $30 billion cut to school funding.
The independent schools sector has strongly criticised this policy, as have the Catholic and public sectors.
"We understand your sector's concerns about the inflationary cost of education," Senator Birmingham told the audience of independent school educators.
"We have heard it loud and clear and will work with you on this issue."
Senator Birmingham gave similar indications earlier this year, causing confusion when Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government was sticking to its original plan.
Australian Education Union President Correna Haythorpe accused Senator Birmingham of "partisan politicking".
"It is a bit rich for Minister Birmingham to complain about States not funding schools properly when the Coalition Government tried to stop funding agreements which required co-investment from states," she said.
"The Coalition Government has failed to make states accountable for how they spend their Gonski funding, allowing WA, NT and Queensland to make deals that did not require them to make their own investment or even maintain their own spending on schools, and in fact allowed them to spend the money any way they liked."
Meanwhile the report into the Safe Schools Program agreed to by Turnbull after pressure from reactionaries in his party has been completed and will be released tonight, to the very same reactionaries who demanded it.
I wonder how Abetz, Christiansen, Abbott, Andrews, Bernardi etc will handle the results?