WOW…. A draft report leaked no doubt by the liberals to the ABC has found evidence that taxpayer funds for Catholic schools are being directed away from poor dioceses and into more popular schools. It warns that taxpayer funds must only go towards education. (Where are they going now? Not to pay the legal expenses of paedophile priests I hope!) and it also calls for a new body to oversee administration and distribution of funding to schools. (It says something about a lack of transparency! Others and myself have been saying that for years.
The internal report, by Kathryn Greiner (A contributor to the original….and best Gonski review) on behalf of the New South Wales and ACT Catholic Bishops, also contains a warning Commonwealth funds must only go towards education and not to broader parish operations.
It suggests the way funds are pooled and redistributed is not always fair, citing "evidence that resources for quality education are being captured in the more populous dioceses … to the detriment of the greater need in the rural and remote dioceses." (So in other words. Big ‘elite’ city schools are getting all the money and not small rural schools! )
It points to another report commissioned in 2015, which found the Wilcannia Forbes Dioceses in western New South Wales — one of the most disadvantaged in the state — received a funding decrease.
"Wilcannia-Forbes is by most measures the most disadvantaged of the Dioceses, yet the long-term model delivered a funding decrease," the report said. (I have no doubt that this is also happening in Victoria and other states. I bet there are alarm bells on this matter ringing all over the place. As if Gonski 2.0 wasn’t enough to wipe the smug look off Stephen Elder’s face! They thought they had friends in Canberra and Sydney! Apparently only Abbott is their friend.)
Lack of transparency
The Greiner report spells out that Commonwealth legislation requires, "any state and commonwealth funding to be quarantined from any parish/diocesan work".
There is no direct accusation of misappropriation in the report but the warning alone highlights a lack of transparency in the Catholic school funding system.
Few people know how much each school is actually getting or even whether every dollar is being spent appropriately.
The Greiner report has labelled current governance structures within the NSW Catholic schools as "flawed" and "inadequate".(It will be the same in Victoria)
"A fundamental tension exists between the understandable wish for each Diocese to maintain the ability to independently govern, while still reaping the benefits of a collective approach in various matters, such as the allocation of funds," the report said.
"It is a tension that is becoming irreconcilable with both a contemporary understanding of good corporate governance and basic compliance with legislative obligations across not only funding distribution, but also a range of other areas including privacy and child protection."
The report calls for the establishment of a new authority, "to ensure school funding is being specifically directed to the education of students and for no other purpose, on the basis of need and in compliance with the Australian Education Act 2013."
Gonski 2.0 fight
Ross Fox, the director of Catholic Education in Canberra and Goulburn, said that funds are allocated on a needs basis already.
"They stretch every dollar, to make it work, to provide the best teaching and learning for children," he said.
He said school funding is subject to strict legislation and there was no way it was being diverted to other parish activities.
"This is an essential point. Parents need to have confidence in our use of school funds and in New South Wales it's illegal. People should be going to jail if that's occurring so there's no question. It is not occurring," he said.
The draft report comes as Catholic schools mobilise for a major campaign against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's so-called Gonski 2.0 funding arrangements.
Under the new funding model, Catholic schools will receive an additional $1.2 billion over four years.
But the National Catholic Education Commission is unhappy with the move to a single, national needs-based funding model.
"We think the Commonwealth is seeking to undermine some pretty fundamental elements of Catholic education system funding," acting executive director Danielle Cronin said.
"Catholic Education has been a system for decades and has used a particular mechanism in federal funding formulas to ensure it can disburse funds to schools in an equitable and efficient way." 9Mmmm, well apparently not!)
Dear old pathological liar, Tony Abbott (Friend of the Catholic Church and all its institutions) has taken the opportunity to pour cold water on Turnbull and Birmingham’s master plan to silence education critics. The former prime minister was questioned by students from Mandurah Catholic College about the $18.6 billion restructure of federal education funding announced by Mr Turnbull on Tuesday ahead of next week's budget. He said: "I think any move by the Commonwealth to relatively disadvantage independent and Catholic schools and relatively advantage public schools I think is just wrong in principle,"
"This will, I'm sure, be heavily discussed in our party room on Tuesday and knowing a little bit about politics I suspect that the government will decide that it's on a loser if it does anything that looks like it's disadvantaging Catholic schools."
Mr Abbott said it was imperative that any funding deal respected the Commonwealth's obligations to independent and Catholic schools.
"Historically, it's been the Commonwealth that has been the prime government funder of independent and Catholic schools, it's been the states that have been the prime government funders of public schools, I think we have to respect those traditional roles," he said. (Sounds like DeVos and Trump. They, including Turnbull would dearly love to remove themselves from federal funding of state schools and just fund privates. Pyne said that the Liberal party has an affinity with private schools and the Nationals think that they should be supported to send their kids to private, city boarding schools. None of them give a toss about rural education or state education.)
A Liberal party room meeting ahead of Tuesday's budget is expected to be hotly contested after Mr Abbott signalled a debate on the reform. You will remember that Abbott and Pyne lied about implementing the Gonski reforms if they were elected in 2013. They said they were on a unity ticket with Labor. It was a lie and they reneged on it as soon as they could. The government’s discomfort on this is of their own making. They lied and have been scrambling about ever since. Sadly its schools that suffer.