Sunday, 30 September 2018

Those of us in state schools know private schools are overfunded. Just look around!

NSW is over-funding private schools by $160 million, with some receiving almost $3 million more than they need from state coffers this year while public schools remain under-paid by almost half a billion dollars, a new report has found.

When state and federal money is combined, 30 of the state's high-end private schools are being over-funded by between $1 million and $7 million each in 2018. They include Oakhill College, Loreto Kirribilli and St Aloysius.

Meanwhile, the NSW public school system this year received $470 million less from the NSW government than was needed to meet the state's share of the Schooling Resource Standard, the benchmark for adequate funding.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

They hate state education

By Jane Caro

An award-winning public school principal I know responded wistfully to the extra $4.6 billion in education funding Prime Minister Scott Morrison is giving exclusively to fee-charging schools. Of course, she could have used some extra money, but it was our new PM’s grandiose claim that this extra dosh will “end the schools funding wars” that hit her hardest. Morrison’s complete lack of interest in the fight public schools and their supporters have waged for fairer funding over decades was devastating. Either he doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Either conclusion is deeply dispiriting for those who care about public schools. It ought to be just as troubling for all the rest of us. It certainly is not the attitude of a prime minister governing, as he likes to claim, for “all Australians”.

The principal remarked that the thing that hurt her most when she thought about the very disadvantaged community her high school works so hard for, was that Morrison and Education Minister Dan Tehan are acting as if public schools – and the 70 per cent of Australian kids they teach – don’t really exist.

“My students don’t matter to them,” she said. “It’s as if their future, their potential and those of us who do our level best to encourage them are beside the point. Our schools simply don’t count, and we can be safely ignored.”

There is a terrifying arrogance among those who have no understanding of the importance of public education in ensuring the strength and resilience of both an advanced economy and a functioning democracy. Caught up with their own personal agendas – proselytising a particular religion on the part of those who run such schools or buying an advantage for their own children on the part of those who choose them – they totally miss the bigger and more important picture. Worse, it seems as if almost every member of the federal Coalition has no understanding of the importance of public education. Some of them might deign to turn up to speech night at the public schools in their electorate to placate a few voters. Many don’t even do that. In the 13 years my children attended a comprehensive public high school in Tony Abbott’s electorate, he didn’t once turn up. I know because both my daughters were singers – not award winners, sadly – and I attended every single speech night to watch them perform.

There is simply nothing special or important about private education as an idea. It’s been around since kings hired tutors for their children. Any tin-pot dictatorship can, and does, create a highly educated elite. There is nothing difficult or clever about that. What is difficult, what requires a commitment by every member of the community – particularly, one would think, those who lead it – is a strong, well-supported, well-resourced public education system open to every child in their own right, regardless of who their parents are. That is what differentiates a civil society from one where inherited privilege trumps equality of opportunity.

And, of course, the reason tin-pot dictatorships remain tin-pot is because the people who get promoted and fill the positions of power do so because of privilege, not talent or skill. I sometimes look at the antics of our current crop of political leaders, most of whom attended the same small group of so-called elite boys’ schools, and wonder if we might not already be there.

Perhaps not coincidentally, none of our recent prime ministers have been great supporters of public education. John Howard declared it to be “values neutral”, which is bizarre as it is the only system that accepts all children without judgement. It’s hard to think of a more important value in a participatory democracy than that. Kevin Rudd injected some much-needed money into the system via his school halls program, but he was undermined by his education minister and eventual successor Julia Gillard, who declared she couldn’t see the difference between public and private schools. Despite the popularity of the original Gonski scheme, Gillard dithered for months over it and had to be dragged to the sticking point by then New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell – a Liberal – and his then education minister Adrian Piccoli – a National. She also warped its needs-based character early on by insisting that no school could lose a dollar. Mind you, perhaps she was prescient about the political cost, given Morrison’s opportunistic announcement last week. Abbott made no pretence of being anything but hostile to public schools. He tried to about-face on Gonski after promising no cuts to education in the election campaign, though the resulting outcry forced him to about-face on the about-face. Malcolm Turnbull was smarter, quietly burying the Gonski funding – he cut $2.2 billion from all schools but $1.9 billion of it came from public ones – while claiming to praise the scheme. And now we have Morrison. A man so hostile to the very idea of public schools that he said he keeps his own children out of them because of the values they teach – specifically inclusion and gender diversity.

Frankly, like the public school principal I quoted above, it is hard not to despair. Public education is a perfect storm. The federal Liberal National Party can call their funding needs-based until they are blue in the face, but with 52 per cent of public school enrolments coming from families below the average Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) – while only 11 per cent of Catholic school and 5 per cent of independent school enrolments do so – such spin is not just cynical but cruel. The result of this “needs-based” scheme, in fact, will be that 87 per cent of the schools that educate most of the neediest kids – that is, public schools – will remain funded below the minimum school resource standard into the foreseeable future. Already, 65 per cent of fee-charging schools are funded above this threshold; even more now, I dare say, thanks to Morrison’s largesse.

According to the OECD, Australia is far and away the biggest spender of public money on private schools of any advanced economy, and that was before Morrison’s spectacular injection of cash. A year earlier, another report from the OECD warned that Australia invests a lower proportion of public money in public education than the OECD average, with only Turkey and Colombia doing worse. Yet, enrolments in public schools are going up, mostly at the cost of Catholic schools. The main reason for this, no doubt, is stagnant wage growth. The fallout from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the worldwide scandals concerning the Catholic Church and child sexual abuse in general, and the loss of religious faith by so many in the West will have also played their part. And therein lies the clue.

There is simply no economic, ethical or educational justification for spending $4.6 billion on the kids who are overwhelmingly from better-off households in already well-resourced schools. So why do it? I believe this florid, unjustifiable injection of cash is part of the culture war. This extra money is an attempt to turn the tide against public education, particularly among the people our leaders think “matter” – read, the middle class. There is an existential terror among the religious right, and no wonder. Forget Australia’s overwhelming “Yes” vote for marriage equality, when Catholic Ireland also votes for marriage equality and even more spectacularly for the repeal of draconian abortion laws – and has now made all abortions available free – a collective, worldwide shiver runs down the spine of people who prefer the rules to be made by those who are white, male, Christian and straight.

It is the secular nature of public education that Morrison and his fellow conservative believers don’t like. That’s why unexceptional teaching resources such as the anti-bullying Safe Schools program cause such a disproportionate kerfuffle. It’s why media furphies over Christmas carols and nativity plays in public schools are as ubiquitous as tinsel and reindeers every December. It’s why conservative prime ministers from John Howard onwards have sneered at the lack of values in public schools. What they really mean is the lack of their particular brand of rigid Christian values. It’s the greatest strength of public education that they reject – inclusivity, the fundamental belief that there are as many ways to live a good life as there are people living lives.

In fact, it’s not that Morrison doesn’t care about public schools, the people who teach in them or the kids who attend them. It’s worse than that. He sees them as his ideological enemies.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 29, 2018 as "Schools of thought police". Subscribe here.

Friday, 28 September 2018

2,000 head teachers march on Downing Street to protest 'unsustainable' school cuts

More than 2,000 head teachers from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have marched on Downing Street protesting funding cuts and demanding ministers do not take them for "fools".

Around 1,000 heads were expected, but organisers of the march calling for increased funding for schools, but organisers say more than 2,000 took part.

The march was organised by grassroots campaign "Worth Less?" which believes extra investment will alleviate concerns about class sizes, staff recruitment and retention and teaching conditions.

The protesters gathered in Parliament Square before converging on Downing Street, where a delegation delivered a letter to Chancellor Phillip Hammond protesting over what they claim are "unsustainable" funding cuts and demanding ministers do not take them for "fools".

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), called the march an "organic experience of school-leader frustration and anger".

He continued: "It's a fantastic turnout and although it's supported by the unions, it's not arranged by them.

Rob Kelsall, one of the organisers, said the protest had taken place "because there is no alternative".

"We are seeing schools - both maintained and academies - that are seeing their funds depleted, dipping into their reserves, and having to send out begging letters to parents.

”One teacher said to me that if we go to London on Friday and get the Treasury to change its funding policy, he reckons that will be the best day's work he's ever done. That's the stage we're at.“

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner voiced support for the protest.

She said the "unprecedented action by headteachers is a clear sign of the desperate struggle they now face to provide a decent education while balancing the books."

Earlier this year, figures showed the number of secondary schools in England running at a loss had nearly trebled in four years.

The study, published by the Education Policy Institute in March, said the number of local council-run secondary schools in deficit dropped from 14.3% in 2010/11 to 8.8% in 2013/14, but between 2013/14 and 2016/17, the numbers in deficit nearly trebled to 26.1%.

In July, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said total school spending per pupil fell around 8% in real terms in England between 2009/10 and 2017/18.

Prep readers

Dyslexia Victoria Support has launched a campaign that urges the state government to fund "decodable readers" for all Victorian preps in state schools.

More than 2000 people have signed its petition, which was launched after the NSW government announced that every public school would receive $50 per prep student to purchase decodable texts.

Decodable books are sequenced so students incorporate new phonics skills that they have been taught in class.

For instance, one book might focus on the 'I' sound in hi, pie and night.

Predictable texts, on the other hand, repeat the same sentence structure, with a few words changed to reflect each picture.

Heidi Gregory, the co-founder of the group, said decodable books would help all students, not just those with dyslexia.

“Too many children are being left behind,” she said.

“For the kids with dyslexia, this approach to reading is critical, but it’s also best practice for all kids.”

Speech pathologist Alison Clarke said predictable books could create a false impression that a child was succeeding.

“There’s often an impression that a child is reading when they are actually just memorising words,” she said.

“When you write the words on cards and show them they can’t remember them.”

But while Ms Clarke is an advocate for decodable readers, she said they were never a substitute for children’s literature.

“Their parents need to be reading interesting books to them so that they can be exposed to new vocabulary,” she said.

Education Minister James Merlino said schools could use their existing funding to buy new readers.

"Schools are best placed to select texts which meet the instructional needs of individual students, including students who need additional support with decoding, and students whose reading abilities are further progressed," he said.

"Schools are already funded to purchase these books, including decodable books, via the student resource package.”

The Opposition's education spokesman Tim Smith said he would introduce a compulsory phonics screening check for all grade 1 students if the Coalition won the state election.

"In England, we have seen the dramatic effects that phonics and a screening check can have on students outcomes," he said.

Harriet ended up moving schools during prep so that she could be explicitly taught the rules of reading and writing.

She is now a student at Bentleigh West Primary School, a sought-after state school that screens students for dyslexia and explicitly teaches phonics.

Her mum Sarah, a teacher who leads the school's learning support program, said Harriet had now caught up with her peers.

"She has had high growth," she said. "She loves school and reading."

The school's predictable readers are now gathering dust in storage, and have been replaced with decodable texts.

But Mrs Asome said teachers sometimes showed the old books to new parents to highlight the school's different approach to reading.

"There's one book called The Petticoat," she said.

"Not only do children not know what a petticoat is but it's full of sounds that they have never been taught."

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Catholic school enrolments to stagnate

Catholic school enrolments are expected to stagnate over the next decade while numbers at independent and state schools grow.

As Catholic schools benefit from the Morrison government's $4.6 billion non-government school funding deal, its NSW schools are predicted to lose 8400 students over the next decade despite a population boom.

Catholic education chiefs say fee rises are to blame but others in the sector say confidence in the public school system is increasing and question whether the Royal Commission into child sex abuse has hurt confidence in the Catholic system.

Public school enrolments forecast to boom by 23 times more than Catholic sector over the next decade so why has Morrison  given $4.6 billion to private schools and ignored the national trends about where the need really is? In public schools !

Tehan threatens the states

Education Minister, Tehan threatens to withhold billions in school funding unless deal is struck with states by early December. This is a new low even for Scott Morrison – holding schoolkids to ransom. Parents + teachers are right to be furious. State govts hate his massive public school rip off, so he’s resorting to desperate bully boy tactics. He could solve this fight by fairly funding public schools. Meanwhile elders, educators and parents in Borroloola reportedly forced federal indigenous affairs envoy TonyAbbott out of the community on Wednesday, during the former Prime Minister’s first visit. He picked the wrong community to try and bully.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino blasted what he described as a "clumsy and unprecedented threat" by the Federal Government which has demanded a fresh national agreement on schools funding be signed without delay.

Mr Merlino took the extraordinary step of publicly releasing a letter from Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, which warns the Commonwealth would be unable to fund public and private schools in early 2019 unless a deal is signed by December 7. 

"Should a bilateral agreement not be in place by this date, the Commonwealth will be unable to make the first 2019 payment to the relevant state or territory, including with respect to government schools," the letter said.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

NSW Still holding out....but for how long?

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has reaffirmed his opposition to the federal government’s $4.6 billion funding boost to the private school sector. Mr Stokes says the $1.2 billion choice and accessibility fund, a portion which will be handed to authorities from Catholic and independent schools to distribute, is inequitable because there is no deal like it for the public sector, despite making up two-thirds of schools in Australia. Mr Stokes says funding needs to be applied on a consistent basis across all sectors. 

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Bye bye chaplains

"If elected, Labor will open up the program to give schools the option to choose either a professionally qualified secular student welfare officer or a chaplain" Tanya Plibersek… 
Get rid of Chaplains! 
Morrison just gave God schools a fortune, go there!

Buying off the Catholics big time!

The Morrison government has given Catholic schools more than 10 times the amount of money needed to maintain "affordable choice" for parents, according to analysis by the Grattan Institute.

Meanwhile, federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has signalled there is room to compromise as he attempts to fend off a major stoush with the NSW Liberal government over school funding.

The $4.6 billion injection into private schools announced last week included a $1.2 billion "choice and affordability" fund designed to help Catholic and independent schools keep fees low.

About $718 million is expected to flow to the Catholic sector, with much of that money earmarked for keeping fees low at inner-city primary schools where government funding will decrease under the new "direct income" method of assessing school wealth.

But the Grattan Institute's Pete Goss said as few as 30 Catholic primary schools nationwide faced fee increases in excess of $4000 a year. The median income of families at those schools was more than $200,000, he said, while just one in 100 of their students was socioeconomically below average.

Dr Goss said Catholic primary schools could "easily afford" to keep fees low for less-advantaged families at a cost of just $3-4 million a year - or no more than $50 million over the decade.

Rather than subsidise fees!!!!  Catholic schools could keep fees low just for the families who aren’t advantaged - for less than a tenth of the price.

"They could find that $3-4 million from their own funds, they don't need an extra slush fund."

The schools were largely in inner-city Sydney, particularly the north shore, and Melbourne's eastern suburbs, Dr Goss said.

He said the Morrison government's argument that extra money was necessary to ensure "affordable choice" for parents was misleading.

"Affordable choice is not the same thing as low-fee," he said. "What's affordable to a family on $300,000 is very different to what a family on $60,000 can afford."

The $1.2 billion fund will be delivered to private school authorities in each state to use as they please, though the government wants part of the money to flow to regional and remote schools, as well as those affected by drought.

It is the most controversial part of last week's $4.6 billion boost to private schools, and was quickly branded a "slush fund" by Labor, the unions and former NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli.

The remaining $3.4 billion provides interim and transitional funding as private schools move to a new model for assessing their wealth - based on parents' tax records, rather than the census.

Current NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has led the charge against the policy, threatening to reject any agreement that duds public schools. On Sunday, Mr Tehan conceded NSW could derail the arrangements if its dissent persisted, but indicated he was open to compromise on some aspects.

"These are negotiations. The NSW state government for instance wants things included in the way their contributions to their state schools are counted, so we'll have disucssions around that," he told the ABC's Insiders program.

"I'm sure that he [Mr Stokes] will say they would like more money. I don't know a state and territory government that doesn't want more money for one thing or another. But I'm sure we'll be able to work all that through."

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Reminder about this blog

THANK YOU FOR 157000 views but don't forget to check out:

* Learning with Literature on Facebook

* Learning with Literature on TPT ( both are devoted to literature education for primary/elementary students.) There are over 140 unit plans on there and many of them are free. ( probably more than TPT would like)

* Glen Park Primary School ( The Australian one) on Facebook to find out what we are learning about at my rural state school

* Glen Park Primary School official web site.

This site still has lots of my literacy posts and links and information about education and Ballarat from 2012-17 but predominantly now it is about supporting state school education mostly in Australia but also in the US, NZ and U.K. and about rural education and small rural schools.

From Jane Caro

According to the OECD, Australia now spends more public money on private schools than any other advanced economy and that was before Prime Minister Scott Morrison's extraordinary announcement yesterday that a further $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money is to be thrown at fee-charging schools.

Contrast that with another OECD report released about a year ago, which revealed that Australia — even post the Gonski funding — is the third lowest funder of public schools in the OECD with only Turkey and Colombia doing worse.

Yet our new Prime Minister suggests his latest cash-splash to the education sector that indisputably mostly educates the children of the better-off is a solution to the schools funding wars.

Then he attempts to justify it as part of the sector blind, needs-based funding scheme that once was Gonski.

How can that be? Most of the children who attend fee-charging schools are not, in fact, very needy.

Any fee at all too high for many families

And, you don't need to look at their families declared taxable income to discover that; you just need to look at the fact such schools charge fees.

Even those charging "low fees" — which are only low, after all, in comparison to the extraordinarily high fees charged by other private schools.

How will Gonski 2.0 be delivered?

Any fee at all is too high for many families — particularly (and this ought to go without saying) disadvantaged ones.

Once again, as under then PM John Howard's discredited SES funding scheme, we have two completely different ways of funding schools decided entirely by the sector — public or private — that they belong to.

How can that be touted as sector blind?

And, despite Morrison's attempts to justify the $4.5 billion as somehow needs-based, like the SES, it only applies to the children who attend private schools.

In other words, it is the educational equivalent of a hunger relief scheme for the well fed.

A Pontius Pilate response to pubic schooling

Mr Morrison turns up his nose at any suggestion that his cash-splash leaves public schools — the schools that actually educate the children of the poor — out in the cold. 

He sees them as entirely the responsibility of state governments. 

I believe this could be termed a Pontius Pilate response — he washes his hands of them.

The trouble is state governments are the most cash-strapped arm of government. That's why they must go cap in hand to COAG and squabble for the revenue they need to fund the services they offer like, you guessed it, public schools. 

Also, the poorest states and territories — such as the NT and Tasmania — are the poorest precisely because they have populations with greater needs and less resources. 

So it is at best thoughtless and at worst downright immoral to dump the responsibility for educating the most expensive to teach kids (disadvantaged kids in rural and remote areas can cost tens of thousands of dollars more to educate than middle class kids in urban areas) on the poorest governments.

It's certainly not what is usually thought of as Christian.

We have poured money into private education

No wonder the NSW Teachers Federation has calculated — even before Morrison's largesse to private schools — that 87 per cent of public schools will remain funded below the minimum (I repeat minimum) school resource standard for the foreseeable future, while 65 per cent of private schools (more now, I imagine) will be funded above it. 

This is how we ended up with a Gonski reboot

So, our poorest kids will be left to languish in poorly resourced schools supported by the poorest arm of government under a supposedly needs-based scheme.

Almost as bad as the dereliction of duty towards Australia's most vulnerable children demonstrated by this government is the fact that Australia as a nation gets no discernible return on the huge investment we make in private school.

Since the introduction of Howard's SES scheme, which is the one this new funding of Morrison's most resembles, we have poured money into private education. 

And best not to try and argue that it's gone to public education. How could we be the third lowest spenders on public schools in the OECD if that were so? The money that we have wasted has been wasted at the top end.

And what return have we seen after 18 years of investment? 

Our results have not improved, for anyone, even the most privileged. They have flatlined or gone backwards.

Schools have not become more accessible, private schools disproportionately educate the middle class. 

Fees have not gone down, indeed, they generally rise above the rate of inflation every year.

I have a suggestion for the ATO

The public education system will not take this lying down. 

Those of us who fight for a more equitable education system and the rights of our most disadvantaged kids are not going to shut up.

Even our state governments are recognising the issue.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has already come out all guns blazing and said his government will not sign up to a needs-based, sector-blind funding scheme that is neither of those things.

I have a suggestion for the ATO.

Any parents who can afford fees — particularly the unbelievably high fees charged at some so-called elite schools — who claim to have a low taxable income, should be audited.

After all, surely the long-suffering taxpayer deserves some kind of oversight?

Jane Caro is a board member of the advocacy group Public Education Foundation and has written two books on education: The Stupid Country: How Australia is Dismantling Public Education and What Makes a Good School.

Funding reality

Despite both Ed Minister David Kemp and John Howard claiming in 1999 that increased public funding would be used by non-government schools to keep their fees down, their fees continued to increase in real terms along with their public funding.

January 2017, Sydney's private school fees had soared by up to 20 per cent over the past four years, with some parents being charged more than $35,000 a year despite record levels of public funding. 

Morrison, Tehan, you are talking nonsense.

Far from using their generous public funding from government to lower fees, all the evidence suggests that private schools have instead used it to enable the diversion of more of the revenue they collect from parent fees towards spending on buildings, grounds and facilities.

Backlash starts

Critics have hit back at the Federal Government‘s new school funding model which promises $4.5 billion to independent and Catholic schools and no funding increase for public sector, calling it wildly unfair to students and teachers at government schools.

In case you missed it, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Education Minister Dan Tehan yesterday announced plans to radically change up how funds are doled out to private schools.

Until now, the amount of government cash divvied up to independent and Catholic schools was determined on census data relating to the school’s postcode. So, a private school’s location in a ritzy and well-off suburb has historically impacted how much money it receives from the government.

The new model proposes that funding be determined by the income of the parents who send their kids to the school.

To accomodate that means test, the government said an extra $4.5 billion will be directed to the sector, including what Morrison called a $1.2 billion “choice and affordability fund” to basically ensure those independent and Catholic schools don’t have to raise their fees.

Tehan said the government heard from the Catholic school sector who “put a very strong argument that in some cases they do need to be able to offer low-fee offerings because otherwise choice will be taken away from parents.”

Now that cash injection, and especially the $1.2 billion fund, has been savaged by critics who see the funding as a slap in the face to the public sector.

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek said it appears “the Liberals have done a special deal to set up a $1.2 billion slush fund for private schools” at the expense of public school students.

And the backlash has been bipartisan. NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes today said his state would not sign up to the agreement as long as it included “special deals” for well-off independent schools at the expense of the public sector.

“The Gonski principles provide that school funding should be needs-based and sector-blind. And these are the principles we hold very dear,” Stokes said.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Two Tweets today.

Too true

THIS! Catholic Ed gets a 'lump sum', they do NOT account for where that money is spent. They use poorer schools to squeal for more money yet rarely does that money hit those poorer schools. Has always been this way. 

Parents of these schools need to wake up too! 


I teach at a Catholic school. It is a poor school. I know that my school will not receive much of this funding. It, like most, will be directed at schools in areas where IPALNP reign. It always does, regardless of the system. The poor always miss out. Those with enough get more.

Blowback against LNP money for private schools starts.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes is refusing to accept the “unfair” agreement, which his predecessor Adrian Piccoli has dismissed as a “pathetic” capitulation to the powerful and well connected.

Mr Stokes, a Liberal like Mr Morrison, believes the Commonwealth is pitting public against private schools.

“We are very concerned that the federal government should not strike any special deals with any sector – public or private – but rather ensure that school funding is provided on the basis of need to all public and private schools,” he told 2GB radio on Friday.

But Mr Morrison is unfazed by the blowback from a Liberal colleague.

“I don’t think Rob’s yet had the chance to really look at the full details of this,” Mr Morrison told ABC radio.

“I’m sure once he sees that, he’ll see those comments don’t weigh up with what we’ve actually announced.”

The government is gifting Catholic and independent schools $3.2 billion over 10 years to fund changes to the way parents’ wealth is measured, based on income tax data.

An additional $1.2 billion will be spent on Catholic and independent schools as the government sees fit.

Mr Morrison claims there will be no impact on the state funding arrangements.

“These announcements sit outside of those, and they’re true to what the needs-based funding regime is, to make sure we’re making decisions based on the actual income of parents,” he said.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese accused the government of reigniting the school funding wars.

“Here we have this massive injection of cash, but only to Catholic and independent schools,” Mr Albanese told the Nine Network.

“Public schools, where most kids go in Australia, are missing out. He should look after all children, not just some.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the special deal had no bearing on public schools, saying funding for state-run institutions would increase every year for the next decade.

The deal brings to a head months of discussions to end a long-running war over the Gonski 2.0 school funding model.

The National Catholic Education Commission’s Ray Collins said it would save faith-based schools from increasing fees or shutting down altogether.

“Families can only have school choice if there is an affordable alternative to free, comprehensive government schools,” he said.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Principals speak out

Principals have slammed the Federal Government’s $4.5bn school funding fix as “extremely disappointing”, claiming that the nation’s public schools have been “completely forgotten”.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that a total of $3.2bn would support teachers, parents and students in making “affordable choices”, while $1.2bn would provide extra support for schools in remote and drought-affected areas.

Morrison also pledged a further $170.8m to independent and Catholic schools over the 2019 calendar year.

However, the NSW Secondary Principals Council (NSWSPC) said public schools had been “sidelined”.

“The Prime Minister and Federal Education Minister stated that this policy was about creating more choice in education, however public school students have been completely forgotten,” Presland said.

“Indeed, this announcement could be described as the antithesis of Australian values such as a fair go for all.”

Presland accused Morrison of “prioritising private schools under the guise of choice’ for Australian families”, adding that the deal was a “hypocritical approach” to education funding.

“The Federal Government claims to support needs-based funding yet it has just announced the biggest private school special funding deal we have seen,” he said.

Australian Government Primary Principal Association (AGPPA) president, Ian Anderson, said Morrison’s announcement runs counter to the “sector blind” funding plan that the Federal Government had been promising.

“We are disappointed that deals have been made which moves away from the original tenant of needs-based sector blind funding for all schools,” Anderson said.

The Association called on the Federal Government to ensure that the 2.5 million students in public schools are not disadvantaged compared to other sectors.

“Nothing short of full transparency is acceptable with regards to funding arrangements,” Anderson said.

Dr Mark Merry, the national chair of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), said that while the Association welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement, there is still “much work to be done”.

“Schools are still to learn whether they are to be positively or negatively affected under the new model,” Dr Merry said.

Dr Merry said that while the model allows schools to finalise their planning for 2019, independent schools have a planning cycle that can stretch well beyond five years if they are contemplating expansion and capital development.

“We would hope to see the model fleshed out with more detail as soon as possible,” he said.

R N Breakfast’s Fran Kelly (Catholic educated) asks Plibersek three times to defend the Catholic School system, then argues State Schools funding is increasing, then pushes Morrison line that States should fund State Schools.. nothing unbalanced about that interview!!!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Screw state schools in drought affected areas!

“The Prime Minister’s private school Choice and Affordability Fund is to help drought-affected private schools in rural, regional and remote areas. What about the children in public schools in these same areas?” 

Self interest

Scott Morrison has cut a special deal to give an additional $4.6 billion to private schools. You read that right. $4.6 BILLION. And he refuses to restore a cent of the $1.9 billion the Liberals cut from public schools.

The Morrison government will inject another $4.6 billion into private schools over the next 10 years in a bid to finally end the funding wars and resolve a political stoush with the upset Catholic and independent school sectors.

For the first time, parental income tax records will be used to assess the socio-economic status of private schools, which in turn affects the level of funding they receive from the federal government.

The plan, revealed by Fairfax Media in June, will be phased in over a decade and was recommended by the National School Resourcing Board. It does not affect federal funding for public schools.

Scott Morrison has locked in massive cuts to public schools.No one voted for Morrison’s cuts to public schools, but he’s cutting them anyway!!!

Dysfunctional Government

Honestly, what the hell?! How are schools supposed to finalise their budgets when Morrison refuses to even talk about schools funding until December? He cancelled the COAG meeting because his government is in free fall.

Public school students are being taken for a ride by this chaotic government. 

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Barking mad in Arizona!

Here is a bit of instruction from a guy Superintendent Diane Douglas tapped to help review Arizona’s standards on how to teach evolution in science class:

The earth is just 6,000 years old and dinosaurs were present on Noah’s Ark. But only the young ones. The adult ones were too big to fit, don’t you know.

"Plenty of space on the Ark for dinosaurs – no problem," Joseph Kezele explained to Phoenix New Times' Joseph Flaherty.

Flaherty reports that in August, Arizona's soon-to-be ex-superintendent appointed Kezele to a working group charged with reviewing and editing the state’s proposed new state science standards on evolution. 

Kezele is a biology teacher at Arizona Christian University. He also is president of the Arizona Origin Science Association and, as Flaherty puts it, “a staunch believer in the idea that enough scientific evidence exists to back up the biblical story of creation.”

Douglas has been working for awhile now to bring a little Sunday school into science class. This spring she took a red pen to the proposed new science standards, striking or qualifying the word “evolution” wherever it occurred.

This, after calling for creationism to be taught along with evolution during a candidate forum last November.

“Should the theory of intelligent design be taught along with the theory of evolution? Absolutely,” Douglas said at the time. “I had a discussion with my staff, because we're currently working on science standards, to make sure this issue was addressed in the standards we're working on.”

Thus comes Kezele, appointed last month to an eight-person panel tapped with doing a final edit on the draft standards, which will have to be approved by the state Department of Education.

At least one standard weakened

Douglas' spokesman said that Kezele didn't discuss his "personal creationist beliefs" with the committee but Flaherty reports that Kezele did convince other members to weaken the standards in at least one instance. If it stands, Arizona students will now learn that evolution is  "an explanation for the unity and diversity of organisms, living and extinct" rather than "the explanation."

So much for long-established scientific theory.

Kezele told Flaherty that there is enough scientific evidence to back up the biblical account of creation. He says students should be exposed to that evidence. For example, scientific stuff about the human appendix and the Earth's magnetic field. 

"I'm not saying to put the Bible into the classroom, although the real science will confirm the Bible," Kezele told Flaherty. "Students can draw their own conclusions when they see what the real science actually shows."

Because, hey, Barney floating around on Noah’s Ark.

Kezele told Flaherty that all land animals – humans and dinosaurs alike -- were created on the Sixth Day.

And there was light and the light was, well, a little dim for science class, if you ask me.

Reach Roberts at

Friday, 14 September 2018

Article written by a Tory knobhead

We spend a great deal of time in Australia debating the curriculum we teach our children and the teaching methods deployedand wringing our hands about NAPLAN tests and OECD rankings. But in doing so we seem to assume the structure of school - particularly the "when" - is set in stone. Gonski Mark 2 is just the latest example of this misdirected debate.

Though teaching methods, curriculums, society and our expectations of the education system have changed vastly in the past 70 years, the major structural parameters of the system have not.

The standard remains the one set in the post-World War Two era. Children are taught roughly from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, for roughly 40 weeks a year, from the ages of five to 18. Over a period in which the nature and structure of work, society and family life have undergone profound transformations, the school routine has remained largely untouched.

Any institution that survives largely unchanged for almost 70 years is either remarkably well-designed, or is remarkably resistant to evolution and outside pressures. I believe it is the latter. By any conventional measure, the school system in Australia should be ripe for disruption.

At a time when a major policy challenge for all levels of government is to increase workforce participation, especially of women, schools remain structured around the now antiquated post-war family structure. The school routine continues to assume that one parent (the male) works a full-time job and the other parent (the female) is a full-time carer. Today the norm is entirely reversed: almost two-thirds of families with children have both parents working (with the figure higher still for single-parent households).

In an age when we seek to get more out of our existing resources, be it accommodation (Airbnb), transport (Uber), roads (autonomous vehicles), office space (WeWork) or data storage (cloud-based computing), the utilisation of our schools as an asset class remains woeful.

Most school assets - the buildings and infrastructure - are used only during school hours, or roughly 15 per cent of the time. School employees and teachers are similarly underemployed, working hours closer to three-quarters of a regular full-time job.

We expect government services to adapt to the tempos and demands of modern life, yet the school system remains stubbornly resistant to even the contemplation of change.

And in an economy which demands increasingly high levels of skill and education, if we are to maintain our standards of living and way of life, perhaps some of the answer lies simply in more hours of education and learning.

Working families with children in primary school face particular struggles. If both parents work a regular full-time job, then dropping the children at school and making it to work on time is almost impossible. Parents manage this through a combination of before-school care, one parent starting work later (if their boss allows such flexibility), or relying on grandparents. But why not simply start the school day at 8am, and make lives easier for these families?

The afternoon pick-up at 3pm poses similar challenges. Again, some combination of part-time work, after-school hours care (for which places are in short supply), and grandparents or other carers are used to manage this.

The reality is that most primary age children with both parents working are doing some form of after-school activity, either on the school grounds or elsewhere, for at least several afternoons a week.

But if this is the case, why not mainstream it into the school day? Why not have service providers use school facilities to offer a full range of after-school activities, from sports to dance, music to art, rather than the one-size-fits-all after-school care currently on offer? Why not have service providers rent out school facilities and create a valuable stream of income for schools? I’m not calling for children to be over-programmed. But if they are doing the equivalent of full-time days, then at least we can give them some variety and stimulation.

School holidays are another testing time for working parents. With upwards of 12 weeks of school holidays each year, but two working parents usually having access to at most a combined eight weeks (and only then if they never take a holiday together), bridging this gap is a continual source of stress. Children’s holiday’ programs are often expensive, hard to access, and with their disparate locations and hours put a further strain on family logistics.

Meanwhile for 12 weeks a year, school facilities sit largely unused. So why not open the schools during this period and offer school holiday programs from there, using external service providers?

No doubt any one of these suggested reforms throws up complex policy challenges and will involve taking on a number of vested interests who prefer the status quo. But governments should be brave enough to tackle such challenges directly, rather than tinkering around the edges with measures such as the child care subsidy.

We fundamentally need to rethink school if we are to make it easier for working parents to educate their children, earn a living, and balance work and family pressures. Stubborn adherence to the current school system is failing nearly everyone - children, parents, society and the economy at large.

Dave Sharma is the endorsed candidate for the seat of Wentworth which Turnbull abandoned when He was knifed by his party. He actually isn't the candidate the current PM wanted. Shows how much influence he has in his dysfunctional party. A good independent candidate with Labor preferences should beat him easily. Bring on a general election!