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School funding inequality blamed on ‘sneaky’ Labor

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The Educator | 29 Sep 2016, 10:15 AM Agree 0
The Federal Government says Labor is to blame for current inequities in the nation’s education system.
  • Maureen Hartung | 29 Sep 2016, 01:02 PM Agree 0
    It's time, school funding-wise, to consider a new hybrid of fully-funded community schools, that combine the strengths of government/public and non-government/private schools. Why is Australia one of the few countries in the world that does not yet support community groups, e.g. teachers, establishing fully-funded community schools in response to an unmet local community need. This would offer genuine diversity of affordable schooling options, and ensure that students' differing educational needs could be catered for. The current funding model continues to use postcodes of families (SES) to determine need - despite Gonski recommending finding an alternative to the SES as an urgent next step. Most schools are being funded outside the current formula anyway, so that claims about the formula's efficacy are illusory. Inequities continue, e.g. our students receive half the funding subsidy of all our neighbouring schools, despite serving the same community and taking many students with additional needs (47%). If we're serious about cultivating the talents and strengths of every child so that they make a positive contribution to our community, we need targeted schooling diversity. Let's think outside the square (or triangle of government/Catholic/independent schooling), and explore new possibilities, e.g. hybrid community schools that are fully-funded and target an unmet community need. Want innovation? Then let's trial fully-funded community schools!
    Maureen Hartung OAM
    Executive Director
    Blue Gum Community School
    Canberra
  • Dr Michael Furtado | 29 Sep 2016, 10:45 PM Agree 0
    The global machinery for fully-funded community schools already exists within every OECD country with the exception of Australia and the United States. Until Federation all Australian schools were denominational and funded on the basis of parental demand for their schools. As it is Catholic schools universally are set up at parental behest as the Church teaches that parents are the first educators. Indeed, the history of state schooling is a relatively recent product of the last century or so, prior to which the Church and other bodies were the major sponsors of schooling. As a result, all Catholic schools in all other equivalent OECD countries are fully funded alongside secular and other schools auspiced by philanthropic bodies with long histories of educational provision. Indeed, one of the major arguments for community schools is that they counteract remote and centralising impetuses in education instead of drawing parents and local communities into subsidiarist (or localised) school management practice in which they operate as partners with teachers. In NZ, for instance, all schools have parental management boards and, unsurprisingly, all Catholic schools are part of such a public (as opposed to private) provision. Australia should defund all high-fee independent schools, as obtains throughout the OECD, and bring all other schools into a more variegated, fee-free, open-access, community-oriented public sector that is localised and more in touch with a diversity of community values. This would enhance local accountability, improve results, offer parents a choice without having to pay for it and free up funding for disadvantaged kids.
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