National Day of Action for Public Education

There’s a lot at stake over the next few months in the countdown to the Gonski panel’s final advice on schools funding. That advice, and the Government’s response, could determine the long-term future of schooling across Australia and, in particular, the nature and quality of public schooling in this country. (J.F. McMorrow ‘Real Reform in Schools Funding’ paper Sept. 2011)

A wealth of material is available to learn more about the Gonski review into schools funding, including the paper quoted above. The review is due for release in December, and while the (one month!) period for submitting formal responses has closed, there is one last opportunity to have a say on the issue of schools funding.

I have written before about the Gonski Review, but am sorry to admit that I did not enter a submission when they were called for earlier in the year.

As luck would have it, however, the Australian Education Union has organised a special website for people like me (and maybe you) to lodge their view:

It’s quick and easy to show your support for Public Education in Australia by signing the petition on the site.  If you want to do more, you can join as a supporter to “tell us why investing more in public schools is so important”. Whichever you choose, you should do this TOMORROW, Tuesday 16th November, the National Day of Action for Public Education:

There has been very little public conversation about this issue in my circles – as Darcy Moore pointed out to Stephen Downes in October.  I fear that many teachers that are passionate about Public Education are weary from years of arguing about equity, only to see nothing change.  The approach of telling people how unfair things are just hasn’t worked so far.  Explaining how big the funding gap really is hasn’t worked so far.  Arguing that diverse student populations produce better educational outcomes than homogenous ones hasn’t worked so far.  The idea that parents should be ‘free to choose’ is too appealing, and sounds too much like ‘common sense’.  But, for those inclined to look beyond their own backyard, and to the society at large, it is clear to see the devastating impact that ‘school choice’ has had on the wider community. While we continue the charade of ‘meritocracy’, the current schools funding model has continued to deliver a system in which learning facilities and access to knowledge and social status can be bought by those with means.  When that is the case, it’s hard not to enter the discourse of class wars, don’t you think?

This is not just about class wars, however.  A summary of public views put forward collected by the Australian College of Educators observes that “Australia’s approach of providing funding as an entitlement to the independent sector is not the standard approach of most OECD countries”.  And yet, this question of measuring Australia’s financial commitment to education against other OECD nations was seen to be largely absent from public debate.

As for me, I support a substantial increase in funding to public schools, and a narrowing of the resource gap between public and independent sectors.  I do not support policies that position families with means as being entitled to more educational choice than others.  Tonight I will be adding my voice to the For our Future website, and wishing for a future where the support, learning and success of all students is priority number one for politicians and citizens alike.

I hope you will join me.

  1. #1 by Rebecca Wolkenstein on November 15, 2011 - 12:35 pm

    Australians don’t believe in class. They don’t want to admit how much better off they are being middle class than poor. Admitting there is a gap would cause the Australian National Identity fall to bits.

    • #2 by kmcg2375 on November 15, 2011 - 10:49 pm

      Perhaps…but it only takes a stroll through one of the elite private schools of this country to see the plain and simple truth – that some people who have a lot of money think that they deserve a more luxurious lifestyle than their fellow citizens.

      Heck, maybe they do.

      But what troubles me most is what happens to people who are schooled in that system. Make no mistake – their choices are as narrowed as those of the poorer classes. You don’t want to get good at tennis? Unlucky for you. You don’t want tutoring? Too bad. People are laughing at your straw hat? Well, that’s character building! It just so happens than, albeit narrow, the life choices that are available at the end of schooling to those with means are pretty desirable, by (too) many public standards.

  2. #3 by Rebecca Wolkenstein on November 16, 2011 - 9:06 am

    It might be time to look at social and cultural capital as primary means of mobility? Economic capital is seen as the silver bullet. Your post today about curriculum could be one method of solving the mobility problem.

  1. Dear Mr Gonski « Kelli McGraw

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