The biggest review of schools funding in over 30 years is almost over.
I was number 5126 to join the For our Future website tonight.
Here’s what I wrote in my message to the Gonski review panel:
There can be no serious attempt to argue that the current education system in Australia is socially just. With the exercising of ‘choice’ in education increasingly being seen as a feature of responsible parenting the provision of education is becoming even more stratified.
Government policy has been instrumental in encouraging the allowance of parental ‘choice’, giving parents ability to seek the school that will provide the greatest level of ‘excellence’ for their child. A need to invest in excellence based on the manufactured concern about the decline in standards in public education has meant an increase in Government funding of private schools to enable more parents to have the option of ‘choosing’ a private education for their children. This has led to the creation of a dualistic, market oriented education system, where public and private schools compete for enrolments and for Government funding, and ideas about what an ‘excellent’ education really consists of are distorted in order to lure ‘consumers’.
Despite public perception, it is not my belief however that a private education is a ‘better’ education, or that education in specialist schools such as selective or performing arts schools is more beneficial to the students who attend them. In fact inequity in education is diminishing the educational experience of these students by creating schools that lack diversity and encouraging social reproduction. It is not just a matter of the ‘poor local public schools’ being at a disadvantage because of lack of resources, funding and staff, but ALL students being disadvantaged by a curriculum that is too narrow and largely exam driven, and which therefore cannot develop fully the talents and capacities of many students.
It is largely the marketisation of the education system that has resulted in competition between schools, which lowers the standard of educational experience for all. The idea that schools should be striving for ‘excellence’ and the threat of falling enrolments and possible school closure if schools do not demonstrate themselves as achieving this ‘excellence’, has led to a dramatic rise in focus on NAPLAN results and Year 12 exit credentials, and exaggerated interest in comparing schools’ performance. The result is a decrease in the ability of ALL schools to provide a holistic, democratic and inclusive curriculum that caters to the needs of individual students and values diversity.
It is for these reasons that I argue the need for a substantial increase in funding to public schools, as well as a radical reduction in the proportion of funds made available to non-government schools in future funding models.
I was taught in public schools, and I have been a public school teacher. There are many of us out there who are loyal to the democratic values of public education, and will not falter in our support of this system. Please invest in us – we won’t let you down.
Before it’s too late, join parents, teachers and principals from around Australia and send a final message to the head of the review, Mr David Gonski, about the importance of investing more in our public schools.