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Blue Lightning 30th November 2013 05:18 PM

In defence of Gonski
Tom Bentley writes in the Guardian in defence of the Gonski funding model for schools:



Pyne had clearly made a decision to go early, and go hard, in attacking a model of school funding that he has opposed at every step of its development. His confidence in doing so, despite the blatant breaking of public promises made during the 2013 election campaign, suggests that he believes he can disregard those commitments and win a political fight to change course. Public backing of Pyne by the prime minister, Tony Abbott, implies that this position is shared across the government.


By claiming a “unity ticket” with Labor over their four year commitment of $2.8bn, Abbott and Pyne were already misleading the public to believe that they were matching the formal agreements that had been struck ...

The fact that Pyne is prepared to proffer such a blatant untruth about this detail should give some clues as to what he says about the rest of the Gonski model.

While the details are complex, the core of the funding reform is simple. It takes as its starting point the fact that Australian parents can and should choose what kind of school to send their children to, and seeks to ensure that, wherever they do, the total public funding available for that child reflects their actual level of educational disadvantage. It uses consistent measures of student background, reported transparently, to ascertain that level of advantage, using an index called ICSEA. ...


So why would a new government take such a risk in ditching Gonski so early in its term? There are two reasons.

The first is ideology. Pyne is fiercely committed to a brand of liberalism that seeks to combine free market economics with an aggressive, conservative social morality. In this view, the bastions of left-wing culture and propaganda – including public schooling systems, education bureaucracies, teacher unions and woolly liberal thinkers – have held in place an educational orthodoxy which is a closet form of socialism, stifling true choice by families and obscuring the educational potential of millions of children.

It is perfectly consistent, therefore, to use funding and economics aggressively to attack public sector institutions, while using the power and authority of the state to promote and prescribe forms of social morality – "values" – that are prescriptive and traditional.

In order to prosecute this agenda, Pyne will likely populate key advisory positions in education institutions with a small coterie of advisers, such as Kevin Donnelly, who agree with his ideology and will advocate it as "common sense" thinking. Pyne hopes that by putting the small handful of people he actually trusts in charge of giving advice, he can redirect much larger activities and institutions, leading to culture change in classrooms.

The most successful purveyor of this ideological blend was Margaret Thatcher, who unleashed a revolution by privatising much of the British economy while preaching Victorian morals to those who would listen.

There's a lot more, and -IMO- it's worth a read.

Blue Lightning 30th November 2013 05:44 PM

Re: In defence of Gonski
More press on the Government's education funding back flip:


The federal government is looking to reduce the share of funding it provides to the public school sector, according to angry state and territory education ministers who faced off with Christopher Pyne at a “very heated” meeting on Friday.

Far from allaying concerns over the federal government’s decision to rewrite the David Gonski-inspired funding system next year, Friday’s face-to-face discussion has further stoked anger from both Liberal and Labor colleagues who are demanding assurances their states will not be disadvantaged for having signed deals with the former government.

In a show of force, the education ministers from jurisdictions that signed a deal – the conservative-led New South Wales and Victoria and Labor-run South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory – jointly fronted the media in Sydney to demand the government meet its election pledge to honour signed agreements on school funding.

The NSW education minister, Adrian Piccoli, led the attack on his federal Coalition colleagues, saying pointedly that the Abbott government had broken its election promises and the “parents of the millions of children” had a right to be disappointed.

“The government made a promise, made a commitment, that there would be no broken promises under the government that they lead, and unfortunately that has not come to pass,” Piccoli said.

Pyne said this week he would match the $1.6bn total extra federal funding budgeted by Labor over the next four years ...


States that signed up fear they will lose out in a redistribution of funding after 2014 as part of Pyne’s yet-to-be-developed new funding model.
Piccoli said there was uncertainty over who would bear the loss of any reduction in funding in the three years after 2014, revealing Pyne made comments “that would presume that that loss will have to be borne by public schools”.


Piccoli added: “I think that’s quite an incredible outcome, if reduced funding for states only comes out of public schools, not out of non-government schools.”

Again, there's lots more to read in that link.

As others have observed, it's heartening that we have NSW and Victorian Liberals standing up to Pyne. That, together with the fact that Gonski is a serious business leader and Katherine Griener was also on the Gonski panel (both hardly leftie socialist radicals), makes it very much harder for the Federal conservatives to spin it.

wolty 30th November 2013 09:33 PM

Re: In defence of Gonski

Blue Lightning said (Post 428855)

As others have observed, it's heartening that we have NSW and Victorian Liberals standing up to Pyne. That, together with the fact that Gonski is a serious business leader and Katherine Griener was also on the Gonski panel (both hardly leftie socialist radicals), makes it very much harder for the Federal conservatives to spin it.

It is a scary situation BL. And not going to get better any time soon.

Sieveboy 2nd December 2013 09:44 AM

Re: In defence of Gonski
Adrian Piccoli has shown himself over time to be an interesting politician, when he was elected he toed that conservative line pretty well. But with examples such as ethics classes and now the Gonski funding model, he has shown he can be a bit more even handed. I might have to watch this space.

DanDare 7th December 2013 11:58 PM

Re: In defence of Gonski
My daughter graduated high school this year, from the Queensland Academy of Maths Science and Technology, a sate school.

Public education is massively important to my mind. The Libs are trying to destroy it. The fundies are trying to infiltrate it. Who are the fighters defending and improving it?

Blue Lightning 25th May 2014 09:56 AM

Re: In defence of Gonski
Here is a link to the full text of David Gonski's speech at the University of Melbourne, which attracted a lot of media coverage through the week, especially in relation to his criticisms of the commission of audit and the budget.

He commenced by saying why he did not regret having been involved in the review. Among several reasons was these, which resonates with me:


This importance of education is a good segway into my third point as to why I don’t regret being involved in the review.

Whether those who chose me to chair the review knew it or not I have always been aware that education has played an enormous role in the wellbeing of my immediate family.

My grandfather did not have much, if any, school education and he suffered from this detriment for his entire life.

An intelligent man of humour and interest in culture and life he sold linen and cloth to keep his family. They didn’t starve but they did struggle. He and his wife wished to ensure that their children had a good education. The direct result of this was that my father rather than selling linen became a brain surgeon.

The contrast between the life my father led and his father’s and the contribution to society he was able to make remains deeply in my mind as proof of what school and tertiary education can do for the individual and for their society.

My life I might say was also improved by my father’s education and I am very conscious of that ...
Also of interest is that, in the context of a question about regrets, Gonski explained, in a few paragraphs, the essence of what his recommendations were, and how some of the media coverage has been skewed:


A further question that I am asked is do I regret any part of what we said in the review?

Let me start by saying no document is ever perfect. However two years on I think our analysis has stood up to scrutiny. Some may disagree with aspects and conclusions but I’m not aware of any major holes that have been found.

If I have a regret it is the decision which we took to include in the report calculations of what our suggestions on a new school resource standard were likely to cost.

Ironically not many of the words of the review covered this – but I and my colleagues felt having outlined a new funding formula and having done a lot of work in costing it that we should show what we had done. This we felt would evidence the depth of the analysis we had undertaken.

We also wanted, by noting the amount, to put it into context. We knew that the additional cost to governments which we noted was $5 billion based on the 2009 numbers was a large number but we also knew that it was an increase of just under 15% of all government recurrent funding for schooling that year. We also knew that it was less than 0.5% of the gross domestic product of Australia for that year.

Our calculations were based on our terms of reference and the announcement of the government of the time that “no school will lose a dollar per student as a result of the review”.

Obviously on that basis any change we proposed to existing funding of necessity would involve more money. If you have a cake and the portions are already divided, if you want to give more to any you need additional cake!

In retrospect, the decision to mention the number clouded the entire response to our review. Major media outlets talked of further billions for education and no doubt those who had to find the amount were very bluntly reminded of what was involved.

In fact our review was more subtle than an ask just for more money.

Lost in the discussion for more money were the central tenets of our review.

We advocated:-

A. Funding to be unified i.e. Given by state and federal governments to the different sectors together rather than states substantially only funding their school system and the bulk of commonwealth funding being as a consequence paid to independent and faith based schools.

B. We wanted a transparent method for determining funding which was based on aspirational educational outcomes rather than last year’s costs. We saw the AGSRC as rather an opaque formula/calculation based on historic costs without a necessary focus on what was sought as to outcomes.

C. We wanted to lock in formulas for a period of time so that those operating school systems and schools themselves would be able to plan on a longer term basis.

D. We advocated a funding system based on need.

One of the easiest decisions we were able to take is what we as a review team believed “equity” should mean in determining a suitable funding system in Australia.

We felt strongly and unanimously that a funding system must ensure that differences in educational outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions.

Flowing from this a funding system based on need was both obvious and important.

E. We suggested five groups of disadvantage for which we felt there was a need for loadings to be made in any resource funding system. We found this task relatively easy and I believe what we came up with is correct. The concept of loadings for low socioeconomic; disabled; indigenous; those who don’t have

English as their first language and those who live in remote areas covered what we saw as the areas of need and where we believed improvement could be made if money was available.

I note that the actual amount of the loadings is a more difficult area and we acknowledged in the text of our report that they were put as a guide and that different views may prevail as to how each should be weighted.

F. We advocated that all sectors should receive government funding. We believed this is right both in principle and based on history and practice. We felt that state schools systems and special schools should be funded to the level of 100% of any calculated school resource standard. The level of funding (between 20% and 90%) given to other systems and schools we believed should be based on a concept of capacity to charge fees (as distinct from what fees were actually charged).
We suggested reluctantly retention of the same system as was being used then which in turn was based on socioeconomic standing from area census figures. We were however open to finding an alternative over time to the SES approach.

G. We advocated some independence of governments and designated sectors in the determination of formulas once the aspiration had been conceived and agreed upon as the basis for the relevant school funding resource component.

We felt this was a good governance tool so that no allegations could be made that calculations were opaque and indeed correct in their calculation.

I should add we suggested that aspirations should change over time. Our suggested aspiration to get started was a benchmark that at least 80% of students achieve above the national minimum standard in both reading and numeracy across the three most recent years of NAPLAN results.

Approximately only 1600 of the 10,000 schools achieved this at the time of our numbers ...
He was praising of the Commonwealth and some state public servants involved in education policy and the steps that had been taken to implement his review of the last two years. Then he got down to, mostly subtly, disagreeing with the Abbott government, its Commission of Review and its budget:


One of the most satisfying hours I have spent in the last 12 months was attending at their invitation a meeting with the department of education in New South Wales. There a well prepared and thought through presentation given by senior members of that department put up on the screen the essence of our proposed needs based approach and demonstrated that so much of it has and is being implemented in New South Wales.

I am aware that other states of Australia have also started to move in full or part towards that end.

So whilst money was the headline some of our basic recommendations have and are seeing the light of day. As to the money it seems guaranteed to 2017 and I am pleased with that. However the question is what happens then. The budget of last week seems to follow the suggestion by the commission of audit that after 2017 funding be based on indexed increases of 2017 funding. This is unfortunate and I will discuss it further later in this paper. I sincerely hope that in the period between now and 2017 the federal government will change the presently budgeted position.


My biggest regret with the views of the commission is their suggestion that the funding of 2018 should be based on 2017 funding indexed depending on changes in the CPI and the relevant wage price index.

So the concept of aspiration (or indeed their concept of efficiency) ends in 2017 and from then on funding increases by indexes not specifically related to changes in costs in education. If the funding be wrong in 2017 it will be perpetuated and if circumstances and aspirations change after that date they will be presumably irrelevant. No doubt this is simple but like a lot that is simple it is not adequate.

I am surprised the commission didn’t, given that it was seeking to save monies for the commonwealth, accept our suggestions but question one of the tenets we were given, namely that all schools should receive the same as what they were receiving per student prior to the new resource …
:D This is wonderful, and perhaps not so subtle.

It should be noted that, generally, the Commonwealth funds private schools and the states funds the public schools. If Commission of Audit really was interested in saving Commonwealth cost, where would have looked?

The answer to Gonski's rhetorical question, as he well knows, is “because they and the current government aren't going to affect the privileged”, are they?


Embracing the concept of needs based aspirational funding in an environment of wanting to save money would be better served in my view by concentrating on that aspect rather than seeking to go backwards to resourcing based on historic figures indexed which is effectively what we had prior to 2014.

As I said earlier, I hope that the federal government will for the reasons referred to above re-consider overtime the position taken in the budget papers in respect of school funding after 2017.
Worth a read in full :thumbsup:

Blue Lightning 31st May 2014 09:09 AM

Re: In defence of Gonski

Blue Lightning said (Post 470890)
… The answer to Gonski's rhetorical question, as he well knows, is “because they and the current government aren't going to affect the privileged”, are they? ...

Just as Pyne now confirms:


Education Minister Christopher Pyne has told Christian school leaders that his government has an ''emotional commitment'' to private schools, prompting fears the Abbott government will abandon public schools.

Speaking at a Christian Schools Australia national policy dinner in Canberra this week, Mr Pyne assured the school leaders he did not want to sever long-held ties with Christian and independent schools.

''I want to have a direct relationship with the non-government sector, as I believe we have had since 1963,'' Mr Pyne said. ''Having talked to the Prime Minister about this matter many times, it is his view that we have a particular responsibility for non-government schooling that we don't have for [state] government schooling.''

Mr Pyne assured the Christian schools he could not ''see those circumstances changing''.


The president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, Lila Mularczyk, warned that Mr Pyne's comments signalled a commitment to directly fund non-government schools at the expense of public schools.

''Students most in need of additional learning support have seen Minister Pyne turn his back on them again,'' Ms Mularczyk said.

''We cannot rest easy when the educational gaps between schools, and often schooling systems, are entrenched and will grow because of a dismissive, dangerous budget and an Education Minister who openly claims to be emotionally driven in maintaining a relationship with the non-government sector.''

The Australian Education Union deputy federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said Mr Pyne's ''divisive view of schools'' was contrary to the needs-based principles of the Gonski funding model. Ms Haythorpe said federal funding of government schools was crucial to the quality and equity of the schools system.



Darwinsbulldog 31st May 2014 10:03 AM

Re: In defence of Gonski
I am a bit of a fascist about education. Not one fucking cent of government funding for non-government schools. Non-government schools are about profit or religion or both, and these things are not the concern of education.

The money saved from being siphoned off into the private education sector can be used to raise teacher salaries and conditions, improve teacher and education & performance, modernize equipment & libraries, create smaller class sizes, etc, etc.

The privileged and religious can go fuck themselves. We no more need private education than we need feudal honours and ranks. Let the "old school tie" be a thing of history, and merit and equity become the future.

DanDare 31st May 2014 04:13 PM

Re: In defence of Gonski
Further need for a like button in the forum software.

Blue Lightning 4th September 2016 10:30 PM

Re: In defence of Gonski
I'll just park this here -

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