SMH articles of interest:

  1. Teachers to quit funding trial, or, the Teachers’ Fed have another go at holding back educational reform. I suppose I should be pleased that the competition shoots itself in the foot, but I’ve never seen public education as the competition, more a necessity for a democratic society. Pity that, in NSW, if doesn’t act in the interests of society.
    Georges River College took part in a twoyear, state government-based devolution trial and is in the federal government’s Empowering Local Schools pilot program in which extra funding was provided. The NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, has refused to guarantee that school budgets would not be cut in future. The Sun-Herald last week revealed a groundswell of concern among principals that the program, which puts them in control of 70 per cent of the school budget, is a smokescreen for cost-cutting. In New York, schools have lost 13.7 per cent in funding since its system was devolved in 2007, while Victoria spends less per child on education since handing budgets over to principals.
    A teacher at Georges River College’s Oatley campus, Murray Blundell, said: ‘‘Anywhere in the world they have introduced systems like this it has been the first step to reducing government expenditure on education.’’Mate, that doesn’t make the idea wrong, just the implementation. And there’s that grand generalisation again – anywhere in the world. Where, precisely?
  2.  On a happier note, All smiles and primed for leap to big school talks about the benefits of an early intervention  program run by the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation for indigenous kids.
  3. I’m not sure what interest is served by this story (Labor funds for private schools still on the rise), notwithstanding the intervention of the NSW Secondary Principal’s Council. Gonski has no chance of implementation under the Tories, who will continue to skew the education system in favour of the haves. The have-nots will continue to be channeled into under-funded government schools. Labour, on the other hand, needs a lesson in its own ideological foundations.
  4. On precisely this issue, and forgive me for agreeing with that token mouthpiece for the Right, Paul Sheehan, it’s pretty clear that things can’t continue the way they are. We need more funding, especially in the public sector and the low-cost private sector (which really should be seen and accept the obligations of religiously-run state schools). We need an end to the selective system, which research shows does untold damage to students in those schools and in the comprehensive system; and we need structural reform to end the evil marriage between the bureaucracy of state education departments and the industrial inertia of teacher unionism. For the future of professionalism, the theology of the Fed is death.

To not care about lifting up the poor schools is to not care about the Australian ethos of egalitarianism. In these schools teachers routinely have to do heroic work to overcome the in-built disadvantages, and the biggest disadvantage is often the parents – or their absence. A friend of mine, a retired school principal, wrote to me after reading a recent column about our stratifying school system: ‘‘From my own experience of years in the private system and my 40 years in the public system, including 20 years as a high school principal, the real X-factor which is rarely prominently discussed – the elephant in the room – is not mainly money or autonomy. It is parents. ‘‘Whilst private schools and selective schools can separate their students from the undisciplined, the unmotivated, the dysfunctional, the irresponsible, the handicapped – the kids whose parents can’t or won’t exercise any control on them – we will continue to have a class system in our schools. ‘‘Until classroom teachers and state school executives have the power to set and enforce codes of conduct, discipline and application comparable to the powers taken for granted in private schools we will continue to have one system for the bright, ambitious and/or wealthy and one for the rest.’’