FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS - D.O.G.S.
PRESS RELEASE 219 #.
23 AUGUST 2007
STATE AID FUNDING UNTRUTHS
POLITICIANS, BUREAUCRATS, ACADEMICS AND THE PRESS
ALLOWING PRIVATE SCHOOL OPERATORS AND SUPPORTERS TO
POLITICIANS, BUREAUCRATS, ACADEMICS AND THE PRESS
ALLOWING PRIVATE SCHOOL OPERATORS AND SUPPORTERS TO
Public school supporters must take the initiative in relation to the untruths peddled by the Australian media and private school interests.
Either the New South Wales Teachers Federation or the Australian Education Union should immediately obtain a proper funding analysis including comparative incremental costs ( marginal costs) and taxation expenditures ( taxation exemptions) enjoyed by the private sector. This is the only way that supporters of public education will be able to meet the onslaught of false propaganda in relation to education funding.
Such a study was done in 2004 and on the basis of DOGS assessment that an abolition of State Aid to church schools would lead to a saving of at least $2.4 billion in recurrent costs per annum, not an increase of $4.2 billion an annum.
This assessment did not include indirect grants. Capital costs should also be handled separately.
This last week the unknowing general public have been subjected to the peddling of State Aid untruths such as "private school save taxpayers $5 billion. Once more the mainstream media, including the Australian and The Age have swallowed this propaganda hook line and sinker. Instead of carrying out their own investigative journalism, the media have again misled citizens on the State Aid issue.
The Australian leads the pack with a News Item on the 20 August 2007, an advertorial masked as an editorial on the 22 August 2007 entitled "Do Your Own Homework: Get the Maths Right on private versus public Education" and an article by the usual suspect, Kevin Donnelly, entitled "Class Warriors Hold on to Envy" on 21 August 2007.
The Press, politicians and priests have been able to present a grossly inaccurate accounting of educational funding by ignoring comparative and incremental educational costing together with indirect funding - for more than 30 years.
The Church school faction, with the assistance of politicians and state and federal education bureaucrats, have failed (knowingly or unknowingly) to reveal the two basic flaws in their cost-saving theory. Consider the following:
Abolition of State Aid leads to Taxpayer Saving ! ? !
In 2004 Mark Drummond ( who at that time sent his own children to Catholic schools ) in research for his PhD estimated that the average marginal cost for educating each individual child in the public system is approximately $4,500.00 per pupil. Assuming that one fifth of the pupils in the private religious sector would not shift across to the public sector, DOGS estimated that this would lead to an increase in costs of $3.96 billion. However, in 2004, the State and Federal Governments were providing Church schools with $5,800.00 per pupil in direct grants alone. This did not account for indirect grants enjoyed by church schools but not public schools. They possess this favoured treatment by virtue of the fact that under our tax system they are categorised as "charities."On the basis of the direct grants cost alone, the inclusion of four fifths of the private church school pupils in the public sector would yield a saving to taxpayers of $2. 4 billion, not an increased cost of $4.2 billion.
If the indirect grants were also calculated, the saving would be considerably greater.
DOGS refer readers to Press Release 98 at www.adogs.info/pr98.htm published in September /October 2004.
Four Decade Battle to Use Comparative and Incremental Costing:
Since shortly after the re-introduction of State Aid to church schools in the 1960s, DOGS have attempted to obtain comparative and incremental costing in educational statistics. Politicians and government educational bureaucrats and heads of so-called independent committees have been informed again and again about the fundamental economic weakness in the pro-state aid funding arguments. Every decade since the introduction of State Aid to Church schools, these persons have failed to reveal incremental costing.
The following are some of the DOGS attempts to obtain this information:
1. Extracts from DOGS Submission to the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission 1973
p. 6 Investigate thoroughly assertions made by church officials...a mere assertion of "need" does not constitute a mandate for government subsidy. ...no argument from the church schools should be taken as true, each argument should be thoroughly investigated, otherwise the Commission could easily be misled.
p. 8 Īnvestigate and assess accurately the comparative costs of the state and church school systems. It is sad to relate that State and Federal politicians are producing inaccurate statistical data aided and encouraged by "religious men" and their hired servants. No-one can place much confidence in the politically motivated comparative figures supplied by Mr M. Fraser, former Education Minister or his counterpart in Victoria, Mr. L.H. Thompson, for they fail to provide accurate comparative costs.
With the aid of a computer the Commission should be able to :
i. accurately assess and report comparative costs of the two systems.
ii. assess the cost of one system of education as against the dual (private ) system of education
(b) in areas where schools are already established
(c) in new, developing areas.
iii. produce more meaningful comparisons, if it broke down the statistical data to provide the following:
(a) the cost of various types of schools - e.g. primary, high and technical
(b) the cost of various sizes of schools, ranging from the small country schools to the largest city schools.
(c) the cost of setting up and running a new school compared with the cost of an established school
d) incremental cost analysis :
the cost of adding one or more children to these various types and sizes of schools. It is absurd to claim, as is presently done by the politicians and churchmen that to add one or a number of children to the state school system is obtained by multiplying the number of children to be added to the state school system by the average cost per child.
2. Extracts from DOGS Submission to Federal Parliamentarians 10 November 1982
p. 8 Failure to Provide Accurate and Detailed Costing of Government School Education:
State Aid has also corroded accountability and the possibility of accountability in the Government School sector. Unfortunately for the taxpayers and Government school supporters, in an attempt to protect and cover up the Government's policy on State Aid, there is nearly a total lack of accurate and detailed financial data on Government School education to examine the true cost of State Aid and the true cost of Government School education. The lack of information leads to inaccurate assertions about the cost of Government School education by those politicians and churchmen who promote and favour State Aid. It also handicaps those citizens who wish to defend the Government School system.
In Victoria for example, it has reached the ridiculous position where the then Shadow Minister for Education, Mr Fordham, was allowed to look at figures relating to the calculation of Recurrent costs of Government School education used in the calculation for State-Aid funding, however he was duty bound to not even reveal what he saw to the parliament or even his Parliamentary colleagues. (Victorian Hansard, November 20, 1980, p. 3241.
( DOGS HOPE THAT READERS WILL LOOK CAREFULLY AT THIS LAST PARAGRAPH AND CONTEMPLATE WHAT IT REALLY MEANS FOR OUR DEMOCRACY, PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY AND MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY. THIS WAS IN 1980. IF ANYTHING THINGS HAVE ONLY GOT WORSE BECAUSE THE CHURCH SCHOOL TAIL IS WAGGING THE PARLIAMENTARY DOG!)
p. 8 Government Education Costs Lacking
Taking Victoria as an example, because we have no reason to believe that any other State would be much better- probably worse, the annual Victorian Education report is simply not adequate. What is required is a separate line by line analysis of the cost of State education by size of school, type of school, ( primary, secondary, technical, special) area of school ( city and country). In these days of computers the annual cost of running each government school should be available with no trouble whatever. This information was available over a hundred years ago. There is absolutely no reason why present day Minister should be any less responsible than their predecessors of over a hundred years ago. Quite the reverse.
Information should also be available to establish
i,. the incremental pupil cost
ii. the cost of educating every child in a Government School in any State or territory.
If these figures were available, promoters of State-Aid like the present Federal Minister for Education, Senator P.Baume, would be less able to push outdated, in accurate and misleading comparisons as he has done in recent times. e.g. $940 spent on non-government school child, and $1974 spent on a government school child.
The Minister deliberately releases these figures to allow Church School supporters to produce fictitious savings.
p. 9. Such comparisons are grossly misleading for many reasons:
For example, government school operate in the more uneconomic areas.
i. In Australia ( 1980s) the government school system provides over 1340 Primary Schools which have less than 35 pupils while church schools only operate 154 such schools.
ii. Government schools educate far more of the slow learners, difficult and underachievers among the school population.
The present lack of public accountability for State-Aid represents a total abdication and abnegation of parliamentary accountability. One of the major roles of Parliament in a democracy is to control and account for the spending of the taxpayers' dollar. Clearly, there has been a complete breakdown of this role in the area of Government Aid to Church Schools. This was predictable. As the U.S. Supreme Court said:
ITS (ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE) FIRST AND MOST IMMEDIATE PURPOSE RESTED ON THE BELIEF THAT A UNION OF GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION TENDS TO DESTROY GOVERNMENT AND TO DEGRADE RELIGION.
(from the opinion of the United State Supreme Court in Engle v Vitale and Abington v Schempp )
Politicians Sitting on a Time Bomb:
If elected representatives of the people allow themselves to be led by the nose by greedy churchmen when a billion dollars is at stake - which could grow fairly swiftly into billions of dollars of public money, they are leaving themselves wide open.
Refusal to provide information, private agreements and interchanges between government and church officials in the corridors of power are, in the final analysis exceedingly dangerous for politicians who wish to be seen to be beyond reproach.
The total absence of detailed, accurate school by school, financial government school education costs is leading to :
The scandalous state of educational funding in Australia is no accident. It is, in part, due to the fact that lack of information assists those who are in favour of state aid - politicians and churchmen. It also handicaps those interested in upholding basic democratic institutions and beliefs - in particular, the government public school system, ministerial responsibility and accountability for public money.
3. Submission to the Victorian State Board of Education 18 July 1983
DOGS wrote a letter dated July 18 1983 to the newly formed Victorian State Board of Education members. This Board was chaired by Dr. Ken McKinnon who had not been re-appointed to the federal Schools Commission. He had been replaced by Professor Peter Darcy Tannock who went on to even higher things within the Roman Catholic Education system. He is now closely associated with the Notre Dame University in Western Australia and New South Wales.
This letter was part of the submission of the Council for the Defence of Government School (Victoria) to the State Board of Education opposing State Aid to Church Schools.
As nothing had been done by Peter Karmel, Ken McKinnon , federal or state politicians, educational bureaucrats or religious administrators since our submission in 1973, DOGS repeated parts of the earlier submission mentioned above. It should also be noted that the Secretary of the New South Wales DOGS, Joyce Jones had made yearly submissions to the Schools Commission complaining about their lack of consistency and proper accountability.
CALL TO SUPPORTERS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION TO OBTAIN THEIR OWN COMPARATIVE AND INCREMENTAL COSTS DATA
Public education and its supporters should realise, like DOGS, that public education is being taken to the cleaners in this and other matters. It is far past the time to recognise that politicians and bureaucrats in the thrall of the church school lobby will not present correct analysis of the funding situation.
It is time that the teacher unions and parents groups in particular the New South Wales Teachers Federation and the Federal AEU employ their own statisticians/economists to produce the correct figures as an answer to church school propaganda and untruths.
DOGS are too willing to be consulted in this matter because we have been agitating for proper accountability and comprehensive statistics for forty years. It should have been done forty years ago, but when the DOGS tried to provide anything like the correct figures they were hounded out of the mainstream media.
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AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
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