AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
PRESS RELEASE 378
27 April 2010
JULIA GILLARD and
ASSUMPTIONS UNDERLYING THE FUNDING REVIEW
Assumptions Underlying Julia Gillard’s Speech
Although Gillard entitled her speech A future fair for all: School funding in Australia, assumptions outlined in her speech ensured that current inequalities will not only remain entrenched, but be exacerbated. This is because she guaranteed existing funding levels and refused to analyse the major reason for current funding inequities: namely taxpayer funding to the tune of billions of dollars of entrenched discrimination on the basis of creed, class, culture and geographical location.
Instead, she promised to enforce consensus rather than confront the reason why the question of school funding has been used to divide the Australian community, to pit school against school and school system against school system.
It is a
pity that she does not have the intestinal fortitude to name and shame, not
poor disadvantaged schools and their pupils on a MySchool website but those
whom she claims to have argued against: those who she says have allowed
to be dominated by ideological questions that exercise only a small minority, or to use it instrumentally as a vehicle for a broader political agenda.
is correct. Educational funding in
Ms Gillard gives lip service to her objectives. She says that, instead of giving in to the ideological proclivities of minorities we should be
Building community consensus around the educational needs of our community – of today’s school students and tomorrow’s.
leaves the words hanging in a vacuum. She fails to note that immediately to
Recognition of Criticisms of the SES
possibilities inherent in Ms Gillard’s broad based introduction, the main text
of her speech indicates that
She believes that the ‘State Aid’ debate is dead. She assumes that the funding debate is about, not whether, but how funding is distributed to the myriad of private religious institutions that are now hanging off the Treasury apron strings.
Public school supporters might take heart from her criticism of the SES system which provides funding to non-government schools as a percentage of the average cost of educating a child in a government school.
DOGS have always criticised the use or rather the misuse of government school figures by the private sector. In fact, the last forty years of the history of State Aid has been one of misuse of statistics by the private sector, evidence enough of the lack of public accountability for public money. This is the inevitable result of privatisation and contracting out of essential public services. The use of the average cost derived from budget figures avoids the devil in the detail of incremental costs. Public school systems have always entered the expensive and uneconomic areas of educational provision. After all, their objective is the education of children, not profit margins.
Meanwhile, statistics quoted by the private religious sector avoids mention of the taxation expenditures in the form of taxation exemptions enjoyed by these institutions. Endowments, private donations and taxation exemption arrangements with parents and donors continue to be ignored. The reaction of the private sector to Ms Gillard’s speech indicates their determination that these figures should remain unexplored.
Mc Gillard has declared that
We must be prepared to examine the funding of all schools from all sources.
But when she refers to funding figures she only quotes the billions of taxpayer funds channelled through public treasuries.
government is continuing to avoid the big questions. Instead, Gillard merely
indicates awareness of the growing reaction within public school ranks. After
all, they represent the majority of parents throughout
In particular, public eduction advocates believe that because the system uses the average costs of public education as its base, every win for public education flows to non-government schools and public education can never make up ground.
They have also attacked the Rudd Government for sticking with a funding arrangement that they regard as flawed.
What Does Ms Gillard Have to Offer Supporters of Public Education?
Ms Gillard is merely offering a Committee with pre-arranged guidelines and an invitation to make submissions to it to public school supporters. She must think those of us who were around when the 1973 Whitlam /Beasley Schools Commission made nonsense of the ALP ‘Needs’ policy, have remembered nothing and learnt nothing.
Public school representatives have been taken for a four year ride by the Rudd government. They have no guarantee that the ride will not continue down the slippery slope of privatisation of public education.
Political Problem for Supporters of Public Education
of public education, although they represent the majority of children, parents
and teachers throughout
But the Australian political system is not a two party, but a three party system.
should analyse carefully what has recently occurred in
There is growing unrest at the blatant rorting of the public treasury and aggressive demands for ‘religious liberty’ by sectarian groups as they discriminate against children, parents and teachers on the basis of religious belief and ability to pay.
The High Court is once more being asked to consider the Section 116 and the issue of separation of religion and the state, and religious liberty now that Chaplains have been imposed on our State Schools.
DOGS suggest that if the major parties have abandoned the public school voting base in favour of minority sectarian interests, that base should leave them.
DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION AND STOP STATE AID TO PRIVATE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS.
Listen to the DOGS program
3CR, 855 on the A.M. dial
12 Noon Saturdays