AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
PRESS RELEASE 425
April 17, 2011
TREVOR COBBOLD EXPOSES PUBLIC EDUCATION
DISADVANTAGE BUT REMAINS AMBIGUOUS ABOUT TAXPAYER
FUNDING OF SECTARIAN EDUCATION
Trevor Cobbold of SOS has published a learned article on education funding in Dissent magazine for Autumn/Winter,2011 ( pp 13-18. His recommendations for funding changes assume taxpayer funding of private, religious institutions, yet some of his arguments indicate the DOGS time honoured position of ‘No State Aid” for sectarian schools.
For example, on page 17 he writes,
People do not pay taxes in order to get some of it returned to them. Taxes are raised for public purposes, to provide public services and to redistribute income.
Families are not entitled to a taxpayer subsidy if they use their backyard pool rather than the municipal pool, if they use taxis instead of public transport, or if they use burglar alarms instead of relying on police patrols.
However, he uses, the ‘redistribute income’ objective rather than the ‘provision of public services’ argument to advocate the position that
‘Funding for private schools should be determined by education need’
And continues to advocate the following :
An alternative funding model for private schools would consist of baseline and equity components. Baseline funding would ensure that no private school has less total resources than government schools and would vary according to the social inclusiveness of their enrolment practices. For example, schools which charge high fees would receive less funding as would schools that do not have a comprehensive curriculum that includes teaching evolution and sex education.
The equity component would provide additional funding for low-income, indigenous, remote area and disability students. Private schools with higher proportions of these students would receive more funding.
DOGS appreciate and commend Trevor Cobbold for his sterling work as a financial analyst and his exposure of the inequities in current educational funding. However, they are startled to discover his extraordinary naivety when it comes to dealing with the sectarian sector.
The past forty eight years have witnessed the defeat by sectarian interests of all attempts to introduce any government funding policies based on need. The DOGS have attempted time and again to expose the rorting of the system by religious interests whose objectives are power, money and the well-being of children in that order.
Trevor Cobbold and those representing public school interests would do well to follow the reasoning that public funds should be used for public, not private education . And that public education should be public in purpose, outcome, access, ownership, control, funding, accountability and provision.
These basic principles were hammered out in the second half of the nineteenth century. They were compromised when public funding of the private sectarian sector recommenced in the 1960s. The Needs policy introduced by the Labor Government in 1973 was compromised from the beginning and the current inequities are a result of the basic objectives of sectarian education – which is to divide children on the basis of class, creed, culture and the ability to pay.
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