MAY 5, 2011




DOGS note with interest that their submission to the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling has not yet made it to the website.

Meanwhile, he is putting off the day of reckoning with another issues paper in about August 2011 and a ‘comprehensive program of research.’ Gonski and his political masters can either confront or cave in to sectarian interests as they attempt to walk through a social, political and ideological minefield. If they cave in the vast majority of children in the public sector will suffer most grievously.

There have been two Communiqués in the last two months. A third communiqué was issued on 8 March 2011 and a fourth on 29 April 2011.

In the third communiqué he indicated the need for ‘a solid evidence base for the panel’s recommendations,’ and referred to the ‘many concerns around the current funding arrangements for schooling.’

1.    He also referred to the fact that the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) was finalizing its report to the panel on the current processes for funding disadvantaged students at the Australian Government and state and territory levels across all schooling sectors.

2.    The Allen Consulting Group was said to the ‘scoping the potential value of a schooling resource standard or benchmark in new funding arrangements.

3.    Access Economics is also assessing existing Australian Government and state and territory government funding models and methods.

4.    A further research project is intended to document the opportunities and challenges Australia faces in improving educational outcomes for all students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This will be done by a consortium led by the Nous Group which also includes the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and the National Institute of Labour Studies.

The results of all this research will form the basis of the August Issues Paper and be accompanied by the publication of this research.

DOGS note that none of the research indicates an interest in historical as well as statistical research. Does Gonski seriously believe that he can ‘neutralise’ the public funding of sectarian education debate with experts presenting allegedly ‘neutral’ research.

Meanwhile, Brian Croke, the executive director of the Catholic Education Commission of New South Wales and deputy chair of the National Catholic Education Commission has published an interesting article in the Australian of 29 April, p. 12 – the same day of the Gonski committee’s fourth communiqué.

He is aware and even prepared to admit that the SES model has reached its used-by date. His concern is that its detractors will now withdraw the overfunding which the Catholic sector enjoyed for its institutions under Howard’s ‘guarantee’ of ‘funding maintenance’.

He argues that ‘If a school is considered overfunded in 2011 then it must logically have been overfunded as early as 1984 and asks:

Why did no one claim such schools were being overfunded then? They were not then, nor are they now.

This is where Brian Croke should either stop dissembling or not betray his ignorance. In 1984 there were two dissenting reports to the School’s Commission funding program for Catholic and so-called independent schools. They were produced by the Australian Teachers Union representative, Van Davy, and State School Parents representative Joan Brown issued dissenting reports and the cosy agreement between the private and public sector split open. That was the beginning of the end of the Schools Commission.

At least Chris Bonner, in his comments on school funding in The Drum of 31 January 2011 is prepared to go back to the 1960s.

Knowing where the needs lie is only half the battle. Over the last half century we’ve managed to conjure up all manner of reasons why we need to publicly fund and grow a socially selective private sector to operate alongside public schools which must serve all students in all locations without condition.

In the 1960s we needed to bring Catholic schools up to the standard of public schools. Then we extended funding to all non-government schools, but rationed it according to need. Fifteen years ago we began to see and describe the funding of private schools as an entitlement to parents in their capacity as taxpayers, sidestepping the somewhat alarming social and fiscal ramifications.

Chris Bonner still appears to believe that it was and still is possible to provide equality of educational opportunity by funding both a public and private sector. However, a growing number of Australian citizens, including members of the DOGS understand that you cannot have equality of educational opportunity for children so long as institutions with a policy of exclusion , and the objective of the first class ticket to heaven and the good job are subsidized at public expense.









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