Editorial: Fair Funding Now!
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 7, 5 October 2018, page no. 5
The principles and history of the Fair Funding Now! campaign are fairly simple.
- Every child has a right to a good education, the opportunity to reach their full potential.
- That right is not dependent on their background or the circumstances of family.
- The role of government is to guarantee that right through an excellent public education system.
- The original Gonski review established by the ALP government of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard proposed a schooling resource standard (SRS) as the MINIMUM funding needed to meet the agreed goals of schooling.
- The funding had a base component and additional funding based on six recognised areas of educational disadvantage.
- In 2013, the ALP government proposed a needs-based funding model (approximating the Gonski model) to fund every state school to the SRS by 2019.
- At the 2013 election, the Liberal Party led by Tony Abbott said it was on a “unity ticket” with the ALP on school funding.
- The Liberals had lied, and funding increases stopped after the first four years of a six-year program - $1.9 billion less for public schools over 2018-9 and $17 billion less over a decade.
- It was re-jigged with some additional funding by the Turnbull government.
Here’s the rub: by 2023, 87 per cent of state schools around the country will not be funded to the SRS, the minimum to meet the agreed goals of schooling for all students.
At the same time, there are numerous private schools that receive more than the SRS for their students from state and federal government funding ALONE. That’s right. Before any fees, charitable grants, bequests etc, governments give them more than the minimum, and more than the overwhelming majority of state schools get!
It gets worse!
And then, when you think it can’t get worse, the Morrison Coalition government finds another $4.6 billion for private schools, and not a cent for state schools.
One would think them shameless, except they feel the need to excuse their largesse to the already privileged by rambling about choice and the “special” role of the federal government with private schools.
Where is funding most needed? In the public schools that are the responsibility of government.
Ken Boston (via Jane Caro) reminds us that 52 per cent of state school students come from below average ICSEA (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage) backgrounds, compared to 11 per cent of Catholic students and just 5 per cent in independent schools.
Time to change
If you detect anger in what I have written above, you would be wrong. I have progressed far beyond anger.
There is no apparent means to change the government’s mind or policy on education funding, abhorrent as it is.
But if we can’t change the government’s mind, it’s time to change the government!
A federal election will be held by May next year, and it is to that that we should turn our attention.
People still complain about the Union being involved in election campaigns, but this is why we are. The funding to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach their potential is fundamental to the work of teachers and the Union that represents them. If we are silent, then we are complicit in the appalling injustice that parades itself as the education funding policy of the federal government.
The choice is stark between the current government and its policies and a Labor opposition that is committed to full resourcing in government and has promised to restore that funding if elected.
Are you part of this campaign?
We have been asking members to subscribe to the Fair Funding Now! campaign either as supporters or volunteers at www.fairfundingnow.org.au. If you haven’t already, do it now.
The focus is increasingly the next federal election and the opportunity it alone seems to provide for a fair, needs-based funding system and a fair go for every child in a state school.
It will not happen by accident or by magic. It will only happen if we work collectively to achieve it. Which side are you on?