Courtesy of Piers Akerman
JULIA Gillard and Peter Garrett deserve a big fail for their disastrous attack on school funding concealed in the bizarre interpretation of the Gonski review they wish to present to the state premiers.
Opposition shadow education spokesman Christopher Pyne deserves a mark of excellence for his characterisation of the government’s Gonski plan as nothing more than a Conski.
In terms too simple for this Labor-Green-independent catastrophe of a government to understand, here’s a layman’s guide to why the plan is wrong.
In short, the prime minister and education minister have been promising to ditch the current indexation method, known as the Average Government Student Recurrent Cost, introduced by former Labor education minister Kim Beazley in 1992. Under the new model, instead of AGSRC those schools which currently fund students at a level lower than the Student Resource Standard (SRS) would receive an indexed increase of 3 per cent. Those in which the funding level is over the SRS would receive a 4.7 per cent rise, and those which are around the SRS level would receive a 3.6 per cent increase.
However, the government is basing its average increase on flawed data.
The time period from which it derives its average is too short – just a few years. If, however, the average was taken over the past 10 years, when the average increase in recurrent costs ran at 6 per cent, an entirely different funding scale would be necessary.
Under Gillard and Garrett’s funding level, actual Commonwealth spending will decline in real terms because their rate of indexation is less that the actual current rate. They are basing their figure on the cost predicted for next year’s SRS. Without doubt this will be another huge hit on education funding on top of the $11 billion black hole the Opposition has already identified.
Don’t take my word for it. Already, WA, SA and the ACT believe they will be worse off under Gillard and Garrett’s plan.
The governments of the NT and Queensland have said they won’t agree with the current plan at the COAG meeting.
Not only has the amount of detail issued to the states and territories been woefully limited, the more they delve into the minimal amount of material available, the more they find they are being dudded.
The other problem is that the funds are not directed toward ensuring that better teachers are employed – they are about paying teachers more.
As many people involved with education, including Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson, have said many times: “If you don’t have teachers who are imparting effective instruction to the children, then you have nothing.”
Gillard has branded herself as education prime minister on the grounds that she was education minister under Kevin Rudd and has a “passion” for the topic.
In reality, she has been an abject failure in the field both as minister and prime minister.
What about the $1 billion blow-out in the computer-for-every student program or the hideously expensive shade cloths delivered to school playgrounds under the $14 billion Building the Education Revolution policy, and the tuckshops it delivered that were too small to house a pie-warmer?
The truth is there has been no education revolution under either Gillard or former prime minister Rudd. Since 2007, national scores under both NAPLAN and the OECD’s PISA tests have gone backwards. The BER was just a short-term, overly-expensive, make-work program in response to the global financial crisis – reliant on the budgetary surplus accumulated by the Howard-Costello government.
When Gillard is not masquerading as an education expert, she prides herself as being an expert negotiator. Today’s COAG will provide a test of those as-yet unrevealed skills.
In distorting the goals of the Gonski review she has so far managed to massively alienate the states and even divide the education sector – a feat that should not go unacknowledged.
To deliver her bastardised Gonski, she plans to cut funding to universities to pay more to primary and secondary schools.
If Howard or Peter Costello had attempted to cut a cent out of any education funding there would have been howls.
But because the education unions covering all teachers and lecturers are so locked on to left-wing politics, the minimal protests at this government’s cuts have been so meek as to be negligible.
Gillard, Garrett and Treasurer Wayne Swan know they can spit in the faces of the educators and they would still get their votes.
As it is, there is unlikely to be any resolution to Gonski today because the great negotiator has already given the states and territories an out.
She has already told them that they don’t have to come up with any agreement or plan to implement her version of Gonski until June 30.
The premiers and chief ministers should tell Gillard not to bother and move onto other issues they can equally argue about if she doesn’t want to wear her big new “F”.
Gonski, Conski, Wrongski!
Courtesy of Piers Akerman/Daily Telegraph: Thursday, April, 18, 2013, (5:50pm)
For more articles by Piers go to; http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/piersakerman/