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Politics Teaching

Giving a Gonski 2

I’ve been promising a more detailed response to Monday’s announcements from the government in response to the Gonski report into school funding – so I guess this is that.

One of the first points is that the government hasn’t, as yet, really responded to the Gonski report… rather, it has made a major announcement about school funding.

This from the Opposition: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/oppn-call-for-detailed-gonski-response/story-e6frf7kf-1226465566079

Now, Pyne is a bit of a petulant git, and it’s silly to demand detailed funding commitments, because the funding *does* depend on the states coming to the party. School education is a state responsibility in Australia, and the Federal government’s funding is only 30% of the total. Demand all you like, the national government can’t simply mandate what the states will do.

But a more detailed response to the recommendations in the Gonski report – many of which were focused on the problems of equity in Australian school funding – would be very helpful, and address quite a lot of my disquiet about the response.

This post from The Conversation does a nice job of addressing the major issues: http://theconversation.edu.au/the-real-agenda-behind-gillards-gonski-response-9305

The key point I had in addition to the good points raised in this article is that this response does not arrest, but expands, the culture of teacher ‘accountability’, measurement and surveillance.

Higher entry requirements for the profession (defined in terms of university entry scores – which it could be argued don’t actually predict teacher excellence very well at all), more surveillance – more and more of the things that make teaching no fun, and no more of the things that make teaching fun: actually teaching kids. More paperwork, less trust.

There is already a shortage of secondary science teachers (though there’s a bit of a glut of primary teachers in Queensland). Making the job both harder to get into and harder to stay in is only going to make that worse.

More funding is welcome – but it’s not really being targeted well, and the tradeoffs in terms of breaking down the public school system are deeply worrying.

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