Gillard walks left, all over private school students
Treasurer Wayne Swan’s attacks on wealthy miners and his clarion call to mount the barricades is clearly a strategy to reenergise the party’s true believers in the face of impending electoral defeat. And it’s not just mining, expect education to be added to the list.
That the ALP government is embracing such a strategy, to convince rusted on voters and a sceptical electorate that it does believe in something more than simply holding on to power, spells trouble for non-government schools and an education system weighed down with cultural-left ideology and a statist approach to public policy.
The government’s response to the Gonski review of school funding is soon to be released with the education minister, Peter Garrett, promising legislation in this session of parliament. Modelling carried out by non-government education authorities shows that many Catholic and independent schools will lose funding.
That non-government schools will be discriminated against is proven by the fact that whereas wealthy government schools will be free to raise funds locally, such as school fees, without losing government funds, non-government schools will be financially penalised.
Unlike the current socioeconomic status model due to expire at the end of 2013, where the level of funding to non-government schools is set independently of funds raised by schools, the new model will be based on “parents’ capacity to pay” and all non-government schools, affluent or not, will be expected to contribute a minimum of 10 per cent from local funds.
In addition to losing financially, non-government schools are also facing increased government regulation and control that will compromise the autonomy and flexibility schools currently have and that help explain why such schools are so sought after and so successful.
Whether a national curriculum, national testing, national teacher certification and registration, new compliance regulations or linking funding to schools implementing government anti-discrimination polices in areas like staffing and enrolments, the reality is that all roads lead to Canberra.
Faith-based schools will be forced to teach a secular curricula in areas like history and English that view everything through a politically correct prism of indigenous, Asian and environmental perspectives and that undermine the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage and the debt owed to Western civilisation.
As a result of documents like the Melbourne Declaration, a road map for all school systems endorsed in December 2008 when ALP education ministers were in the majority, faith-based schools will no longer be able to discriminate based on religious beliefs when deciding who the enrol and who they employ.
Imposing quotas and positively discriminating in favour of so-called disadvantaged students for tertiary selection are other examples of the Gillard government’s drive to re-establish its cultural-left credentials.
Instead of merit and ability, and in an attempt to overcome the perceived advantage non-government schools have in relation to getting students into university, the intention is to pressure universities to
enrol greater numbers of at-risk students from disadvantaged schools who might otherwise miss out because of poor marks..
It shouldn’t surprise that the ALP government has identified education as a key battleground to prove it’s still the party of the working class. It also shouldn’t surprise that Julia Gillard, as Prime Minister and education minister, is keen to prove her commitment to socialist ideals like equality of outcomes and equity for all.
In her maiden speech the newly elected member for Lalor identifies ex-Victorian premier and member of the socialist-left Joan Kirner and Aneurin Bevan, the Labor minister responsible for nationalising the British health system, as her mentors.
Gillard, after bemoaning the fact that students at “a very exclusive ladies college in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne” outperform students in her electorate in the western suburbs of Melbourne promises to “seriously tackle the inequality of opportunity that exists in our education system”.
Repeating the cultural-left mantra that success or otherwise at school is determined by socioeconomic background, and not ability, motivation, effort or in-school factors such as teacher quality, Gillard argues that the “students from my electorate are not any less intelligent than those from Higgins or Kooyong” and that overcoming inequality in education will be “one of my priorities in politics”.
Ignored is the Australian research that socioeconomic background only explains 30 per cent of the variance of between tertiary entry rates for government and non-government schools and that more important are factors like classroom discipline, school culture and having an education system based on competition, diversity and choice.
In an attempt to assuage the fears of non-government schools about the impact of the Gonski funding review Julia Gillard, as education minister and now Prime Minister, argues that no school will lose funding and that funding will be indexed.
Significant is that in a 2008 interview, while education minister and when pressed, Gillard admitted that such guarantees only applied to the existing SES model and not to what might take its place, post 2013, when she states, “No, no, our commitment (is) very, very clear. It is for the next schools funding quadrennium, for the next four yearly agreement”.
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