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Is there a crisis in public education?

Jessica Gerrard writes in The Conversation (13.2.17) about how, on the evidence of government debate over school funding, public schools are spaces in which equality can be either supported or, too easily, weakened.

‘It is widely claimed that there is a crisis in public schooling, or at the very least, that there is something profoundly wrong with it.

‘This is, unsurprisingly, a common reform and lobbying tactic. Talk of “crises” in schooling can provide important “reform windows” in which government, lobbying groups, unions and pundits push their reform agendas. However, the exact nature of the crisis is hotly contested.

‘For some, such as the authors of the review of the Australian Curriculum, the problem lies in the need for schools to pay greater attention to “the impact of Western civilisation and Judeo-Christianity on Australia’s development”.

‘For others, the crisis lies in the quality of teachers. Some people also think the belly of the crisis lies in the deep inequalities that plague our education system and its outcomes, from the disadvantage experienced by Indigenous students to the stubborn link between economic inequity and education inequity.

‘When it comes down to it, each of these proclaimed crises reflect different points of why we have a public school system, and what we want it to look like and do. Ultimately, this is about different views surrounding the purpose of public schooling.’

Trevor Cobbold: ‘Labor again exposed as morally bankrupt on private school overfunding’

Trevor Cobbold comments on the schools funding debate in Pearls and Irritations (6.2.17): ‘An unholy alliance between Tanya Plibersek and Tony Abbott on overfunding of private schools was again revealed this week. Labor’s position on overfunding was exposed as morally bankrupt, cynical and at complete odds with its supposed support for the principle of needs-based school funding.’

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