Chris Bonnor and colleagues write in Inside Story (16.3.20) about government funding to public and private schools, arguing that non-government schools can no longer be said to be saving taxpayer dollars.
‘Australia’s decades-old debate about school funding is increasingly weighed down by assumptions and claims that passed their use-by date years ago. Foremost among these is the belief that non-government schools represent a big saving to taxpayers, and therefore warrant public subsidies. If privately educated children went to public schools, the argument goes, then taxpayers would spend a lot more than the subsidy private schools receive from state and federal governments.
‘Some have claimed that saving to be anything up to $8 billion in recurrent funding each year. But the reality, at least in the case of two-thirds of non-government schools, is that government funding produces no savings at all. Why? Because those schools are now funded at the same or higher level as similar public schools.
‘Since 2011, in fact, governments would have come out ahead if all new school enrolments had gone to public schools. That would have involved capital expenditure, of course, but even the capital savings created by competing school sectors are less than a third of the amounts frequently claimed.’
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Canada doesn’t fully fund its private primary schools, and Australia shouldn’t either
Michael Mindzak writes in The Conversation (18.8.20) about anomolies in Australia’s education funding system, pointing out how other comparable countries don’t fund private schooling to the same extent as here.
‘The former NSW education minister and now head of the UNSW Gonski Institute, Adrian Piccoli, suggested in recent days Australian governments should fully fund all non-government primary schools.
‘In an opinion piece published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Piccoli wrote this would fix inequality – as long as non-government schools also stopped charging fees and followed the same enrolment and accountability rules as public schools.
‘… While Canada has received its fair share of accolades in recent years – such as appearing in the top ten countries for reading, maths and science in recent PISA tests – such assertions are often based strictly on measures such as standardised testing. Nevertheless, these findings highlight strong outcomes in both educational quality and equity in a country which maintains a robust K-12 public education system.
‘While there are gaps and room for improvement across all levels and systems, public education remains a public good which is intended to serve the needs of all. Funding for private forms of education and the false promises of “school choices” are often misguided efforts which actually continue to drive educational inequalities and inequities.’
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