New schools funding package a step in the right direction

The Gonski review into schools funding did not mention the term ‘sector-blind’ (Bigstock)

The Morrison Government's schools funding fix is a step in the right direction for needs-based funding, writes Glenn Savage. Source: ABC News.

The government's latest change to its funding formula for Catholic and independent schools has been met with the usual wails of horror from opposing political camps.

Cries are especially loud among unions, public education advocacy groups and commentators who make a decent living from the politics of outrage concerning school funding in our nation.

The government's proposed needs-based system will benefit some schools more than others.

While the reform has spurious elements, including an ill-defined $1.2 billion "choice and affordability fund" for private schools, the primary change is a step in the right direction for needs-based funding.

By providing a better measure to assess parents' capacities to pay school fees, based on taxable income rather than census data, it will result in improvements to how private schools are funded.

The changes have absolutely no bearing on the way public schools are funded, yet from the tenor of debate, anyone would think a direct axe is been taken to the public system.

The most common battle cry is that the change attacks the "sector blind" principles of the Gonski model.

Even Rob Stokes, the Liberal NSW Minister for Education, says the change contradicts "the Gonski principles of needs-based, sector-blind funding".

The argument that the Gonski model is sector blind and that this ideal is being corrupted is fundamentally wrong.

Not only has sector blind funding never existed as part of the Gonski model, but if it did, advocates for public education would have much more to worry about than they currently do.

The myth of the Gonski model as sector-blind emerged almost simultaneously with the commissioning of the original Gonski review in 2010.

Early in the review process, talk of sector-blindness filled the airwaves, suggesting the Gonski review would herald a new model that treated all schools (public and private) the same.

This was a mischaracterisation of the review's aims that somehow stuck in the public imagination.

Not once does the term "sector blind" feature in the Gonski report, nor does it appear in the more recent Gonski 2.0 report, despite ongoing claims to the contrary.

Dr Glenn C. Savage is a senior lecturer in Education Policy at the University of Western Australia

FULL STORY

Busting the myth of 'sector-blind' school funding (ABC News)

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