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47 responses to “Gonski roundup”

  1. zorronsky

    The rolling change of Coalition positions on this as emphasized by you above reflects both a reluctance to leave a position of total opposition to any Government policies and the Pop/Poll feed in from the IPA and News Limited with help from ‘Our? ABC’, The Drum, News 24 etc and The majority of Fairfax journalists.

  2. paul burns

    I got the impression (from TV only) that Abbott was for the present system as it is, not Gonski, plus the proposed uni cuts.
    Question is will the Lib states refuse the bucket of money, which, even with its attendant extra state expenditure, is a better deal than they’re likely to get from Abbott, just so they can put egg all over Gillard just before the election. The cynic in me thinks they might, but sometimes even Australian politicians get a rush of principle to the head, so I don’t know.

  3. paul burns

    Well, I got that wrong, didn’t I? NSW is apparently going to sign up today.

  4. Terry

    NSW has signed up to Gonski. If Victoria also sign up, then this gets interesting, as Gillard can most likely then get at least four states onboard.

    I think they can see what might happen in the May budget.

  5. Terry

    Interestingly, over at Catallaxy, they have gone ape about Barry O’Farrell singing on to Gonski. Far more ape than I would have expected.

  6. Peter Murphy

    Does O’Farrell prefer Gillard to Abbott as PM? Party labels aside, Gillard isn’t the one who’s going to cut the federal funding for improving public transport, which is one of NSW’s “must haves”. O’Farrell would like the Gonski cash, and he gets to undermine Abbott as well. (It’d be a different story for any other LNP leader.)

    It’s my thought bubble; any New South Welshpeople can set me straight.

  7. jules

    I’m over 700 km from Sydney so i have
    no idea, but O’Farrell did come out in support ofsame sex marriage several days before Abbott said it was about as inevitable as the Republic was.

  8. Terry

    I’ve been out of NSW for a while, but I wouldn’t see it as O’Farrell having a preference for Gillard over Abbott. More likely, he can sense there will be less money available after June 30.

    O’Farrell himself would be sort of from the left of the NSW Libs, although “left” is a relative term. Like Nick Greiner and John Fahey, he is a social liberal, so the support for same-sex marriage is no surprise whatsoever. Its also very much the view of the cashed up base of the Eastern Suburbs wing of the Liberals, who of course Malcolm Turnbull represents federally.

    if there is a continuum of State Liberal premiers where Ted Baillieu was on the “left” and Campbell Newman the hero of the Liberal “right”, O’Farrell is probably closer to the Victorians than the Queenslanders. He has certainly now made himself some enemies on the Right, if Twitter and Catallaxy are any guides.

  9. Chris

    He has certainly now made himself some enemies on the Right, if Twitter and Catallaxy are any guides.

    Oh they never liked him in the first place so I doubt its caused him any real harm.

  10. Russell

    I won’t look at Catallaxy, but if they object to the federalism aspect they may have a point. What expertise in running schools does the federal government have that it can attach conditions to the funding such as how much power the principal of a school has?

    There will most likely be a change of government and, as usual, the incoming one will be horrified at the budget-deficit-black hole situation, and do whatever it likes to school funding. Gillard left it too late to get a new system entrenched.

    From a W.A. perspective, we could reasonably hope for something a lot better than Gillard’s Gonski.

  11. Terry

    Its probably done him some good. NSW is historically a Labor state – albeit right-wing Labor – and the Liberals tend to be “small l”. Abbott is a somewhat anomalous product of the NSW Liberal party.

  12. Darin

    It’s just an ambit claim against the first Coalition budget. Barry knows that the ALP will not be in any position to deliver this, so he’s just lining up the first COAG meeting next year.

  13. Peter Murphy

    “Take pride in yourself.” You have all heard the phrase. It’s been repeated umpteen times over the years from multitudes of self-help books dating back to Dale Carnegie and before.

    I wish the folk at Catallaxy would take that saying at heart, because I would be so, so, so ashamed if I were found out being as publicly spiteful and mean-spirited as them. Gawd knows I can do cynicism and contempt, but generally with some level of justification, and not 24/7 like those people.

    And the comments implying that O’Farrell and Gillard were involved in some Gonski-related nookie are unwise.

  14. Terry

    I don’t think that Barry O’Farrell is looking forward to a night out with Tony Abbott’s Director of Policy in the near future.

  15. Mr Denmore

    The AFR’s Tory leaning political watcher Jennifer Hewitt puts it this way: Gillard Gets the Credit for School Reform, Abbott Pays For It.

    Abbott has been snookered on education and he knows it.

  16. Russell

    If Gillard brings in a scheme, which she says is all about fairness, but it is obviously unfair to the children in one state, does that make her …. a liar?

  17. Peter Murphy

    If she was impeded in making her scheme fair, my answer would be “no”.

  18. Fran Barlow


    He has certainly now made himself some enemies on the Right, if Twitter and Catallaxy are any guides.

    Those enemies on the right have no place but the Liberals to go, putting them in much the same position as Green voters in relation to the ALP. They can choose not to vote formally of course.

  19. Terry

    Fran, there is actually a fairly healthy assortment of options on the right at present – DLP, Liberal Democratic Party, Christian Democratic Party, Shooters & Fishers Party, Family First, One Nation Party, Katter Australian Party, and no doubt others. Who they preference is interesting.

    Is the Australian Tea Party still around? They had a brief flurry on Facebook. There is also The Mainstream Party, discussed on this site a few weeks ago. They would always have been suspicious of someone with a surname like O’Farrell. Probably takes orders from the Vatican.

  20. Russell

    Peter – if she was impeded in making her scheme fair, and thus it isn’t, then she should stop claiming that it is a triumph of fairness – she knows it isn’t.

    She produced a mining tax that the mining companies could approve of, and a school funding scheme that the elite private schools could approve of – funded by ripping money out of universities and technical colleges – it may not be the biggest straw, but it may be the last one!

  21. Peter Murphy

    The last Tea Party related thread on LP.

  22. Peter Murphy

    Russell: I think you’ve posted on this elsewhere, but what is it about Gonskie that fails for WA (rather than NSW or elsewhere)? I think that is what you are griping about; correct me if I’m wrong?

  23. Russell

    Peter, Gonski sets an average amount that should be spent on a student, then there are loadings for distance etc. The W.A. state government spends more per average than the other states already because it costs more to educate students here.

    Gillard is saying that she doesn’t need to give money to W.A. because the government here already spends the Gonski average. But the point about education isn’t how much is spent, but the achievement. W.A. students are already about 4th or 5th in the state league tables, so clearly if they are not to fall even further behind they need their share of any new funding.

    Gillard may have started out with some ambition to make the system fairer, but along the way the desire to buy votes has become more important. Her scheme is unfair to W.A., but also it’s just such a poor result for everyone – after years of promising the solution to school funding we get this diluted, maybe slight improvement for school funding, with the money coming from other areas of education spending, and tied up with a grab for more centralised power over how schools are run.

  24. jess

    I have to agree with Russell on this one.

    Much and all as I’m not a massive fan of King Col and his whining about federal ‘power grabs’, he does have a point that the eastern states are copping a bit of a windfall after years of cynical defunding of their education systems. I’m not sure that it really sends a good message to the state governments about their responsibilities.

    That said, I’m not sure why education isn’t just a federal issue anyway – why does each state need it’s own curriculum/qualifications system?

  25. Russell

    Brian — an alternative explanation is that Gillard is just stupid. Because I’ve heard her, twice, answer the “it’s not fair to W.A.” question, and both times she congratulated W.A. on funding its students to the Gonski standard, and even said that as Australians she was sure that we West Australians would be happy to see all students in Australia be funded as well as ours were!

    This is her baby, so if there were other streams of funding she could mention I’m sure she would have, unless she’s stupid. Of course one recalls Medicare Gold and has to wonder if she just doesn’t have much of a talent for policy.

    Jess, one of the advantages of having states is that there’s room for the different states to try out various new ideas, locally-appropriate innovations etc, and then be able to compare results against a common standard. Gillard has been very impressed with a scheme she saw in New York – measuring, tests, reporting – and is pressing that on Australia. I think we can see the danger of having one fad picked up and forced on the whole country.

  26. FDB

    “That said, I’m not sure why education isn’t just a federal issue anyway – why does each state need it’s own curriculum/qualifications system?”

    Rinse and repeat for health.

  27. Jumpy

    “That said, I’m not sure why education isn’t just a federal issue anyway – why does each state need it’s own curriculum/qualifications system?”

    Because Australia is a federation of states. If state governments acted more like companies ( ie looking at other states to compare educational policies, systems and outcomes to adjust an improve their own) with their rightful flows of income, then general overall improvement would happen.
    Instead States have become beggars with bowls with no capacity to innovate.
    Abolish the Fed Ed Dept and distribute the loot per capita to the states.

    Rinse and repeat for health.

  28. Peter Murphy

    No, Gillard’s not stupid. She has the strengths and weaknesses of a late-regime technocratic leader (as the Robinson link alludes to).

  29. Fran Barlow

    Speaking as a teacher, I’d prefer there were just one Federal education department, setting the overall standards and allowing regional governments (not states) to deliver those standards. There’s no need for an extra layer of government between the local and the Commonwealth.

    I’d also like the focus to be on suitable funding for teacher quality and resourcing. I believe we need to reduce class sizes, numbers of different classes per teacher and numbers of student for which each teacher is directly accountable and require time freed up by this for much more detailed, ongoing, structured professional development to take place.

    That’s how we should spend money IMO.

  30. Jumpy


    I believe we need to reduce class sizes, numbers of different classes per teacher and numbers of student for which each teacher is directly accountable

    How do you suggest that ” direct accountability ” is measured and enforced?
    Honest question as I’ve never heard a teacher advocate this.

  31. Fran Barlow

    Each of us is directly accountable (for work units, program, reporting and assessment, via TARS*) to parents/primary care givers, our HT, the year group’s supervising Deputy Principal and of course, the Principal for every student on a roll held by us. In addition, we also report directly to STLD (support teacher learning difficulties) ander ESES (Every Student Every School) for adjustments made to support individual learning.

    * TARS — Teacher Assessment Review Scheme. (Executives have “EARS” and the Principal has “PARS”)

  32. Jumpy

    Thanks Fran.
    Just one more if you’d be so kind.
    What is the process if a teacher fails to meet certain benchmarks on one or more occasions ?

  33. Fran Barlow

    What is the process if a teacher fails to meet certain benchmarks on one or more occasions?

    A teacher is initially defined as “experiencing difficulty”. Areas of deficiency are identified and a teacher mentor is engaged — often from a different school but under the supervision of the Principal and HT. The teacher is given a timeline for improvement, and an observer will come in to supervise teaching.

    The process is humiliating because everyone knows what is going on, and in my experience those subject to it avoid eye contact with other staff. Most teachers would sooner resign than go through it. Some who have (often very junior teachers) have gone on to be competent. Anyone who fails the process will be dismissed unless they can show “extraordinary circumstances”. They can appeal, but they rarely do.

    I knew a woman who was IMO not just an excellent teacher but someone who went above and beyond the call, who had to go through this largely because she ran afoul of a Principal who was, err … eccentric and didn’t like her. The teacher lacked some of the interpersonal skills with other staff one normally picks up and so didn’t have many people willing to stand up for her.

    Eventually she proved that she was indeed competent but as she’d lost her job and there was nowhere to place her, she has had to become a casual. (She is appealing this) In the meantime though she will be coming to work at my school and she is supposed to be supervised for 1 year by our executive — I’ve been asked to mentor her from next term as I always got along well with her. She is being spared the in-class supervision as class management has been shown not to be an area of deficiency.

  34. Jumpy

    Again, thanks Fran.
    There are alway going to be some who don’t ” cut the mustard ” in certain endeavours. Often taking stock and altering ones path is more rewarding.
    In my field many a fine Tradesman has lost employment as a result of 3 years of construction industry activity decline and bright, keen would-be apprentices have had their hopes dashed.
    The woman you mentioned can, at least, console herself in the knowledge that your industry is ever growing with future opportunities for her just around the corner.

  35. Terry

    I don’t agree with Alex Mitchell’s analysis here – I think O’Farrell’s motives are a lot more pragmatic than he assumes, and there are benefits for Gillard in getting at least one State Premier onside – but I do like his story about Abbott supporters going apesh_t about O’Farrell’s “selfish bastardry” in signing on for Gonski.

  36. jess

    jumpy & russell: I’m just not convinced by the ‘choice’ argument though. To really have good competition between states you need to have good consumer mobility, and how many people would really change states just for their kids education?

    I accept that people will move school districts within their city – I would just be suprised if there are large scale state-level flows for education.

    There’s not enough of an economic driver to have an efficient market mechanism in this case. And what benefit* is there for students? I would suggest that in the case of Finland having a policy where every school across the country is exactly the same has worked well.

    *As an aside about choice and educational benefits, I just recently came across this interesting study of Monash students (from 2005) that shows that private schools have a very limited academic ‘value-add’ in terms of university study. It showed that private schooled students have marks that are about 6% lower than the publicly schooled students, despite having higher entry qualifications in general. Make of that what you will.

  37. jess

    Actually, just rethinking my previous comment – I suppose that we can vote state govts out if they do badly, which is another way of changing how your kids are schooled without moving states, but that’s no argument for not moving education to a federal level.

  38. jess

    Brian @ 29: I agree that Gillard is not a dummy – this could just be an oversight which should be corrected.

    But regardless there is still a substantive matter that this divvy-up doesn’t seem to have taken into account the conditions in WA, and I would hope that this gets rectified.

    I guess part of the problem can be laid at the feet of the WA state govt, who seem happier to throw their toys out of the cot over this rather than arguing their case.

  39. Russell

    Jess, Gillard is not a dummy, but perhaps negotiation or implementation are her strengths, and policy isn’t. Medicare Gold was the first one we remember, but don’t forget her stupid refugees-to-East-Timor policy, or what her version of a super-profits tax (something mining companies could manage out of the petty cash) has turned out to be.

    Gillard trumpeted a new fair way of funding schools – then limited Gonski’s terms of reference, then diluted it’s findings, then came up with a cut-price version, and that partly funded by stealing the money from tech colleges and universities.

    You don’t need the customers to move to have competition and innovation in the state education systems. The state education departments have budgets in the billions and are amongst the biggest employers in Australia, and they have well-paid managers. The pressure is on to improve your students’ grades in the national and international tests, so each state system, well aware of all the international trends, is trying, in its own context, to come up with new and better ways of educating students.

  40. Russell

    Brian – a national leader is meant to be that: someone who governs fairly for all the country. Gillard’s divide and conquer, bribe and bully – and oh maybe W.A. is just too hard a case approach, isn’t fit for a national leader.

    That hack Michelle Grattan wrote about Gonski in the West Australian recently and said (and you know she wrote this from Canberra!) that Gillard would likely get this state, then that one, and she may not get W.A. in, but that wouldn’t matter. I don’t think people in the eastern states realise how often we hear that assessment and I’m sure that they wouldn’t like to hear it said about themselves/their state.

  41. jess

    Russell @ 42: Yes, I accept that you can have each state trying, within it’s own context, to improve grades with respect to international rankings.

    But I don’t think that this is an argument for why we should have state-based education – since presumably Australia would still be competing in this manner if education was federally managed?

    It seems that most efforts to improve the way we do education (see Fran’s posts @ 34 and 36) are targeted at the level of individual schools or individual teachers anyway. That seems to be where the real competition in education is.