Why We Must Invest More in Public Schools in 2012
The most comprehensive review of schools funding in almost 40 years has recommended an major overhaul of the way schools are funded. It says an additional $5 billion a year urgently needs to be invested in education and $3.8 billion of that money should go to public schools.
Here are the five key reasons why the Gonski Review says we must invest more:
1. Australia’s future depends on every child getting a high quality education
Our future prosperity and success depends on getting the best out of every child. That means having a schooling system that is among the best in the world for quality and equity. While the Review found we have a high quality education system, “Australia’s standing as one of the countries heading the world is slipping”. Achievement levels are dropping and we are also not doing enough to help students overcome disadvantage. Funding is not getting to the students who need it the most.
2. Public schools are being short-changed
The Gonski Review found that to lift overall achievement levels and help students overcome disadvantage requires a major investment of funding in public schools. They are the ones open to all in every community and they educate the overwhelming majority of students with higher needs such as those from low SES backgrounds or those with a disability. The review said the Federal Government, in particular, was under-investing in public schools and only contributing 15 per cent of their annual funding. “It is clear that the Australian Government could play a greater role in funding government schools,” the report states.
3. The existing funding system is failing us
According to the review the current funding arrangements are failing to meet the needs of our students or our country. They are “complex and confusing”, “inconsistent” and “lack coherence and transparency”. There is a major imbalance in the funding responsibilities between the Federal Government and the states and territories. The existing federal funding system is so compromised by political deals and over-payments that only half of all private schools are covered by it. As David Gonski said: “The system is failing too many of our students.”
4. Australia is spending too little on education
Currently Australian governments spend far less than other high performing nations on education. Public expenditure as a percentage of GDP is 3 per cent, compared to the OECD average of 3.5 per cent. The additional $5 billion in total the Review recommends represents about 15 per cent of the current annual investment.
5. The cost of failing to invest will be borne by our children and our nation
The review warns of the serious economic and social cost of failing to lift our performance in education and tackle underachievement. “The need for the additional expenditure and the application of what those funds can do is urgent. Australia will only slip further behind unless, as a nation, we act and act now,” the report states.