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The Forum > Article Comments > Why non-government schools provide the best model - part 1 > Comments

Why non-government schools provide the best model - part 1 : Comments

By Kevin Donnelly, published 15/10/2012

The prime minister has launched a national crusade on education looking at overseas models, but the answer is closer to home.

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A timely essay. There's no mention of the aims of the education offered by schools... What do we hope our students will have learned by the time they leave - apart from reading and writing? It is true that in general, private schools achieve better academic results, but they draw from a better educated and motivated class of people. Also, they are mainly single-sex establishments, and that is widely acknowledged to be better for academic and sporting achievements for adolescents.
I agree that our independent schools have something to offer when planning for the future, but so have the systems of other countries - although it is doubtful if the USA is an example to follow, having some of the worst educational outcomes in the western world, from what I've read, the most culturally ignorant population.
It seems clear to me, though, that while independent schools receive twice the funding per pupil as state schools, there will be no improvement, and, as you say, without financial certainty, nothing much will happen.
Posted by ybgirp, Monday, 15 October 2012 9:56:50 AM
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"non-government schools provide the best model" Catholics will agree but those of us that have had enough of the whinging, whining and cries of PERSECUTION are feed up with the misleading stories about their self proclaiming of "superiority".
Catholics NETWORK in society to the advantage of other Catholics and to the disadvantage of non-Catholics, they run a corrupt "union" this is very pronounced in the legal industry, yes I have evidence but so far "good" Catholics in the media have been successful in blocking any reference to my findings, I am happy to provide the evidence to any one who is interested in outing the corrupt.
The problem with so called "independent" schools is that they push their own political line and we all know about the "old school tie" used as a "write of passage", more importantly there are many problems within "private schools" that are swept under the carpet while at the same time claiming the "moral high ground", if parents insist that their children go to their particular religious schools, then they can bloody well pay for it.
Posted by lockhartlofty, Monday, 15 October 2012 12:35:47 PM
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The usual.

Misinformation from ybgirp - "...independent schools receive twice the funding per pupil as state schools..."

AND

Generalisations from lockhartlofty - "The problem with so called "independent" schools is that they push their own political line and we all know about the "old school tie" used as a "write of passage", more importantly there are many problems within "private schools" that are swept under the carpet while at the same time claiming the "moral high ground".

I remember reading a balanced, honest account of education funding once - but then I woke up...
Posted by rational-debate, Monday, 15 October 2012 1:21:49 PM
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When we are compared with the Finnish example the Fins come out better?
Why? Well, their seemingly superior results are achieved in far less hours than our average?
The students seem to spend less time learning and more time learning how to learn; and or, the art of critical thinking, right from the get go?
Moreover, there is no cultural or privilege divide in tiny Finland?
No private or religious schools? No exceedingly pretentious old boys club or elitist old school tie advantage?
Just a single system of public schools only?
Which is arguably the only way we are ever going to actually ensure funding equality for all students?
Alternatively, we need to absolutely embrace the Gonski report; and or, means test all education funding or both?
If only to stop embedding and endorsing privilege, and all that's wrong or inherently unfair with that approach?
Sure, by all means let those who want to further entrench privilege and or privileged outcomes, send their Kids to a school which inculcates their supposed superiority and or, entirely unearned and undeserved prestige?
But not to also expect the far less well off to somehow subsidise it?
That said, and in the interest of true equality of outcomes, we also need just a single funding paradigm, which simply deals the states and their often seemingly exorbitant "management" fees, out of the education equation!
I think we'ed release more education dollars for education outcomes, with a direct funding model; based almost solely on student numbers and the miles travelled, by the school's student body.
[We need to stop selectively if entirely inadvertently, disadvantaging country kids?]
Entirely agree with vastly streamlined autonomy for local Principals, and a much bigger bang for the education buck!
And more online learning and P+T involvement/consultation outcomes?
Our goal must be, to do it better and be the equal opportunity education example everyone else wants to follow, surely?
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Monday, 15 October 2012 2:03:13 PM
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Unlike public schools non-public schools can be selective in accepting only those students who they wish to accept. Public schools must accept all children and provide for their needs.

Unlike public schools private schools are generally segregated as to belief systems. Most private schools are supported by a particular religious establishment and require that the beliefs of that particular religious establishment must be accepted as fact. This is contrary to the idea of critical thinking which requires that all ideas be subject to critical examination.

Public schools provide a service to society that private schools do not provide. Students of different backgrounds mix and learn about each other. The Supreme Court of the United States has declared that segregation by race in inherently unequal. The results are the same when it comes to segregation by religion.

Section 116 of the Australian Constitution says:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

By applying Commonwealth funding to support religiously based schools the Commonwealth is imposing a religious observance. Parents have a right to instruct their children into their religious beliefs. However, government support for this activity violates S. 116.

One purpose of education is to prepare children to live as adults in our society. By segregating them according to religion we prevent interaction with children of different faiths. Thus prejudice grows.

Learn together, grow up together and be aware of the feelings of those with different backgrounds. Adequate government support for public schools is obligatory. Religious schools should not be the business of government except to ensure those schools provide an adequate education.

Parents have a right to imbue their children with their faith. However, the taxes of people of other faiths should not be allocated to support that right. Religious schools should be funded entirely by parents of the students and their religious bodies. Religious instruction should not be the business of government.
Posted by david f, Monday, 15 October 2012 2:11:35 PM
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The claim of "generalization" by RATIONAL-DEBATE is the usual way people try to demean statements for which they don't have an answer, they hope their followers will dismiss the relevance of the story and take the lazy way out and not think to much about the subject.
As for "rational-debate" about the majority of taxpayers funding self righteous religious schools I doubt R-D will ever wake up.
Posted by lockhartlofty, Monday, 15 October 2012 2:56:25 PM
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Alternatively, lockhartlofty, one could argue that to generalise, as you clearly have, is what you do when you don't have the facts to support your argument.

I have worked in education for 25 years, including time in independent schooling, and the schools I have worked with look nothing like what you have described. I can stand by my statements with hard facts and experience. You are offering what exactly?

David F - the schools I have worked with do not force anyone to believe anything. Yes, the school has a doctrinal basis but students, and their families, are given the integrity to believe what they choose. Children are not forced to say, or do, things which they are not comfortable with. Children are not enrolled on the basis of faith/belief.

More generalisations from people who simply don't know.
Posted by rational-debate, Monday, 15 October 2012 4:24:03 PM
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generalisations from people who simply don't know.

rational-debate,
Ok, what then do you attribute the poor standard of education to ?
Posted by individual, Monday, 15 October 2012 6:16:14 PM
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State schools are poor, fixated on the latest secular fad or religion. We had to send our little one to a small Catholic school to repair the years of failure by the State system.
Posted by McCackie, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 9:36:59 AM
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Individual, not sure how to link the disparate thoughts in your comment but I'll have a shot. Quick answer (my thoughts only) as to current poor education standards (your words) would be, to list a few:
- Dumbing down of the syllabus in some areas and overt political/philosophical influence re the content
- Ditto re overt political/philosophical influence via teacher's unions, etc
- Low marks required to get into teaching. I have worked with staff who can barely string a sentence together, let alone teach others how to do it.
- (over)reaction at school level to the "fear" of NAPLAN results
- Decreasing parent engagement with schools and schooling

Researchers, such as John Hattie, see parent influence and teacher ability as probably the biggest factors.

On a broader scale, and these are really just my thoughts, you have:
- Technology and how schools work with it.
- A shift in the relationship between students and teachers. I know this makes me sound 100 years old, but I would never have spoken to my teachers the way kids try to today. Coincidentally, it's the same way I see them speak to their parents.
- The increasing divide between haves and have nots
- etc

I do not see funding as the big issue the media would make out. A concern certainly but not the be all and end all. I have been in the position where all I had to teach fractions was a piece of paper that I just kept folding different ways. The class did fine and all passed the test with flying colours. You don't need an i-Pad or interactive whiteboard to teach well!

As I said, just a few thoughts. Any wisdom re how to address them will be gratefully received!
Posted by rational-debate, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 11:42:39 AM
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Letís be clear why there are more than 3,000 losing school sunder the Gonski proposals.

Imagine if when you went to hospital you were charged a fee based on your neighboursí average income. This is the Howard governmentís SES model for school funding. It is also the Gonski panelís SES model for school funding, though the Gonski panel suggests using a smaller number of neighbours. The Howard governmentís SES model was so bad for private schools that half of them get compensation to be as well off as they were under Laborís education resources index model, which based funding on the level of fees of the school. The Gonski panelís SES model has produced a list of 3,000 losing schools, partly for the same reason: it takes no account of school fees. The SES model punishes low-fee private schools that take students from middle class areas.

There is another reason that the list is so long. The states have generally had staffing formulas for their schools, not funding formulas. Thus, a school with lots of experienced teachers can cost a lot more than a school with exactly the same number of teachers, who are less experienced. The Gonski SRS is a de facto voucher, so it ignores the current differences in costs between schools due to different salary rates and thus automatically adds to the list of losing schools.
Posted by Chris C, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 4:48:35 PM
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The final relevant fact is that the list contains lots of government schools, which would not make sense to some people. It does to me. Given that the Victorian per capita amount under its student resource package is thousands of dollars below the Gonski indicative school resource standard, it should not be possible. I have had a look at the list of losing schools in Victoria, my home state. Almost all the losing government schools are country schools or disadvantaged schools; i.e., schools that get extra funding now. This tells me that the loadings for disadvantage under the Gonski plan have not been included. They could not be included because they had not been worked out.

Itís a pity that not single report on the losing list of those that I have seen has mentioned this explanation, just as it is a pity that not single report on the losing list of those that I have seen has mentioned the key role played by the Gonski reportís continuation of the SES model. In fact, not a single report I have seen since the Gonski report was released has mentioned that it has endorsed the Howard SES model, albeit based on a smaller area. The only mentions of this fact that I can find are in the very few letters to the editor from me that have been published - in The Australian, The Canberra Times and The Sunday Age. The Age has not published even one of the 41 letters to the editor I have submitted on the Gonski report, and no one who relies on the print edition of The Age can even know that the Gonski report endorses the Howard governmentís SES funding model because The Age will not reveal this fact.

If you want a much more informed account of the Gonski report, go to http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/576719.aspx.
Posted by Chris C, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 4:49:00 PM
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Dear rational-debate,

No one can force anyone to believe anything. My chief objections to government funding schools supported by religious entities are that I think it violates S. 116 of the Australian Constitution by government funds supporting the schools and it segregates students by religion.

I think one reason there are such schools is that parents would like to limit the contact of their children with children of other faiths to lessen the chance of intermarriage. They have a right to do that, but that should not be funded by the government.
Posted by david f, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 6:11:09 PM
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rationale-debate,
I am in an area where 99% of students are sent to boarding school at everyone else's expense except the parent's.
99 % of these students come back with no discernible skills. 1% enter a questionable scheme for some trade which usually ends up as a trade-off for some integrity devoid bureaucrat beating their chest for putting "apprentices" through. Looks great in the deceiving reports to the Government. Ĺ % actually finish a trade but then head for office jobs in air conditioned Govt buildings. We now have no local people who know how to hold a hammer or a saw.
This is not an education system, this is a dumbing-down on a massive scale sanctioned by dumbed-down teachers whose sole aim is an overly generous & undeserved Superannuation.
They callously co-operate with incompetent bureaucrats who don't give a second's thought to society as a whole. That is education now.
The 1 or 2 % of students who go on & exercise their knowledge to become scientists or engineers, doctors etc.& decent citizens in general are then used as an excuse to portray an extremely poor education system as a success story.
Posted by individual, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 6:46:28 PM
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David F - the S 116 of the Australian Constitution debate has been fought and lost (or won, depending on your viewpoint). It would have to be an extremely broad interpretation that would see the funding of independent schools in breach.

Individual - While I think I agree with your broader points, I fear you might be suffering from hyperbole overload. 99%? 1%? 0.5%? Unless you come from a town of only 15 people, I think you need to get some research to back up those figures...

I'm not sure how you link a poor education system with the lack of competent tradespeople in your area. I would more likely link that to the misguided "aspirational Australia" model touted by many politicians. Yes, that links to education but education isn't the cause.
Posted by rational-debate, Wednesday, 17 October 2012 6:41:35 AM
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The usual ideological tripe from Donnelly.

Try looking at the best education system in the world and you will see that they do the EXACT OPPOSITE of the Donnelly dogma of rehashing right wing ideology masquerading as research.

Read this and see how the Finns do it.
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/
Posted by shal, Wednesday, 17 October 2012 8:16:51 AM
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rationale-debate,
those percentages are not exaggerated. We literally have no young adults who can do anything either for themselves or for others. They had all paid for boarding school/college education. I had 8 years primary school in Europe. Considering the amount it cost the taxpayer to educate them for what ? To go from college to Centrelink ? Tha lack of tradies has everything to do with education. Teachers failed miserably in enlightening their students sufficiently to be smart enough for a trade. Schools only prepare them to tick multiple choice questions. The expense of educating them vs getting value for money for them is so disproportional that it is nothing short of criminal. Education is supposed to teach kids not dumb them down to the same level as their teachers.
Posted by individual, Wednesday, 17 October 2012 6:18:33 PM
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Dear rational debate,

The wording of S. 116 of the Australian Constitution and the mentions of religion in the American Constitution are identical. The only difference is that the provision of 'no religious test for office' is separate from the other references to religion in the US Constitutional. Yet chaplains in the public schools and government funding for private schools are illegal under US law. The Supreme Court of the US interprets the Constitution of the US differently from the way the High Court of Australia interprets the Constitution of Australia. The struggle to get separation of religion and state in Australia continues.
Posted by david f, Wednesday, 17 October 2012 8:45:54 PM
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Thanks Individual, I shall file that under "Rants without substance".

David F - I'm sorry you disagree with the High Court of Australia but as I said before, the fight has been fought and lost. Is is disappointing that so many people try to stretch the intent of separation of Church and State to such extremes. Shows an lack of historical understanding of the basis of the concept and an innate bias.
Posted by rational-debate, Thursday, 18 October 2012 7:23:27 AM
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Rants without substance"
rational-debate,
I suspect you're a teacher hence the escape route you've chosen. Sad reflection on teachers really.
Posted by individual, Thursday, 18 October 2012 6:08:35 PM
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Individual - Thanks for the research, as requested. I shall take the time to digest it fully and get back to you.

I was worried for a moment that you might just resort to a cheap cop-out, followed by an generalised insult. What a relief you didn't...
Posted by rational-debate, Friday, 19 October 2012 6:53:35 AM
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Dear rational_debate,

I don't think my definition of separation of religion and state is in the least bit extreme. "Church and State" by Bishop Tom Frame contends we don't have the separation in Australia. I agree with him and would like to see it. He is satisfied the way it is now.

I have an excellent understanding of the concept.
http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10725&page=0 and
http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10790&page=0 contain two articles I have written on the subject.

Certainly I have a bias in favour of separation of religion and state. I think it is a very good idea.
Posted by david f, Friday, 19 October 2012 5:25:44 PM
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The story of Finland's success contained in the link http://bit.ly/steoRz would deal with the insanity of religious education were it introduced into Australia. The only way to make a country unified, educated and peaceful is to give everyone, no matter where they live, how wealthy they are or what religion or ethnicity, the same education for free, taught by well educated and trained teachers who are given almost total responsibility for their charges.
With this system there is no place for religious and other private institutions indoctrinating their clients with notions of superiority, privilege and contempt for everyone else, as is the case today. Our politicians are, for the most part, the result of inequalities in education, which is why they're so stupid, ignorant, and unable to see the consequences of their actions.
Posted by ybgirp, Saturday, 20 October 2012 7:20:29 AM
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For the record, Finland does have a limited number of private schools and they are fully funded by the government. Some of these are even run by insane religious people!
Posted by rational-debate, Saturday, 20 October 2012 9:00:12 PM
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