Money Still Matters in Education

A new study published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research shows that money still matters in education. It found that school finance reforms in the US that increased expenditure in low income school districts increased high school completion and college entrance among Black students and females as well as increasing annual earnings.

We find that school finance reforms lead to increases in educational attainment and in mean earnings. These results hold when we consider the full state population, but we generally find larger effects for Black than for white students….We also find some evidence that effects are larger for female students. [p. 5]

The study analysed the impact of what are known as “adequacy”-based school finance reforms implemented since 1990. Courts in many US states have ruled that state constitutions require adequacy in school funding. This led to increased expenditure in disadvantaged school districts above the state average to compensate for the increased costs of educating children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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A Review of the Gonski School Funding Inquiry and Report

The following is the Conclusion of a new working paper published by Save Our Schools. It provides a comprehensive review of the Gonski inquiry and its report on school funding in Australia. The full paper can be downloaded below. Comments on the paper are invited. Notification of issues not covered and mistakes of fact, analysis and interpretation will be appreciated. Please excuse any remaining typos and repetitions. Comments can be sent to the Save Our Schools email address: saveourschools690@gmail.com

The Gonski Report was a watershed in the history of school funding in Australia. It changed the whole focus of school funding from choice under the Howard Government’s SES model to making equity in education the centrepiece of education policy. It made the biggest commitment to improving equity in education in the history of school funding in Australia.

The strength of the Report was that it recognised the problem of disadvantage in Australian schooling and made serious recommendations about future funding to reduce disadvantage. It made several contributions to the development of a more equitable school funding system.

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OECD Says Publication of School Results Has Failed to Improve School Performance

Test-based accountability has been a key education policy in most OECD countries, including Australia, for many years. It was believed that publication of school test results would put pressure on schools and teachers to increase student achievement. A new OECD study shows this policy is an abject failure. It found no evidence that test-based accountability has affected education outcomes in higher income countries.

Our results suggest that across most OECD countries test-based accountability does not relate to academic achievement, nor has a substantial impact on educational inequality for the subject of mathematics. With some small variations we achieved similar results for the subjects of reading and science. [p. 25]

The findings have important implications for policy makers in higher income countries:

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Understanding equity in education: New article

Press Release by MCERA on 14 July 2021

The World Bank,  the OECD and the United Nations recently recognised educational inequity as a growing global challenge. But what does educational equity look like and how is it achieved?

“All children have a right to high quality education. This basic principle is stated in international agreements and national education laws. UN’s Sustainable Development Goals expect that the member states “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In many countries, including in Australia, this goal has become harder to reach.

“Refocusing education policies and leadership on equity, as has happened in Australia and in many other OECD countries, will have little real impact on education systems performance unless policymakers have much better common understanding of what equity in education means and why it is an important part of leading successful education systems,” Professor Sahlberg said.

Sahlberg and Cobbold propose that equity in education comprise both an individual and a social group aspect. 

All children should receive at least a minimum standard of education that enables them to make their own way in adult society while children from different social groups should achieve similar education outcomes. “Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education. This is necessary to better guide the development of education policymaking, especially as it relates to equity and its implementation by school leaders and achieving consistent approaches to improving equity in education.”

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Private Schools Brawl to Get Their Snouts Deeper in the Funding Trough

An ABC 7.30 Report last week exposed another brawl between private schools to get their snouts deeper in the school funding trough. A coalition of Independent schools complained they are disadvantaged by the Morrison Government’s new funding model because their funding increase is not as big as others. They want yet another special deal from the Morrison Government as do many other Independent schools.

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Defining Equity in Education

A paper by Pasi Sahlberg and Trevor Cobbold is published in the academic journal School Leadership and Management. The paper reviews approaches to defining equity in education and proposes a unique dual objective comprising an adequate education for all students and similar outcomes for students from different social groups.

Abstract

Equity has become a central principle in educational policy and leadership around the world. However, there is a wide range of interpretations of equity and what it means in education. In this article we explore different definitions of educational equity from policy and leadership perspectives. Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education to overcome vague interpretations and better guide the development of educational leadership for more consistent approaches to improving equity in education. We argue that equity in education should refer to equity of educational outcomes and incorporate both an individual and a social group aspect. We then claim that equality of outcomes is more relevant to comparisons between social groups than individuals, and we call that social equity. In current literature one or the other aspect has been adopted as an equity objective, but it appears combining the two elements is much less common. This dual objective is unique in the discussion around what equity in education means and how it could guide educational policymaking and leadership.

Minister’s Spin Rewrites History

Governments regularly resort to spin to deceive the public and avoid accountability. The NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, adopted this underhand practice in her response to criticism by Save Our Schools that she failed to implement Department of Education protocols for consulting on school closures and amalgamations in the case of the Murwillumbah super-school.

She claims there was widespread consultation. As evidence, she says the Department of Education and School Infrastructure NSW ran workshops in the schools and surveyed the communities about the plan. Her claim is completely disingenuous.

This is a furphy. Department documents show that the only consultation was on the design of the new building. There was NO consultation on whether the schools should be amalgamated prior to the Minister’s announcement last October. It came as a complete shock to the community. Since then, the only consultation has been on the design of the building.

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Minister’s ‘Cloak and Dagger’ Tactics on Murwillumbah Super-School

The NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, has ignored her Department’s protocols in forcing the amalgamation of four Murwillumbah schools into a single super-school. The protocols provide for detailed consultation with school communities and specific criteria to be met before schools are closed or amalgamated. Instead, the amalgamation was announced without any prior consultation with communities.

The Minister has treated the Murwillumbah community with breathtaking arrogance and contempt in bulldozing the amalgamation through and refusing to fully consult with state principal, teacher and parent representative bodies and with local school communities. The only consultation will be on the design of the building, not on whether the schools should be amalgamated.

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Public Schools do More than Private Schools with Fewer Resources

The following is a summary of an Education Research Paper published by Save Our Schools. The full paper can be downloaded below.

Public schools have to do much more than private schools with far fewer resources. New figures show that public schools continue to bear the large burden of education disadvantage. Enrolments of disadvantaged students in public schools are over double that in private schools but public schools have far less income. The burden of disadvantage of public schools is three times that of private schools when their lower income is considered.

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Education Dept Still Dragging its Feet on Holding Private Schools Accountable for Taxpayer Funding

Yet another damning report by the Auditor-General shows that the Commonwealth Department of Education continues to fail to fully hold private school systems accountable for how they distribute taxpayer funding. It also criticises the Minister for Education and the Department for failing to meet their parliamentary reporting obligations.

The report found that the Department has made minor improvements since the 2017 report of the Audit Office castigated the Department for failing to ensure accountability and transparency in funding of private schools. However, the new report found that the Department is still not fully meeting its legislative responsibilities eight years after the Australian Education Act was implemented.

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