He has lost his sharp tongue and tendency to anger, but has become a transactional politician, chair of the committee. He became prime minister and maintains continued support simply because he is not Tony Abbott.
Recently he has resolved a number of issues which have dogged the government since the horror budget of 2014, but will it add up to a narrative that changes his party’s electoral fortunes? In the latest education changes Simon Birmingham may have become the “fixer” Christopher Pyne claimed to be and may have neutralised one of Labor’s strengths, by stealing Gonski. Continue reading Gonski 2.0: will it help the Turnbull government?→
While the findings are quite complex, the take-out message from a recent OECD study is:
On average, in the past 10 years there has been no appreciable improvement in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that have invested heavily in information and communication technologies for education.
An OECD survey revealed that many Australian schools have Year 11 and 12 students who lack basic necessities, including housing and adequate nutrition, according to an AAP report last year in The Guardian.
Australia has almost as many schools with significant numbers of Year 11 and 12 students from disadvantaged backgrounds as Mexico.
An OECD study has found that many Australian schools have Year 11 and Year 12 students who lack basic necessities such as adequate housing, nutrition and medical care.
The latest OECD Teaching and Learning International Study – the world’s largest international survey on teaching and learning – says 66% of Australian upper secondary teachers work in schools where principals report that more than 10% of the students come from so-called “socio-economically disadvantaged homes”.
The figure puts Australia above Poland with 62%, almost on par with Mexico where the figure is 70%, and well above the average of 43% among countries surveyed.
In Norway, the figure is just 16%.
This has implications for resourcing:
“It is important to ensure that teachers in these schools are well equipped so that they can provide students with effective learning environments despite these potentially more challenging school environments that can be linked to having large numbers of students from socio-economically disadvantaged homes,” the report found.
I’ve lost contact with the progress of this matter, but can’t imagine that adequate resources are flowing to areas of need. Reading Julia Gillard’s book makes one realise how much she and Wayne Swan bent the system to squeeze out extra funding for schools while some $160 billion was found in budget savings across six budgets. That kind of commitment doesn’t exist in the LNP, probably not any longer in Labor either.
We should be concerned, however, that we live in a society where such levels of inequity exist. Wayne Swan in his book claims that inequality decreased in Australia on his watch. The data cited above stems from the end of his time. There is no prospect of improvement under Abbott.
I understand that out private school sector is the largest in the world. Part of our problem may be that we consolidate disadvantage in the public school sector.
The AAP/Guardian report was based on the analysis of data about upper secondary schooling from the 2013 OECD Teaching and Learning International Study (TALIS), published in December. Earlier a report relating to lower secondary schooling had been published, including a series of Country Notes, mainly about teachers and teaching.
In Australia teachers appear to be well qualified, with high job satisfaction, but the feeling of being under-appreciated. They seem to spend their day in much the same way as teachers elsewhere. My impression is that the get more professional development than the average, but it seems to be less effective.
41% of lower secondary teachers were men in Australia compared with 32% in TALIS countries. 61% of our principals are men compared within TALIS. Apparently we have the lowest proportion of women in the role of principal amongst the countries surveyed.
Finland and South Korea are among the world’s leaders in education. So it is worth asking what these countries do that is different. This TED article tries to answer that question by asking what they are doing that is right? What they found was two very different systems. Continue reading What the Top Education Countries do→
Politics is broken, is the shorter message of Mark’s post at The new social democrat. Mark, writing before Hockey’s budget speech predicted that the budget would be “horrible”.
He was right. There may have been a feeling that the bad news had been leaked early. In fact the true horror is being revealed in the detail coming out after the speech.The speech sounded like severe belt tightening with a raft of cuts (summary here). In the interview after the speech Sarah Ferguson nailed Hockey on at least two major points. The first is that ordinary folk will carry a bigger burden than the rich, not just proportionately, but in actual dollars. On one count $1400 for the rich and $3000 to $5000 for lower to middle income families.
In fact middle Australia, the poor, the young and the marginalised will be hammered in Hockey’s vision of an age of opportunity, rather than entitlement.
The Abbott government’s first budget revealed job seekers applying for Newstart or Youth Allowance, who have not been previously employed, will face a six-month waiting period of no income support before they are eligible for payments by undertaking 25 hours a week in the Work for the Dole program.
Once they have spent six months on the program, they will lose income support for another six months unless they undertake training or study.
People under 25 will not be eligible for the dole and instead will have to apply for Youth Allowance which is about $100 less a fortnight. Newstart and Youth Allowance will also be frozen for the next three years.
The hourly rate on Work for the Dole will be $10.20 for Newstart and $8.29 for Youth Allowance.
In the six months applicants for Newstart and Youth Allowance do not receive income support, they will be required to undertake government-funded job seeking programs.
For those thrown out of work Newstart will be limited. With some exceptions:
Newstart applicants will receive one month of income support for every year they worked before applying for the dole and exceptions to the six months…
I don’t think we can talk in terms of a general safety net any longer. We have instead active harassment in the name of stimulating greater personal responsibility. We are leaving a system where all are looked after in favour of a system where only the deserving are supportis severely conditional and incomplete.
Sole parents, single parents and parents of disabled children will be hardest hit under changes to family tax benefits, designed to save money and get primary carers back to work.
The second point coming out of the Ferguson/Hockey interview was that the Abbott government is intent on forcing the states to increase the GST by cutting the funding for schools and hospitals by $80 billion over the next 10 years. Hockey’s response was “States runs schools and states run the hospitals” and “All the GST goes to the states so it is up to them.”
That’s clear enough, but not what voters expected or were told to expect.
Mark quotes EMC research:
this week’s Essential Report suggests voters are expecting to take the fall for a budget emergency that is really just a false alarm.
Without believing the central premise of the budget, voters are left with a sick feeling they’ll pay for a budget that doesn’t fix the economy but rather punishes ordinary people in favour of the wealthy.
The most important thing about this Budget is that it symbolises the brokenness of Australian politics. It’s a tipping point, a crisis moment for the political class.
Everything they [the Government] think they learnt in politics school is wrong, and the focus groups must be feeding this back. We can see this reflected through the inconsistent and panicked messaging from the government.
Confected austerity economics will not work in a crisis of trust. Nor will “let’s all pull together” work in an age of upper middle class entitlement, generously fostered by John Howard’s electoral/fiscal calculus.
I still have some faith in Chris Bowen, who seems to me principled, articulate and genuine. I’d rather he gave the budget reply speech, but there is some hope for Shorten. He sounds less like a politician than many and that may eventually play in his favour.
Abbott has calibrated his message to mask his detailed promises about no cuts “full stop”. For example, he promised no cuts the the ABC and SBS, Instead $43.5 million is being taken out of their budget over the forward estimates. That’s 1% of general funding, plus cancellation of the Australia Network contract one year in, halving its budget. The ABC used the Australia Network funding to enhance its threadbare foreign coverage for the network generally.
Abbott is a silver tongued politician, master of slogans, but is sounding more and more like a salesman, inherently untrustworthy.
You don’t build a stronger Australia by shredding safety nets and increasing inequality.
Update: I thought I’d add here from this post the ABC FactCheck verdict showing how Hockey has added $68 billion to the deficit and essentially confected a budget ‘crisis’, as shown in this table:
Christopher Pyne said he was expecting a warm reception from education ministers yesterday. Seems it was heated to the point of being downright explosive. According to The World Today, Tasmanian Education Minister, the Greens Nick McKim, says Mr Pyne had thrown a stick of dynamite into the discussions.
“All in all ministers are very disappointed,” Coalition NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, who chaired the ministerial meeting, said.
“Here’s a unity ticket for you right here – a Labor minister, a Greens minister, National ministers, Liberal Party ministers, sticking up and unified behind Australian schools and behind funding certainty for Australian schools”
Pyne said “no-one should assume they will get less money”. Seems the government school sectors in the states that signed up to Gonski deals with Labor are expecting exactly that. Pyne seems to be strongly implying that if extra funds are needed for the states that didn’t sign up or for other aspects of his new scheme then it will come from the government school sectors of those states that did sign up.
Adrian Piccoli, the NSW minister, points out that this means that everything that is done in schools in 2014 will have to be done on the assumption that it may not flow through to 2015. McKim says we have “Christopher’s Crisis” rather than a “Shorten Shambles”.
Barrie Cassidy says that the Government assumed that it has a store of goodwill. He warns that it doesn’t.
“you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.
That’s Christopher Pyne, from the Brisbane Times piece, which is probably the clearest account of what is going on.
In simple terms, Pyne is going to honour the 2014 agreements, plus give the share owing to Queensland, WA and NT without expecting reciprocal commitments, but from 2015 there will be a “flatter, simpler, fairer” formula, within the same envelope of funding, but again without reciprocal commitments from the states and territories.
The LNP’s commitment on funding has only ever been for four years.
Presumably the LNP will have to change the law. Bronwyn Hinz at Crikey:
Another obstacle for Pyne is that the increased funding for school systems that signed up to Labor’s National Plan for School Improvement have been legislated for the period 2014-2019. The complexity of this legislation and a hostile Senate means that the Abbott government cannot just back away from these legislative commitments, and certainly cannot prevent the first additional funds from flowing before the start of the new school year.
Pyne claims that the Better Schools plan was incomprehensible an un-implementable. Certainly he declined a briefing from the Gonski panel and has never shown the slightest interest in Gonski’s findings. He plans to work from the old Howard scheme as a base.
Funnily enough, none of this is a surprise to me. It’s exactly what I expected from what was said before the elections. The statements by Abbott and Pyne back then were always a transparent snow job. Unlike Gillard’s “no carbon tax” statement, they intended to mislead. Continue reading Gonski gone→