Gillard budget 'F' for education
12th May 2011
In the following and on the Drum Opinion I argue that the Gillard federal budget fails in relation to education and that the ALP's history of delivering on educational promises is abysmal.
Kevin Ruddís slogan Ďeducation revolutioní has long since disappeared
from the federal governmentís political lexicon and Julia Gillard no
longer touts herself as the minister for education and productivity but
itís clear that the ALP is refocussing on education in an attempt to
salvage its political capital.
Evidence includes last nightís
budget commitment of $1.7 billion to reform the nationís TAFE system,
$22 million for apprentices, $222 million for school chaplains and $18.1
million for Teach Next.
In the week before the budget Prime
Minister Gillard also announced a $1 million performance-based plan to
reward successful teachers, argued that mothers on welfare should be
compelled to return to school and, according to an AAP report detailing a
speech give at given at a Canberra primary school, stated that
education and training is a budget priority on the basis that ďthere is
nothing more important to the nationís future that what is happening in
That Gillard is playing the education card should
not surprise. In October last year, while overseas, the Prime Minister
famously admitted that she had little interest in foreign affairs
preferring, instead, to be in a classroom as education was the reason
she entered parliament.
During her time as education minister,
when she was responsible for implementing the Rudd Governmentís much
vaunted education revolution, Gillard felt she was on safe ground and
won media plaudits for forcing increased testing and accountability on
schools, championing merit based pay for teachers and initiating plans
for a national curriculum and school reporting framework.
by the media reaction it appears that Gillardís strategy is working. One
national newspaper last week commended Gillard for her ďlong standing
commitment to educationĒ and very few, if any, in the Canberra media
clique appear willing or able to offer any criticisms of Gillardís
attempt to re-badge herself as an education Prime Minister.
Such a critique is long overdue.
initiatives like trying to increase the number of apprentices and
tradesman by reforming the TAFE system and ignoring that fact that what
we most need is a return to technical schools with a dedicated
curriculum is a recipe for continued failure.
million to introduce a merit-based system to reward high-performing
teachers might make for a good headline, but the reality is that it is
also a flawed initiative that ignores the realities of classrooms and
how schools best work.
There is also the reality that Gillardís
record when education minister and the policies associated with the
ALPís education revolution have done little to strengthen schools, raise
standards, help students or ensure that teachers are better resourced
The Building the Education Revolution (BER)
program has been costly, inefficient and wasteful as schools have been
forced to accept off-the-shelf designs delivering over priced and, in
may cases, useless buildings.
The promise to give every senior
secondary student a computer and all schools access to high-speed,
broadband internet access remains unfulfilled, as does the 2007 election
promise to give every secondary school a trades centre. No wonder last
nightís budget accepted the inevitable and admitted that such
initiatives are years away from being delivered.
curriculum, originally promised to be available to schools at the
beginning of this year, will not be finalised until October, with the
starting date put back to 2013. Notwithstanding Gillardís late
conversion to teaching the Bible and introducing students to the
nationís Western heritage, itís also the case that the history and
English curriculums are politically correct and new-age with a undue
emphasis on sustainability, indigenous and Asian perspectives.
education minister, Julia Gillard boasted that making test results and
school data public on the My School website was one of her triumphs.
Itís here again, that the ALP governmentís rhetoric outstrips reality
and instead of helping schools, the opposite is the case.
over-emphasis on standardised national literary and numeracy tests
associated with NAPLAN (otherwise known by teachers as NAPALM) is
narrowing the curriculum by forcing schools to teach to the test and
pressuring schools to adopt suspicious practices like refusing to allow
all children to be involved. Ranking schools is also leading to many
schools being unfairly stigmatised as failures.
are in addition to the widely held view amongst test experts, both here
and overseas, that the results of tests like NAPLAN are often unreliable
and invalid. Even the official body responsible for NAPLAN, the
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), warns
against using the results to measure school and teacher performance.
wonder the New York testing and accountability regime introduced by
Joel Klein (who Gillard invited to Australia and lauded as an example
that we must follow) has now been proven to be a flawed and wasteful
exercise in political spin and populist sloganeering.
merit-based programs, one of the key policies in the budget and one that
Gillard boasts as evidence of her new won passion for education, are
also increasingly seen as impossible to implement and
Anyone who has taught will know that
teaching, by its nature, is a collaborative affair and, while there are
teachers who are more effective than others, it is difficult, if not
impossible, to properly identify those for bonus payments.
taught Year 12 for many years and achieved solid results but even I
admitted that the reason my students did so well was because of the
groundwork laid by teachers in Years 9, 10 and 11. There is also the
danger of a performance pay process becoming so bureaucratic and time
consuming that it takes valuable time away from the classroom.
all Gillardís rhetoric and supposed passion about education, the
reality is that her track record bears little scrutiny. Itís also the
case that the Prime Minister and her compliant educrats are ignoring the
issues that are most pressing for teachers and that are the greatest
cause of falling standards and teachers leaving the profession.
behaved and disruptive students are issues that teachers consistently
place at the top of the list when asked about what most concerns them.
Itís also true that many beginning teachers leave the profession after
four to five years because of the dead and inflexible weight of the
bureaucratic and time wasting processes associated with the ALPís
education revolution they are being forced to endure.
longer have the freedom and time to teach as hours and hours are spent
every week preparing for tests and other accountability measures,
fulfilling registration and certification requirements, undertaking
irrelevant and faddish professional development programs and being made
to implement the most recent dictate emanating from the Ministerís
Based on announcements and speeches since her return from
the Royal Wedding, itís clear that Prime Minister Gillard knows she is
facing political oblivion and that she has decided that one way to try
and resurrect her governmentís political fortunes is to revisit her
interest in education.
Last nightís budget initiatives and her governmentís record since being elected in 2007 prove that such a hope is illusory.
Kevin Donnelly is Director of Education Standards Institute and a former chief-of-staff to Minister Kevin Andrews.
Responses to this Post
> Tame the black dog
> Non-government school win the day
> National curriculum review
> Cultural-left rules education
> Fix rowdy classrooms
> Beware the black dog
> Meritocracy good - OK
> Overcoming depression
> Rudd government removing barnacles
> Purpose of education
> Judeo-Christian values ignored
> Myths, fables and legends
> No more victimhood
> Gillard wrong to copy Blair
> Media bias against non-government schools
> Direct Instruction best
> Cultural literacy rules
> UK curriculum back to basics
> Bonus pay for teachers - a bad idea
> Gonski Report released
> Non-government schools in danger
> Gonski a threst to school funding
> Gillard's education revolution a failure
> School choice good
> Why gays/lesbians should not marry
> Garrett endorses school choice
> Gonski research papers a danger to non-government schools
> School funding and politics of envy
> Wheeler Centre public/private school funding debate
> Julia Gillard fails as Prime Minister
> Mad as a cut snake as insulting as meow!
> Wheeler Centre school funding debate
> Non-government schools deserve funding
> Rude students destroy teaching
> PM Julia Gillard not a social conservative
> My School 2.0 will be used to cut funding to non-government schools
> Gillard cannot be trusted on school funding
> 'F' for teaching standards
> Australia - celebrate Western heritage and Christian tradition
> Rudd/Gillard education revolution - fail!
> Non-government schools promote equity
> Non-government schools promote equity and success
> Faith based schools have the right to discriminate
> National curriculum should not be compulsory
> Gillard Government drops education revolution
> Gillard cannot hide her socialist past
> Gillard's funding promise cannot be believed
> Myths and lies about school funding
> Give all schools autonomy and promote school choice
> ALP can't be trusted on school funding
> Islamic curriculum one sided and biased
> Julia Gillard's Geography new-age and PC
> Julia Gillard left-wing and as guilty as Rudd
> Julia Gillard - political opportunist
> History wars
> ALP's education revolution flawed and counter-productive
> New York example has failed
> national testing educationally unsound
> High social mobility in OZ
> I often have doubts about..
> History curriculum PC and dumbed down
> national curriculum English C+
> Gillard refuses to support non-government schools
> testing and ranking schools is flawed
> Similar to Australia, where many..
> School league tables bad
> Published in Education Review..
> Is there an educationa..
> In the following article posted..
> The problem of badly behaved students..
> Extract from book in Weekend Australian..
> School autonomy the way to go
> Julia Gillard, the Commonwealth..
> Why I left the lefties
> Why I am a conservative
> Why the Bishop is wrong on faith and rights
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12th May 2011
In the following and on the Drum Opinion I argue that the Gillard federal budget fails in relation to education and that the ALP's history of delivering on educational promises is abysmal.Kevin Rudd...
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