Rudd's education revolution denies school autonomy
10th November 2009

Fairfax Press' National Times.

Fail: education revolution scores 3/10
KEVIN DONNELLY
November 10, 2009 - 6:31AM
The very changes needed to strengthen the education system and raise standards are not happening under Kevin Rudd's education revolution. Instead of supporting competition and choice and giving all schools, especially government schools, the resources, autonomy and freedom to get on with the job, in the ALP's so-called revolution all roads lead to Canberra. It is highly centralised, bureaucratic and statist in nature and scores a three out of 10.

During the lead up to the 2007 federal election, Rudd's promise of an education revolution was centre stage and a vote winner for the ALP opposition. Copying the then Howard government's education agenda, Rudd promised a back-to-basics approach to the curriculum, schools and teachers being held accountable for performance and continued funding to non-government schools.

On being elected, Rudd, like former British prime minister Tony Blair, defined education as a central issue and stated that voters should judge his government's success or otherwise on its ability to raise standards and strengthen schools.

In the past two years, the Rudd Government, with the help of like-minded ALP state and territory governments, has embarked on a long march through the education system. Whether a national curriculum, national testing, national teacher registration, holding schools accountable or merit-based pay for teachers, the reality is that Australian schools are being radically transformed.

Is Rudd's education revolution successful and will standards improve? Based on its record to date, the answer is "no". The cost of the computer program has blown out by millions, the Auditor-General is investigating the waste and mismanagement of the school infrastructure program and schools are losing their independence and being micro-managed by Canberra.

The implementation of the school infrastructure program provides a striking illustration of the reasons why Rudd's education revolution is doomed to failure. Government schools, instead of having the freedom and flexibility to decide how the "building the education revolution" funding should be spent, are being forced to accept off-the-shelf plans from head office while community desires are ignored.

Compare this centralised, bureaucratic approach with the autonomy Catholic and independent schools have when deciding what best suits their schools.

Rudd's education revolution is also highly statist and top down in its approach. Australian schools are facing a raft of government imposed policies, programs and requirements, which taken together, will overwhelm schools in red tape, intrusive accountability requirements and centrally imposed directives.

The Rudd/Gillard policies and programs are couched in the ALP's cultural-left rhetoric, are linked to funding to ensure compliance and impose an inflexible, bureaucratic driven straight-jacket on schools.

Changes that would raise standards, such as school vouchers where the money follows the child and more parents can choose between government and non-government schools and giving schools autonomy and flexibility, are denied and the danger is that nothing will improve.

Worse still, in relation to the forthcoming review of the Federal Government's funding formula to Catholic and independent schools, the early signs are that the Rudd Government will overhaul the existing funding model to reduce funding to Catholic and independent schools and redirect it to government schools or to help alleviate massive government debt.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is director of Education Standards Institute (ESI), a new conservative education webpage www.edstandards.com.au He is also the author of Australia's Education Revolution: How Kevin Rudd Won and Lost the Education Wars.

 

 

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Rudd's education revolution denies school autonomy
10th November 2009
Fairfax Press' National Times.Fail: education revolution scores 3/10KEVIN DONNELLYNovember 10, 2009 - 6:31AMThe very changes needed to strengthen the education system and raise standards are not h...

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