Greens Party to cut funding to non-government schools
11th November 2010

The Victorian election is on the 27th of November and while both major political parties have promised to properly fund Catholic and independent schools the Greens Party's policy is to cut funding.  In the following and on The Drum I argue that non-government schools deserve to be properly funded.

In the context of the Victorian election, government school supporters like the Australian Education Union have condemned both the ALP and the Liberals for promising to increase funding to Catholic and independent schools.

Unlike the Greens Party, that wants to take money away from non-government schools, both the Liberal and the Labor parties support parents' right to choose.

Increased funding to non-government schools is on the money. A recent Herald Sun investigation shows that private school enrolments are surging and it's not just Victoria. Nationally, between 1998 and 2008 growth in government school enrolments flatlined at 1.1 per cent while Catholic and independent schools grew by 21.9 per cent.

Across Australia some 33 per cent of students now go to non-government schools and in Victoria the figure rises to over 44 per cent at years 11 and 12.

It shouldn't surprise that parents are voting with their feet, turning their backs on government schools and choosing Catholic and independent schools for their children.

Research shows that non-government schools, even after adjusting for whether students come from advantaged or disadvantaged backgrounds, get better results in literacy and numeracy tests, year 12 exams and getting students into university.

Compared to government schools, Catholic and independent schools have stronger classroom discipline, a more academic curriculum and such schools better reflect the values that parents see as important.

It also shouldn't surprise that groups like the left-wing Australian Education Union and the watermelon Greens Party (green on the outside but socialist red on the inside) want to destroy non-government schools by forcing state and federal governments to cut funding.

Given the November state election, the AEU is running a public campaign to force Victoria's politicians to cut funding to non-government schools.

Like the teacher union, the Greens Party also argues that non-government schools are over-funded and only serve the rich and promise, if it gets political control, to take money away and force non-government school parents to pay more for their children's education.

Instead of giving in to critics, it makes more sense that both the ALP and the Liberals agree to support Catholic and independent schools and guarantee that schools are properly funded.

The facts are that non-government schools have been underfunded for years. While state school students, on average, get $12,639 in funding from state and federal governments, non-government students only receive $6,606. Schools and parents have to pay the rest.

The saving to governments is about $6,000 a year for each student, adding up to a saving of about $7 billion a year. It's also true that the state school system would collapse if it had to enrol all those thousands of students currently in non-government schools.

Critics like the AEU argue that non-government schools are drowning in government funding. Wrong. Wealthier non-government schools like Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar only get 13.5 per cent of the cost to government of educating a state school student. Even less well off non-government schools only get 70 per cent of the state school cost.

When she was minister for Education, Prime Minister Gillard argued that there was no place for the old politics of class war and battles between government and non-government schools.

Gillard argued that every child, regardless of school attended, deserves a properly-funded and well-resourced education. It's also true that the right to choose a school is guaranteed by national and international human rights agreements.

While it is true that both major political parties in Victoria support school choice and have promised to increase funding, at the national level parents will have to wait until next year to find out what the Commonwealth Government will decide about funding.

As minister for Education, Julia Gillard set up a committee to review school funding and it is due to report in 2011. One wonders whether the Commonwealth will follow Victoria's example and guarantee that non-government schools are properly funded?



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Greens Party to cut funding to non-government schools
11th November 2010
The Victorian election is on the 27th of November and while both major political parties have promised to properly fund Catholic and independent schools the Greens Party's policy is to cut funding.&...

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