Guest Post: Blaise Joseph The flawed school funding model at the heart of Gonski

Gonski 1.0 was fundamentally flawed to begin with. There is no reason to think Gonski 2.0 will be any better.

Another report on education is not needed. What is needed is a reform of the obvious flaws in the current school funding model.

The Gonski 1.0 school funding model was based around a funding benchmark, known as the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), with two components: a base level of funding per student; and loadings (extra funding) for schools with disadvantaged students.

The base level of funding was calculated using the average costs of high-achieving schools according to 2008-2010 NAPLAN results and 2009 school income data (outdated even in 2012 when Gonski 1.0 was released). The loadings were arbitrary and not based on any rigorous evidence.

And following the Gillard government’s negotiations with the states and non-government schools, the criteria for disadvantage was expanded so much that the majority of Australian students are now considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive extra funding—if you’re not disadvantaged in some way then you’re in the minority, apparently.

This is obviously not financially viable in the long-term and means the school funding benchmark — which the Turnbull government will spend an additional $18.6 billion to achieve over the next decade — is unreasonably and unjustifiably high.

Surely it would have made more sense for the government to review the deeply defective funding model first, before picking a fight with some independent schools and the entire Catholic school system based on arbitrary claims of ‘overfunding’.

 

Blaise Joseph is an Education Policy Analyst at The Centre for Independent Studies and author of The Fantasy of Gonski Funding: the ongoing battle over school spending released 30 April.

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38 Responses to Guest Post: Blaise Joseph The flawed school funding model at the heart of Gonski

  1. RobK

    I find it hard to understand why education doesn’t seem to benefit from productivity gains due to technology as seen in other areas. In theory, results should be up and costs down.

  2. test pattern

    What would u expect from a man who allowed the ANZ to facilitate Malaysia’s 1MDB money laundering scandal, fiscal probity?

  3. classical_hero

    We’ve increased funding yet results are down. So the answer is to give more money.

  4. Empire GTHO Phase III

    It only took 48 hours for my parish to swing into action. The Cafeteria Catholics might be apathetic about GetPell, but they have touchy hip pockets.

    Tim Wilson’s seat might be safe as houses, but we want him to feel the pain like six ways with Mandingo.

    Talkbull is going to cop it bigly on this one.

  5. jonesy

    Will this thought bubble last until the grinning idiot gets back from the US? When he realises the crusade raised against him AND the polls crash even harder ….pity help any coalition cabinet member that has put their creditability…Simon?…on the line.

  6. Exit Stage Right

    Shallow Mal and his cohorts are incredibly dumb if they think this is a vote winner. I just keep thinking this bloke has got to be a Labor plant, everything he has done is Labor Lite. To even consider a Gillard policy is bad enough as we all know that none of their policies work, but to actually appoint Gonski to further this unfunded fraud is despicable. You lost me quite a while back Mal.

  7. Zyconoclast

    Tim Wilson’s seat might be safe as houses, but we want him to feel the pain like six ways with Mandingo.

    For Timmy, that’s not a threat. It’s a fantasy.
    This will only cause him to ‘double down.’

  8. Chris

    Dammit Mal, stop doing this!
    How is the indignation of shooters going to stand out, compared with the entire former Liberal voteherd shrieking at the last two senior Liberal officeholders in the state?

    One thing Malcolm learned from predecessors Howard and Fraser – the ‘nice’ people call you a ‘statesman’ for damaging the base and betraying Liberal beliefs by joining the leftist witch-hunters,.

    Looks like he is angling for a post-political ‘Statesman HSV’ label in the media, after he gets booted and has to resort to gallery openings for free wine and finger snacks.

  9. Zyconoclast

    Shallow Mal and his cohorts are incredibly dumb if they think this is a vote winner. I just keep thinking this bloke has got to be a Labor plant, everything he has done is Labor Lite.

    Why Malcolm Turnbull is a Dangerous Leftist Ideologue

  10. John Comnenus

    My son goes to a Catholic School in Canberra that is on the Turnbull hit list. On the other side of the bike path is the local public school. Students going to the Catholic School get about $7500 in public funding, students going to the public school get almost double that in public funding. How s that fair? Why are my children punished because I don’t want to send them to Union controlled, politically correct, public school?

  11. Texas Jack

    Glad we paid Gonski and his band of edu-gurus so much to dream up such rocket science in a schools funding model. Couldn’t possibly have been done on the back on RAAF drinks coaster…

  12. Tim Neilson

    Why are my children punished because I don’t want to send them to Union controlled, politically correct, public school?
    Your question rather answers itself, doesn’t it John.

  13. Dr Fred Lenin

    Being a close neighbour of ruddbulls at Piper Point comrade gonski would be familiar with the state school system ,lots of kids from there go to state school . He was also a mate of giliards and helped her lay the gonski mine when the reds were beaten by abbott. Hed be happy now the well done comrsdes. reds have their own man in the liberals to finance his mine and the ndis one too as well as the alpbc ,sbs ,and nbn making sure the budget will never be in surplus again .well done comrades ,chavez and castro would be proud of youse .

  14. Pete

    Yawn. I could have told you that the CUS answer would be vouchers and charters even before they did any analydo

  15. OldOzzie

    Blaise Joseph,

    an excellent study and it is bleeding obvious that Simon Birmingham Minister for Education has not read it – I have passed it onto to all North Shore and Northern Beaches State and Federal MPs and will follow up with Tony Abbot’s (my local Federal Member) Office on Monday for him to put your report to the Tuesday Liberal Party meeting before the Budget.

    I agree with your proposed options

    There are viable alternative school funding arrangements
    for governments to consider.

    – Transferring all school policy and funding responsibilities to the states (as recommended by the National
    Commission of Audit in 2014) would allow states to have school funding arrangements more appropriate for
    local needs, and the federal government would be able to avoid continual arguments with the states regarding
    allocation of school funding.

    – School vouchers — a way of funding schools that gives parents a voucher for each child which they can
    spend on any school they choose — would be a simple, transparent, and fair funding model if implemented at a state level.

    – Charter schools —government funded but privately managed schools — if implemented at a state level,
    have the potential to significantly help disadvantaged students without substantial increases in government
    funding

  16. OldOzzie

    From Today’s Australian Financial review

    Simon Birmingham: The man behind Turnbull’s stunning Gonski political strike

    He was one of the key backers of Malcolm Turnbull who helped make him prime minister in 2015. Since then he’s been a senior cabinet minister in the education portfolio.

    But only this week did South Australian senator Simon Birmingham finally make it into the national spotlight. And what a spectacular entrance it was.

    In a stunning political strike executed in two days, Birmingham presented a resolution for university funding, which had been stalled for three years, and then ripped the ground from under Labor by stealing the Gonski school funding plan, its signature policy.

    How far can Birmingham go? His political ambition shone even as a teenager. The 1991 yearbook from Gawler High School, in a working class district north of Adelaide, shows Birmingham in a cartoon with a speech bubble: “I may not be the SRC president but I sure as hell wish I was!”

    He is one of the few Turnbull ministers not to have had a private school education. His public school, working class background is something he mentions a lot as education minister, holding himself up as an example of what education can do for the prospects of disadvantaged young people.

    He told the Universities Australia conference this year that he was a “student from a low SES urban fringe high school, neither of whose parents attended university.”

    But he did become “especially friendly”, as Birmingham said in a later interview, with his campaign manager Courtney Morcombe. He and Morcombe, a rising business figure in Adelaide, are now married with two young girls. Morcombe is also chair of the board of governors of elite Adelaide school, St Peter’s Girls.

    His moderate Liberal views were clear from the start in his maiden speech.

    “You do not need to be Einstein to work out that continued growth using current resources will ultimately be unsustainable,” he told the senate.

    “You should not even need to be 100 per cent convinced of the science behind global warming to know that the environmental footprint of man across this planet must have its limitations.

    “We need to produce more food with less; more energy with less; more fresh water without depleting that available to future generations; and, possibly, fewer people, or at least have a better dispersal of the world’s population.”

    He and Pyne, who is his Canberra housemate, were both deeply into the plot to make Turnbull prime minister. When it was successful Pyne moved sideways out of the education portfolio and Birmingham took his job.

    One assumes (But one could be wrong) from He and Morcombe, a rising business figure in Adelaide, are now married with two young girls. Morcombe is also chair of the board of governors of elite Adelaide school, St Peter’s Girls. that his kids go to a private school

    From The Adelaide Advertiser – November 13, 2015

    “They will most likely be private schooled,” Birmingham says of his own children. “That’s been an interesting discussion between the two of us; it wasn’t a settled arrangement . . . by any means. We toured the local primary school…unfortunately it was an underwhelming experience.”

    He sounds a bit guilty that he can afford to make the choice, when many cannot. But he argues that it comes down to the teacher rather than the school. Public or private, some teachers will be ordinary and some exceptional. Perhaps he was thinking of that former Westbourne Park principal, Madge Herde

  17. ned

    Under the current system, everyone is forced to provide funding for schools, regardless of how poor the quality of education provided by those schools. Under a private system, various schools would compete for students and for funding. Both parents and businesspeople would be more willing to devote their resources to the better schools. Students would be the ultimate beneficiaries of such competition.

    https://mises.org/library/free-market-education

  18. ned

    “an educational market in which parents are responsible for paying for their own children’s education.” We agree also on “the twin evils of public education: involuntary funding and compulsory education.” In our ideal (libertarian) world, government would play no role in schooling–neither compelling schooling nor funding schooling. Parental responsibility and the free market would reign supreme.

    https://mises.org/library/friedman-v-rockwell

  19. ned

    The state uses tax funding to build schools, and it uses the regulatory system to restrict the creation of rival schools. This is the classic mark of a monopoly.

    https://mises.org/library/state%E2%80%99s-education-monopoly-increases-prices-and-destroys-choice

  20. Tel

    All solved in one simple word:

    Vouchers

  21. Tel

    OldOzzie #2372784: Transferring all school policy and funding responsibilities to the states … School vouchers … Charter schools

    None of which are mutually exclusive. If the states are held responsible, at least one of those states might decide to go for the voucher option. If a charter school is privately managed they can still run a successful school within such a voucher system.

    As a kind of libertarian leaning classical liberal, I wouldn’t say vouchers are a perfect solution, but they are better than where we are at now, and they allow some degree of competitive marketplace. Of course we also need results tables so that parents have some reasonable information to work from.

  22. Fisky

    There is sadly very little evidence in favour of either vouchers or charter schools. There is virtually nothing to show that they have a positive impact on student achievement. If the CIS are looking for a non-ideological way to save taxpayer money, they need to focus on curriculum and instructional methodology first.

  23. Fisky

    It’s incredible that most of the education debate is about funding, when in fact it barely rates a mention in Hattie’s list of effect sizes on student achievement. I’m sorry to say that the classical liberal movement is wasting its time on a very low order priority. Focus like a laser on what is proven to work, avoid getting sidetracked onto gimmicks like vouchers.

  24. JC

    There is sadly very little evidence in favour of either vouchers or charter schools

    Children locked into a geographic locality, teachers unions having their own way. These things aren’t evidence?

  25. Fisky

    Children locked into a geographic locality, teachers unions having their own way. These things aren’t evidence?

    No, what I’m saying is that there is very little evidence that a charter school will have a positive impact on the achievement of a given student, over and above that of a state-run comprehensive.

  26. Fisky

    The basic reason for this is that many charter schools follow progressive instructional practices, student-centred learning, and other fads that actually detract from student achievement. This is far, far more important than whether a school is publicly or privately owned (I would argue that the ownership of a school is probably the least relevant factor).

  27. JC

    No, what I’m saying is that there is very little evidence that a charter school will have a positive impact on the achievement of a given student, over and above that of a state-run comprehensive.

    It’s about propensity. There’s a better chance for a kid to make his mark and reach his or her potential at a charter school than some of those shockers that pass for schools. But there’s also a decent point to be made that if the kid is a dunce, the kid is going to be a dunce either at Melbourne Grammar of Broadmeadows high.

  28. Fisky

    It’s about propensity. There’s a better chance for a kid to make his mark and reach his or her potential at a charter school than some of those shockers that pass for schools. But there’s also a decent point to be made that if the kid is a dunce, the kid is going to be a dunce either at Melbourne Grammar of Broadmeadows high.

    But there’s virtually no evidence in the research that charters have an impact either way. There are some individual charters that do very well, and a whole lot of them that are awful because they are founded on “progressive” teaching methodologies that have always failed.

  29. JC

    There are some individual charters that do very well, and a whole lot of them that are awful because they are founded on “progressive” teaching methodologies that have always failed.

    There’s the problem right there then.

  30. Fisky

    The starting point for any discussion of education policy has to be instructional, rather than funding. It is possible to teach children very well on a small budget. It is also possible to ruin them despite having 3 TA’s per class and laptops for all. It makes virtually no difference whether they are in public or private schools.

    See John Hattie’s meta-studies on achievement effect sizes. Very interesting to note that “Class Size” has very little effect on student achievement, while “Charters” rank close to zero.

    https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/

  31. Fisky

    The author of the post suggests that the assumptions behind Gonski are a “fantasy” and I fully agree, based on evidence (Hattie) and also recent PISA scores. But the author also promotes school vouchers, despite admitting –

    There is conflicting evidence about the impact of school vouchers on student achievement.147 Overall, it appears that there is no significant link, either positive or negative, between vouchers and student outcomes, as the impacts vary depending on the context and implementation.1

    Which suggests to me, we are debating the wrong thing. It’s not Gonski versus Vouchers (or some other model). Neither will have any real impact at all. We could save a LOT of money by simply abandoning progressive instructional practices, de-registering Initial Teacher Training programs that fail to include units on explicit/direct instruction, and requiring every school to have a centrally controlled disciplinary/correctional facility with clear consequences for misbehavior.

  32. stackja

    Reinstate 1950s curricula!

  33. Tel

    Overall, it appears that there is no significant link, either positive or negative, between vouchers and student outcomes,

    If the choice is Chile vs Venezuela then I’d be going for Chile.

    That said, I think that if Chavez had restrained himself to redistribution into some education programs for the poor, and if he had retired according to his own constitution, Venezuela could have come out significantly better than it is today.

  34. Chris

    Vouchers do not address the problems in teacher education and recruitment. All teachers pass through the modern indoctrination centres. The good ones survive and teach well because the filters cannot entirely prevent good people doing good work.

    There are lots of teachers now in the ‘looking for work’ pool who apply to charter schools, faith schools, wherever is recruiting but thegood teachers are horribly under-represented in the recruitment pool.

    Recruitment is much worse than a random chance of a good selection, unless the recruiter is skilled and working a network for good candidates. So a charter school starting out may have a lot of trouble raising quality because they can’t get the candidates whose proactive successes made the independence movement look good at the start.

  35. Tel

    Vouchers do not address the problems in teacher education and recruitment.

    Vouchers create incentives for the schools to address those problems.

  36. Fisky

    Vouchers create incentives for the schools to address those problems.

    Unfortunately, there is no evidence that they do that.

  37. .

    Fisky
    #2372987, posted on May 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm
    There is sadly very little evidence in favour of either vouchers or charter schools. There is virtually nothing to show that they have a positive impact on student achievement. If the CIS are looking for a non-ideological way to save taxpayer money, they need to focus on curriculum and instructional methodology first.

    Dishonest bullshit.

  38. .

    stackja
    #2373042, posted on May 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm
    Reinstate 1950s curricula!

    Yeah sure. Let’s not teach kids about lasers and microprocessors? Are you completely off your bonce?

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