You may have even heard of the man who headed up the review advising the government on how to make changes – David Gonski, a well known and successful business leader.
The Gonski Review, as it’s known, recommended major changes to the way State and Federal Governments allocate their funding to our schools.
The review recommended a $5 billion a year injection of funding into public and private schools and changes to the way money is distributed to ensure it is going where it is most needed.
On Monday, the Prime Minister announced her response to the report, and said she would commit the Australian Government to:
Ensure that by 2025 Australia is ranked as a top 5 country in the world for the performance of our students in Reading, Science, Mathematics, and for providing our children with a high-quality and high-equity education system.
What a great idea. How will she do this?
The Prime Minister says the improvements will be achieved by:
• Lifting teacher quality, including requiring more classroom experience before graduation and higher entry requirements for the teaching profession.
• More power for principals, including over budgets and staff selection.
• More information for parents through My School.
Ok, so what’s the catch? Actually there are two.
First, the money. This plan will cost around $6.5 billion and it will take six years to fully implement. My Miss Three will be well into her school years by then but she’ll still be young enough to benefit from a more ambitious, better funded schooling system. The PM says she’ll find a way to get the money and she’ll cut other things to make it work, but we’re not yet sure exactly where it comes from.
Second, not everyone is agreed. These changes will need to be supported by State and Federal Governments. I know! Frustrating. So you can expect some argy bargy along the way as we debate the pros and cons of the proposals in coming months.
For what it’s worth, I agree with Sam Seaborn, the dreamy fictional character from The West Wing played by Rob Lowe, who once said about education:
Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense.
I’d vote for a candidate who said that! And here’s a little Rob Lowe just to show you what the candidate posters would look like 🙂