April 22, 2013
Australia does need educational reform to prioritise the lowest performing students and to have a funding system that is both good, effective and equitable. The current political battle is over both the school funding arrangements, the states as partners holding constitutional responsibility for public education; and greater principal autonomy, in curriculum, assessment and reporting.
The current arrangements and policies limits accountability and contributes to growing resources and performance gaps between rich and poor schools, with the disadvantaged students suffering most. CoAG failed to deliver.
The Gillard Government's $2 for $1 school funding deal for the states and territories was rejected because the non-mining states lack the significant fiscal revenue to contribute significant additional funding of their own and it also meant the states losing a huge amount of control over how they spend this precious school funding. This goes to the heart of what federalism means in Australia.
The Coalition's position is that Australia's school funding system doesn't need reform and they will retain current inequitable arrangements that reinforce the ever-increasing social and academic divide between schools. The gaps between schools serving the rich and those serving the poor have grown, with the gaps marked by growing differences in school size, student intake, resources and achievement.