In today’s Sun Herald, you may have come across a piece headlined, NSW public schools increasingly turning to cashed-up P&Cs for funding.
In brief the article points out that:
P&Cs are asking parents for annual voluntary contributions of $200 per child or more to help pay for education programs as well as iPads, upgrades to toilets and additional support teachers or in some cases to buy language textbooks, workbooks and to pay for student welfare support.
And to be clear, these are public schools we’re talking about. Not private.
The article goes on to suggest that it is not uncommon for public schools and P&Cs to have fundraising goals of in excess of $200,000.
Whilst some of the funds that schools raise may be spent on what you might perhaps call discretionary items – a minibus for example (although many schools rely on theirs for a whole host of reasons) – money spent on things like toilet blocks, student welfare, books and technology are not. They are necessities.
Schools don’t have enough money for the necessities.
So they reach out to their community. But clearly, this has repercussions.
Even schools in high socioeconomic surrounds will have families who do not fall into that category, and a lazy $100 isn’t that easy to come by. But it’s compounded in whole communities that simply don’t have that kind of money in their collective back pocket.
Much of the talk around funding in education is about Private v Public, but there is more to it than that. In the public system alone there are the haves & the have-nots.
This is where the needs-based funding model of David Gonski serves to address the issue. But as you’d no doubt be aware, the Australian Federal Government has said it won’t fund the final two years of that.
Since taking office as the Federal Education Minister, Senator Simon Birmingham’s mantra has been:
“In the end, what we know is just spending more money on schools doesn’t necessarily lift outcomes.”
I’m yet to meet a single person who believes that it would. Just spending more money.
In doing this, Senator Birmingham is creating a straw man argument – making a case against an opinion no one actually holds. To further advance his position, he then comes up with claims like this one during an interview with the SMH:
“Some officials have said, ‘We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do with the extra money, we’re just going to employ more teachers'”
‘Bullshit’ sorry, ‘Rubbish.’
Who are these ‘officials?’ And if by some small chance they actually do exist, and are officials of some description then they need to be relieved of their position immediately. (Just my 2 cents)
But the bottom line is this. By continually framing Gonski as an argument that schools want more money without having any idea what they are going to do with it, is misinformed at best, and disrespectful and manipulative at worst.
In many cases, Gonski isn’t about getting more money. It’s about getting enough.