Posts Tagged ‘Government Funding’

If Teachers Were Paid More I Wouldn’t Have Become One

March 20, 2012

Another year, another impending strike. I know I am a lone voice on this  one, but I find the notion of teachers striking very distasteful and selfish. The job of a teacher is to support and nurture their students. When a teacher decides not to front up to work, they are robbing children of a day of school.

I have never met a teacher that went into the caper for the money. It is a well-known fact that teachers don’t get paid vast sums of money. Partly, this is due to tradition and partly it is due to the fact that Governments simply cannot afford to offer large pay increases across the board.

Am I suggesting that teachers should not be paid more? Absolutely not. I think I work hard enough to justify an increase of salary (currently 3% less than a public school teacher). There is enough wasted money spent on education, I think it would be quite appropriate for some of that misspent money to be allocated to teachers.

What I don’t agree with is the argument that teachers should be given a marked increase. If that was to happen before I started my teacher training, I never would have become a teacher. A large wage increase would have led to a greater popularity in teacher enrolments. The flow on from this would have been that to get into a teaching course, the tertiary rank (based on Year 12 results) would have been much harder. I simply would not have had the grades to get a place.

Some would see that as a positive. Teachers should, according to many, posses outstanding academic credentials. After all, the smarter the teacher, the better the teacher, right?

Not necessarily. I was a late bloomer. I struggled throughout school. My teachers found me very frustrating. No matter how much I applied myself, simply passing was a huge challenge for me. And yet, it is this struggle that has made me become a decent teacher. It has provided me with patience and it allows me to understand the struggles of students with learning difficulties and confidence issues. I try to be the very teacher I felt I needed, but never had.

Whilst I believe that teachers do a wonderful job and they deserve to be paid accordingly, I would like to reach that point without strikes and without Education Unions (they shouldn’t be allowed to be called the Education Union – they aren’t representing what is best for education). I would like potential teachers to join this wonderful profession more for the passion and dedication they have for the job than the money.

I expect that I will be critcised roundly for my stance. I look forward to reading your take on this.

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Pitting Private vs Public Schools is Bad for Education

February 22, 2012

The fallout of the Gonski Report into educational spending has resulted in the typically predictable bashing of private schools. There is a misguided notion that by funding private schools, Governments are robbing the needs of struggling public schools.

This is simply not the case.

I stand by my remarks from last year:

The continued debate between private and public school funding tires me out. I am a big believer of a well-funded (i.e. wisely funded) public school sector as well as a thriving private school sector. There is no reason why parents can’t be given choice and why supporting private schools must come at the expense of quality public education.

This is where the “Moneyball” analogy fits in.

Moneyball is the true story of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. Oakland is severely restricted due to the lowest salary constraints in baseball. Winning means beating teams with much better infrastructure and player payment capacities. Billy is presented with the unenviable task of finding a winning team with the miniscule budget offered. Together with a Harvard economics major, a system is devised that uses statistical data to analyse and value players they pick for the team.

Public schools need to take the same approach. Just like the big baseball teams of the time, plenty of money is spent on public schools, but much of it is wasted money. I look at education in a very traditional way. Whilst it is ideal to have the best sporting fields, technologies and building designs, none of these ingredients has been proven to be essential for teaching and learning the curriculum. The school across the road may be able to give each child their own i-Pad, but that shouldn’t explain a marked difference in maths, science or english results. A teacher should be able to deliver on the curriculum with or without such devices.

Whilst many get worked up when Governments subsidise private schools, there is a good reason why they do it.

1. It takes billions off the budget bottom line. This saves Governments money, resulting in reduced taxes and smaller class sizes in public schools.

2. It allows private schools to lower their fees. This is crucial for parents who are by no means wealthy, but are prepared to scrimp and save (and sometimes take on multiple jobs and a second mortgage) to get their children into private schools. These people should be commended. They work long hours, weekends, give up overseas travel and big screen TV’s, just to give their kids the best education possible. Government subsidies allow that to happen.

In Australia, the Government gives $13,000 to every public school per student. Private schools get $5,000. Factor in to the equation that many private schools are not elite schools with truck loads of money and resources (I work in such a private school, where I earn considerably less than a public school teacher), and you realise that the subsidy shouldn’t detract from a thriving public education system.

By constantly drawing attention to private schools, we risk bringing the private school system down to the public level. What we should be doing instead is trying to get the public school system improved to the level where it gives its private school equivalent a run for its money. That way, you have a private school that sets the bar for top quality education and a public school system that is structured to be able to go toe-to-toe with them based on prudent spending, good decision-making and a workforce of supported and fairly paid teachers.

The Education Version of “Moneyball”

December 23, 2011

The continued debate between private and public school funding tires me out. I am a big believer of a well-funded (i.e. wisely funded) public school sector as well as a thriving private school sector. There is no reason why parents can’t be given choice and why supporting private schools must come at the expense of quality public education.

This is where the “Moneyball” analogy fits in.

Moneyball is the true story of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. Oakland is severly restricted due to the lowest salary constraints in baseball. Winning means beating teams with much better infrastructure and player payment capacities. Billy is presented with the unenviable task of finding a winning team with the miniscule budget offered. Together with a Harvard economics major, a system is devised that uses statistical data to analyse and value players they pick for the team.

Public schools need to take the same approach. Just like the big baseball teams of the time, plenty of money is spent on public schools, but much of it is wasted money. I look at education in a very traditional way. Whilst it is ideal to have the best sporting fields, technologies and building designs, none of these ingredients has been proven to be essential for teaching and learning the curriculum. The school across the road may be able to give each child their own i-Pad, but that shouldn’t explain a marked difference in maths, science or english results. A teacher should be able to deliver on the curriculum with or without such devices.

Whilst many get worked up when Governments subsidise private schools, there is a good reason why they do it.

1. It takes billions off the budget bottom line. This saves Governments money, resulting in reduced taxes and smaller class sizes in public schools.

2. It allows private schools to lower their fees. This is crucial for parents who are by no means wealthy, but are prepared to scrimp and save (and sometimes take on multiple jobs and a second mortgage) to get their children into private schools. These people should be commended. They work long hours, weekends, give up overseas travel and big screen TV’s, just to give their kids the best education possible. Government subsidies allow that to happen.

In Australia, the Government gives $13,000 to every public school per student. Private schools get $5,000. Factor in to the equation that many private schools are not elite schools with truck loads of money and resources (I work in such a private school, where I earn considerably less than a public school teacher), and you realise that the subsidy shouldn’t detract from a thriving public education system.

By constantly drawing attention to private schools, we risk bringing the private school system down to the public level. What we should be doing instead is trying to get the public school system improved to the level where it gives its private school equivalent a run for its money. That way, you have a private school that sets the bar for top quality education and a public school system that is structured to be able to go toe-to-toe with them based on prudent spending, good decision-making and a workforce of supported and fairly paid teachers.

It’s About Spending Wisely

October 26, 2010

The Chief Executive of VECCI Wayne Kayler-Thomson, calls for “strategic investment in education and skills …  from primary school onwards.”

His other recommendation include:

  • Meeting the target of 90 per cent of students attaining year 12 or an equivalent;
  • Schools that achieve NAPLAN results routinely below the state average need initiatives to close the gap, such as hiring specialist teachers, retraining existing teachers or exploring alternative methods of teaching numeracy and literacy;
  • Linking teachers’ pay to student performance and rewarding outstanding teachers will help drive improvements in the classroom; and
  • Getting teachers from varied backgrounds into the classroom through a scholarship program could help address the shortage of teachers in key skill areas, as well as broadening the types of teachers that students interact with.

Nothing new here, but still food for thought.  I find the term “strategic investment” quite amusing.  It seems to infer that the money beings spent on Education is largely going to waste or at least not spent wisely.  I couldn’t agree more.


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