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Archive for the ‘Government Funding’ Category

Meet the School With Paid Staff But No Students

December 4, 2014

llanfynydd

With all the under resourced and under staffed schools that exist, one wonders how this situation could ever have been allowed to happen:

 

Like all schools, it has a head teacher, governors, and a caretaker.

But unlike any other school, Llanfynydd Primary has not a single pupil.

The “phantom” village school near Carmarthen in South Wales remains open despite this, and will remain so for another seven months.

Red tape means it cannot be closed for lessons even though all 11 pupils have left for other school.

No children have been taught there since last July, when it cost taxpayers £50,000 to run.

But the “statutory process” by the Labour-led Welsh government dictates that it cannot officially close until a consultation has been carried and a formal decision is made.

The consultation on the closure of the school began in 2012 after it was hit by falling pupil numbers in a village with a population of 580.

At the beginning of the spring term last year, there were 16 pupils being taught at the school, but that fell to 11 by the beginning of the autumn term.

The remaining children were then removed by their parents and sent to other schools rather than waiting for Llanfynydd to close.

Click on the link to read my post on If Teachers Were Paid More I Wouldn’t Have Become One

Click on the link to read my post on Pitting Private vs Public Schools is Bad for Education

Click on the link to read my post on The Education Version of “Moneyball”

Click on the link to read my post on Treating Teachers Like Livestock

Click on the link to read my post on Finally, a Voice of Reason!

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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.

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.

Treating Teachers Like Livestock

February 23, 2011

Someone needs to explain to this ignorant Australian how New York could be in this situation.  How can New York be in a situation where they feel they are better off letting go of more than 4.650 teachers?  How is this possible?  Is New York so content with their education system that they think they can make their cutbacks by ridding themselves of talented teachers?  Isn’t there other areas of government waste they can focus on instead of this massive cull?  That’s what this amounts to – a massive cull.  Teachers as expendable livestock!

And what’s worse is they are bound by a law that requires that teachers hired last are the first ones to be laid off, regardless of their effectiveness.

“I’m sorry, you’re doing a brilliant job and have been a source of inspiration to your students, but because we only hired you recently, we have to let you go.”

Teacher morale has always been an oxymoron, but this would be doing so much damage to teachers, their families, students and schools.  Take this case for example:

This is Stany Leblanc’s second year as a New York City teacher. It may also be his last.

When Mr. Leblanc’s sixth-grade students arrived in September for their first day of school in the South Bronx, they were on average two years behind in writing skills and more than a year behind in reading.

To inspire his poor, black and Hispanic charges to read, Mr. Leblanc has found books that are relevant to many of their lives. Students whose homes are too chaotic for studying find in his classroom a quiet place to work long before school in the mornings and well after the school day is done. He pushes students to write essays every week and groups them into teams named after colleges, so they remember every day what they are working toward.

Five months later, his sixth-graders are reading and writing at the sixth-grade level. “I’ve already caught them up and now I’m moving them beyond,” he said.

More than 4,650 teachers are expected to be laid off at the end of this school year, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s preliminary budget. State law requires that teachers hired last are the first ones to be laid off, regardless of their effectiveness.

That would make Mr. Leblanc, who began teaching in 2009 and earns $45,000 a year, vulnerable to being among the first to go among a citywide teaching corps of nearly 80,000.

His school is vulnerable, too. More than 200 new schools have been created in New York City in recent years to replace large, dysfunctional schools where too many children were failing. These new schools tend to have teachers with less experience.

The location of Mr. Leblanc’s school in a poor neighborhood is a factor as well. Schools in poor districts tend to have newer teachers, as teachers with greater seniority tend not to want to work there. The Department of Education has said low-income communities will be among the hardest hit by teacher layoffs, places where children can least afford to lose their teachers.

“It’s going to be devastating to the culture” of the school, said Mr. Leblanc’s boss, Patrick Awosogba, the principal and founder of Science & Technology Academy: A Mott Hall School. Dr. Awosogba carefully picked each of his 25 teachers, building a team of educators who work well together and often pitch in at each other’s classrooms to offer help and advice.

Am I misreading the situation?  Is Mr.  Bloomberg’s initiative necessary?  Why is a profession with relative job security worldwide suffering from such insecurity in New York?  How do you get a situation where 4,650 teachers required one year are no longer required the next?

Sounds like another case of treating teachers like livestock!

Finally, a Voice of Reason!

November 11, 2010

It is my vision that both private and public schools should be looked after and properly funded.  I am tired of the private vs public school debate over funding.  If our Government is really serious about education, they will invest in private education to ease the burden on the taxpayer whilst also ensuring that our public schools are appropriately funded and given every chance to thrive.

In steps a voice of reason.  Dr Kevin Donnelly, the Director of Education Standards Institute, makes the following points in defence of funding our private schools:

The facts are that non-government schools have been underfunded for years. While state school students, on average, get $12,639 in funding from state and federal governments, non-government students only receive $6,606. Schools and parents have to pay the rest.

The saving to governments is about $6,000 a year for each student, adding up to a saving of about $7 billion a year. It’s also true that the state school system would collapse if it had to enrol all those thousands of students currently in non-government schools.

Critics like the AEU argue that non-government schools are drowning in government funding. Wrong. Wealthier non-government schools like Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar only get 13.5 per cent of the cost to government of educating a state school student. Even less well off non-government schools only get 70 per cent of the state school cost.

Let’s put the non-government vs government school debate to bed, and focus our energy on making sure that all of our schools receive the appropriate amount of support.

Pay Attention to our Principals

November 10, 2010

Just a week after the damning State of our Schools survey that shone light on some of the challenges faced by teachers and schools, a new survey has surfaced. Actually, the survey which shows that principals thought students were being dumbed down by poor resources, red tape and stressed principals, is not new at all.  It was completed in 2008 and summarily ignored by the Victorian State Government.

The report was so bad the Government swept it under the carpet for two years until it was leaked to the Herald Sun this week.

In the 220-page report, principals complained of:

RED tape being a huge hurdle in teaching kids.

SCHOOLS crippled by a lack of resources.

UNDERSTAFFING being a major issue in more than half of schools and extreme stress affecting 42 per cent of principals.

A CHRONIC breakdown in Education Department decision-making and support for teachers.

PRINCIPALS being worn out by the pace of change forced by bureaucrats.

It is time politicians stopped talking about how passionate they are about education and started taking decisive action.

Don’t talk!  Pay attention and fix the problem!

The Education Debate Continues

November 2, 2010

The debate between Private and Public schools is nothing new, and has been the subject of much interest this week.

The group, Save Our Schools, says their figures show that Australian governments spend about $15,000 a year on students at independent schools but only $10,000 on those at government and Catholic schools.

The Australian Parents Council, a group that represents students who attend non government schools disagree with the figures.  The groups says it’s actually private schools that seem to lose out.

The executive director Ian Dalton points to the “… latest available figures put out by the ministers for education throughout Australia, that demonstrates that around about $12,500 a year is spent on students in government schools across Australia and around about $10,500 on students in non-government schools and that includes all non-government schools including sort of low fee Catholic and Christian schools and high fee independent schools.”

So who do we believe?

I feel that the Public vs Private debate misses the point.  Both Public and Private schools have a great importance and should be given every opportunity to flourish.  I haven’t got a problem with Public schools asking for more funding, but pointing the finger at Private schools is wrong.

We in the Education industry need to support and foster both the Private and Public schools and not turn them against each other.   Funding Public schools should be about the needs of the students not about drawing attention to Private school funding.

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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