archive: February 2021

3 February 2021

Education experts: “The language of school choice supports the idea that education funding should follow students to the schools they believe best fit their learning needs. Education is then managed according to the free-market dynamics of consumer choice. … School choice alternatives … divert students and funding away from comprehensive public schools. We should be concerned about advocacy for school choice models, because recent cross-national research shows increased school choice is associated with increased social stratification in terms of social class. School choice and competition tend to be associated with larger gaps between high and low socio-economic status student groups and lower student achievement outcomes nationally.” Every time the international education test results are revealed, we despair at Australia’s declining performance and the growing equity gap… and yet we never learn: “Government funding for non-government schools is still growing at a faster rate than for public schools, according to the Productivity Commission. The latest chapters of its review of government services, released on Tuesday, reveal that in the past decade spending per student on non-government schools increased by 3.3% per year compared with just 1.4% for government schools.”

The Saturday Paper‘s editorial doesn’t pull any punches: “Sometimes people end up where they belong. This is not how Tony Abbott became prime minister but it is how he found himself working at the Institute of Public Affairs. That a man can go from leading the country to making Facebook videos for a right-wing think tank is evidence of the great lack in our politics. The space between these two callings is the gap in which almost everything wrong with Australia lives. This is the space in which one might hope to find talent or vision or decency. … The IPA feeds people into politics and now they return as backwash, like spit into a milkshake. … The tragedy here is not that Tony Abbott has ended up where he belongs, working for cranks at an institute that opposes Indigenous rights and advocates selling off the ABC. The tragedy is that no one much better was waiting in the parliament to replace him, and that what he does now is not much different to what he was doing in government.”

1 February 2021

I’m a member of the Australian Republic Movement, but I agree wholeheartedly with Osmond Chiu: “There have been suggestions that becoming a republic might act as a circuit breaker, enabling us to have a new, more inclusive national day, free of the legacy of invasion and colonisation. While well-meaning, it misjudges the vision of an Australian republic that has been sold to the wider public, a vision that I increasingly do not agree with. The one-word change to the national anthem only emphasises the importance of avoiding empty symbolic changes. I support Australia becoming a republic because a monarchy, even a constitutional one, runs counter to basic principles of equality and democracy. And yet I feel fundamentally ambivalent about the push for an Australian republic. … [U]nless it is a transformative project, a republic will only represent a domestic status quo that does not reflect who we truly are. … To me, the appeal of having an Australian head of state has little resonance if not much else changes. Replacing a hereditary British aristocrat with an elected affluent barrister from a private school, a military officer or a former government minister does not better reflect the diversity or breadth of Australia. Instead, it merely reflects our existing hierarchies, and provides equality of opportunity for our own domestic elites to become the head of state. … A republic, let alone a new national day, without prior truth-telling, a Voice and a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be empty and hollow from its inception.”