Kenneth Davidson is a humane, eminent and cogent Australian journalist who writes on economics-related matters for the Fairfax Empire newspapers such as The Age (Melbourne) and edits the magazine “Dissent” (see: http://www.dissent.com.au/ ).
Kenneth Davidson on Educational Apartheid in Australia (2012): “At least they [Coalition Opposition] are upfront about supporting educational privilege. [Labor PM] Julia Gillard's support base means she has to be more circumspect in her hostility to public education. Gillard has repeatedly declared she is passionate about education. But in 2007, as education minister, she extended the Howard government's unfair funding formula for a further four years. In 2010, as Prime Minister, she extended it again by directing [education reform report author] Gonski, irrespective of evidence of private school overfunding, that no school should lose a dollar. Gillard's craven response to the independent schools lobby last week means that non-government schools will get an additional $1.5 billion a year, according to Trevor Cobbold's authoritative ''Save Our Schools'' website. Most of this increased funding will go to medium and high-SES schools and probably at the expense of Gonski's priority for all the increased funding to go to disadvantaged students, who will benefit most from smaller class sizes and other targeted programs. On average, low-SES [socio-economic status] 15-year-old students are two to three years behind high-SES students in reading, mathematics and science. The gaps have increased since 2006… The lesson derived by influential Coalition supporters is that ''free education'' in government schools for high-SES parents of students is ''middle-class welfare'' that should be curbed by introducing means-tested school fees for high-SES families who choose to send their children to government schools. But, of course, they want to retain the funding ''entitlements'' of wealthy private schools. The effect of this policy would be to drive even more of the articulate middle class to take their children out of the public system and increase the political pressure on governments to transfer even more resources into private education at the expense of overall standards. It is a recipe for complete education apartheid. The Gonski reforms are affordable. Introduced over three to four years, they can be financed out of the normal growth in tax revenues. It is a question of priorities. Do we wish to institutionalise class distinctions based on education or not?” .
Kenneth Davidson, “Recipe for Education Apartheid”, The Age On-line National Times, 27 August 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/recipe-for-education-apartheid-20120826-24ufo.html .