Archive for the 'Education' Category

Education reform long overdue

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

I read with interest today that Julia Gillard has an idea to make school principals responsible for their schools budgets and staffing. At first glance, this stuck me as very un labor like, but as we desperately need reform in the education sector, I decided not to dismiss it out of hand.

There are genuine concerns about getting good teachers to less desirable working locations, but I think that’s pretty easily solved with a higher pay scale for those regions where its hard to get teachers to go. We can also bolster those areas by insisting teaching graduates spend a few years at one of those schools.

The greens are jumping up and down worried that the idea is a secret code for slashing spending on education. While I am sure the Gillard government will have no choice but to start cutting spending soon, I don’t think this idea should be tied to that.

All in all, what’s missing from todays education system is responsibility. The teachers in the classrooms and the principals overseeing them are not held to account for the outcomes they deliver, and they should be.

I think the idea merits further debate, it’s high time we stopped focusing on money, and focus instead on the kids and their future,

Every child should get education funding.

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I saw an argument on twitter today where one party argued that private schools should not get any government funding at all. I find this idea quite repulsive;

Every child in Australia should be educated, and that education should be, to a standard, some might argue basic, level, by the federal government. There are only a few things I think the government should handle, and this is certainly one of them.

There is no reason why private schools should not exist. For the most part, they are religious in nature, and cater to parents who wish to send their kids to a school that provides  a specific type of environment, usually, one with God.

Now I am an atheist. So before you jump on me, I am not pushing a religious agenda here.

So the parents are free to choose a public school, with its particular environment, or a private school, with whatever points of difference it offers.

The fact is, the parents in the latter case DO pay for the privilege of what they would argue is an improved environment for their kids. They pay the school quite large fees.

That does not mean that the federal government should not give that school the same per child amount of funding as it gives a public school.  It most certainly should. Kids that go to a private school are not second class citizens, and should not be short changed.

The idea that the government is somehow subsidising private enterprise when it gives money to private schools is ridiculous. It is simply passing on education funding for the students those schools are taking care of. Lets be honest, if we closed every private school, those kids would be at public schools! There is no reason not to fund their education.

Sorry Kids, we’re more important than your education.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Its a good thing that todays strike action by Queensland Teachers was averted at the 11th hour. A good thing because the half a million government school students can go to school and continue to work hard at getting a decent education, which they richly deserve.

It’s a crying shame that the Teachers Union in Queensland feels that strike action is warranted. They, and every other union, should realise that in this day and age, there is virtually no good reason to go on strike. Strikes should be reserved for dangerous, life threatening circumstances, such as a mine operator cutting corners and putting miners at risk.

Workers should never be allowed to strike just because they want a pay rise. Workers such as teachers, nurses, ambo’s, police, fire fighters, should especially realise that they hold a position with a great deal of responsibility, and they should keep getting on with the job.

I was thinking about doing some basic analysis of teachers pay and the governments offer, but after reading a QTU bulletin on the subject, I saw that the argument has degenerating into a battle of statistics and selective reporting, so its pointless going down that road;

Better to look at the simple facts; The government has offered a pay rise of 12.5% in a time of world wide recession. Nurses were happy to grab that same 12.5% recently, realising that such a huge pay rise was to snapped up in this climate. Why doesn’t the QTU think thats good enough?

The QTU’s own publication shows that senior teachers in Queensland earn about $70,000 a year. 12.5% more brings that close to $80,000, which is way above the average wage, and a pretty bloody good wicket if you ask me.

So thats my opinion; I wait with baited breath for the comments from unionists deriding me. :-)

Bureaucrats continue education debate

Monday, October 20th, 2008

This just in via the Australian; Bureaucrats still don’t know how to teach kids to read and write. While they continue to flap about wondering what to do next, we continue to pump a generation of kids through our school system that can barely read and write.

The solution is simple, and should be implemented immediately;

Step 1; Define minimum learning outcomes for all school grades. Ensure teachers are fully aware of what they are being paid to teach the kids (and that might require the watching of less movies at school), and test the kids to ensure the teachers are doing the job.

Step 2; Identify the kids that are, for whatever reason, struggling with the basics, and setup after school tutoring classes with specialist teachers who can help.

Step 3; If kids really struggle, hold them back a year. There is no point sending them on to more complex studies when they don’t understand the stuff that came before.

Step 4; Pay teachers what they are worth; If one teacher can teach even the slower students to the minimum standard or better, then they should be paid more than a teacher who cannot.

There are probably a hundred other good ideas that will never happen in our socialist society, such as requiring parents to attend parent teacher interviews regularly. When I visit my son’s teacher at this time, she is usually just sitting there twiddling her thumbs, because many parents don’t even book an appointment, and of those that do, many don’t show up.

Perhaps that could be a good place to start; Holding parents accountable for their children’s education as much as the teachers?

NSW Switches students to gmail….

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

… and I can’t help but wonder why our education departments are spending millions of dollars providing email accounts to students who can get them for free themselves.

The NSW deal switches from a 30+ Million dollar solution to a ~10 Million dollar solution using Google’s G-Mail, but for what? Why do students need a @theschoolsaddress.com.au type of email, that presumably they will LOSE as soon as they leave school?

I know one local primary school in my area that does this too, and I bet if I asked the principal, I would get a whole bunch of spin about how they are incorporating technology into the curriculum and giving their students a head start and what not. Phooey! My niece, who attends this school, had a G-Mail account before she was started there!

I’m all for schools using technology, but really, why waste all this money? Why not just tell the parents to hook their kids up with G-Mail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail… whatever, and just tell the school what their email address is.

State education departments need to run mail servers for the teachers and administrators, and I would hope they don’t start outsourcing that to offshore operators. That being said, there are plenty of low cost mail options out there for that, and I just can’t see the value in providing the students email, especially when you consider that it increases the back end requirements about 20 times!

Rudd’s education revolution on hold

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

I was just reading an interesting article about Kevin Rudd’s fantastic election promise to provide every school student in grades 9 to 12 their own computer. I actually thought the idea was to give families money to buy one personally, but apparently the deal now is to give the money to schools so they can install them there for the students to use.

Okay cool. But there appear to be a number of minor problems with this;

First of all, they are rolling this out over the next five years. Thats not the show stopper, but still, one would have thought the simple process of buying computers could be done more quickly.

Second, the process for choosing which schools get funding seems a little odd.  Schools that already are well funded and have a high number of computers are getting the lions share of funding. NSW schools are also on the front foot, getting 71% of the first round of funding, while having only around 33% of the population. How does that work?

Third, the talk from the government now is that the plan is to get schools to a 1 computer to 2 students ratio. Thats a long way short of a computer for every student. The whole idea has now become, in Julia Gillards words, "a long term vision".  Come on Julia, it wasn’t a long term vision 10 months ago!

In reality, no school is likely to need an 1:1 computer/student ratio. Depending on your point of view, they either need less, or a whole lote MORE; Either many students at any given point in time are studying text books and doing written work, or physical education, or art, or music, or anything else that doesn’t normally need a computer, and hence the ratio need not be that high; Or computers should be a part of virtually every curriculum area in which case every desk needs a computer, not every student.

The point is that this is another half baked Labor party stunt that seemed awesome on election night, but in reality, will do nothing for the education of your kids.

Labor’s Language Revolution

Friday, April 25th, 2008

It seems that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s vision for an education revolution starts not with Math or English, not with reading or writing, not even with science or technology. No, it start with learning a foreign language.

I’ve spoken to educators in the past, and they assure me that learning a second language has positive effects in all areas of learning. But still, I can’t help but ask a few hard questions;

Why is it that at my local primary school, kids attend a class they refer to as "German", but almost never actually learn any German language? For the most part, the class is more about world culture than about learning a second language.

What is the government going to do about the appalling level of education our kids are getting through primary school? Why are kids who can’t read being allowed to graduate primary school and move on to high school?

And if kids are getting to High School not being able to read english, what good would it do to try and teach them Mandarin?