Clever marketing strategies, well designed t-shirts, coloured cars, and a social media campaign have increasingly asked members of the Australian public to position themselves as "Giving a Gonski" (see http://igiveagonski.com.au/what-s-gonski/). To badge oneself with this term, is to demonstrate visible support to proposed changes to the funding of Australian schools. I want to give a Gonski, as an educator who works closely across the schooling sector, but I can't because it is a complex discussion which is inaccessible to the average person.
Last month, a Victorian tribunal found that the state department of education did not discriminate against children opting out of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) classes.
The plaintiffs – parents who chose to opt their children out of the classes – argued the students were treated differently, on religious grounds, and were not being offered proper instruction during SRI time.
My research and thinking, and even my identity with regard to social networking has evolved, but not in a way I have anticipated. Over the past three years, I have offered a number of conference addresses and keynote presentations focussed on the use of social media and networking in education. I have co-authored chapters in books about the challenges, potentials and pitfalls, and often humorously reflected upon myself as s stalker-mum or stalker-teacher.
The furore following the announcement that Jenny Craig CEO Amy Smith would address a gathering of hundreds of girls' school teachers has once again brought the uncomfortable issue of corporate presence in schools to light.
The public response – that school groups should not be seen to endorse the dieting industry – is certainly warranted. But such corporate presence in education is really just the tip of the iceberg.
We need competition in supply and funding of individuals not institutions Julia Gillard wisely remarked last month that competition with Asia could “make us the runt of the litter” in terms of our educational performance. This provocative remark should trigger urgent application to government policy, given that increasingly unlike much of Asia, ours is a state-owned tertiary model. Our university communities are not offered the diversity of choice as in the USA, or indeed as in our own secondary and primary schools. New technology and social networks allow leapfrog in terms of ways of sharing information. All universities could jump ahead by using such remote devices to augment teaching, writing and research frameworks across broader international markets. However Socratic face-to-face “tutorial” and live lecture modes remain vitally important – the “getting of wisdom” is too important to be on iPads or lonely PCs.
Desperate times, they say, call for desperate measures. Proposing to cut $400 million from Australia's aid budget to Indonesia’s schools program looks pretty desperate. So one can only assume that having alienated damp Queensland voters and not just a few Victorians, Tony Abbott is trying to find a way out of opposing the one-off tax hole he has dug himself into.
Someone should tell him that the first rule of holes is, when you are in one, stop digging.
Abbott’s chopping of the Indonesian education program would be an abysmal policy decision, but for one saving grace: being in opposition means it won’t be enacted.
In a recent newspaper article (Long way to top 10, The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
I think I just made up a word – edu-politics – but maybe I didn’t . . . but it doesn’t seem to matter in the madness of the current election campaigns. ...
Currently, there is significant debate over the recent announcement by Victoria’s Shadow Education Minister, Martin Dixon, that a Coalition Government would enforce truancy laws and fine the parents of students who are absent from school over extended periods of time, or who are regularly absent. The application of these fines would occur where an unidentified person decided that the reasons provided for absence were unacceptable. The basis for such a decision is as yet unclear, and it is not this issue that I am addressing here. As things become clearer, I am sure there will still be much to be clarified.