ACSSO says Abbott plan for education misses the mark21-07-2010
Tony Abbott's announcement today that a Coalition government would provide tax rebates to parents paying school fees has been met with criticism from Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO) National President Peter Garrigan.
Mr Garrigan, noted that the title of the Coalition's release, "Real action to help families meet school costs" is as misleading as the contents and proposals are misdirected and ill-conceived.
"For a start, this grab-bag of proposals will self-evidently do little or nothing to provide a much needed helping hand to those families who through no fault of their own are doing it very tough in their efforts to provide their children with the education opportunities that every child deserves," Peter said.
"Most of these bits and pieces simply provide unnecessary largesse to those who can already well afford to contribute in these ways – and who quite appropriately and comfortably do so in the ordinary course of events."
According to Mr Garrigan, the Abbott assemblage lacks informed analysis, which is evident when its elements are looked at indvidually.
"For example, School Fees: In most of Australia's 7,000 public schools a modest contribution is sought, mostly on a voluntary basis in terms of parent capacity – with well established arrangements in schools to adjust down or remit those contributions on an in-confidence basis where families have problems paying," he says.
"The list omits any mention of those subject levies which particularly secondary public schools find necessary to charge in respect of high-cost consumables in some elective courses – for example Photography. But again schools have arrangements to reduce or remit such charges where appropriate on a local in-confidence basis."
Mr Garrigan says the Abbott plan has a fatal cognitive flaw.
"They are approaching the issues in the wrong way, from the wrong standpoint – and with totally wrong strategies," he said.
Instead, Mr Garrigan and ACSSO want to see a funding regime that benefits every student in every school.
"The real point is that all schools should be properly resourced in terms of their recurrent funding to ensure that all students have the appropriate range and quality of learning and development opportunities in these curriculum areas in order to achieve the objectives and outcomes of the Melbourne Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians."
"The answer that seems to elude the Coalition is: to provide and resource such high quality programs in all schools, inclusively accessible to each and every student," he added.