Back in 2007, some ‘fresh ideas’ excited many Australians, especially those involved in education or who had an interest in the schooling of their own children and grandchildren. In short, that’s pretty much everyone. Here’s a reminder of the commitment our current federal government had, to the ‘Digital Education Revolution’ when seeking election in 2007:
The single most important thing in my life is the health, well-being and education of my daughters and their future lives in a progressive, savvy Australia. Many people, most people, would probably feel similarly.
Like you, I care passionately about our civil society, the environment and a range of personal and public issues…but the future, without want to sound trite, is about our children and their planet.
In my role, as a learning professional, there is a quite special, unique opportunity to be an integral part of molding a positive, savvy, sustainable future for all, including my children and their future families and colleagues, friends and fellow citizens.
With all this in mind, many are understandably finding it difficult to put a positive spin on the education funding in the 2011 federal budget.
The $132.5 million cuts to DER funding does not feel like a decision with much vision. Many would argue the need to extend the rollout of wireless connectivity and laptops into stage 4 – that’s Year 7 and 8 for the uninitiated – and very importantly, into our primary schools. It appears that there may not be funding for professional development, laptops or TSOs (Technical Support Officers) post 2012 to continue the highly successful DERNSW program. I am hoping that the exact nature of what (both federal and state) government funding will permit becomes apparent quickly.
The large amounts of funding, $220 million to expand the chaplaincy program and $425 million to ‘reward top performing teachers’, has not garnered much support from professional associations, research or overseas experience. The issue is not that excellent teachers do not deserve reward but how to fairly identify them. The issue is not that chaplains are not needed in schools but that supporting the mental health of young people requires trained professionals. Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year, has made his distress at the funding of this issue publicly known many times.
The DERNSW team has a brief post, Budget News and Implications that you may care to read. Bloggers and journalists have made a range of comments about the budget, from an education perspective. Mike Stuchbery opines that the Budget takes schools back to the future:
Wayne Swan’s budget, as far as education spending is concerned, is heading back to the Victorian era.
Journalist, Maralyn Parker writes:
If you ever had any doubt that Australian politicians think God is more important to schools than 21st century technology the federal government’s budget will put your mind at rest.
Your thoughts? Do you support the educational funding policy in the federal budget or have concerns about the future of our political commitment to funding ‘the toolbox of the 21st century’?
Slider image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo by Яick Harris: http://flickr.com/photos/rickharris/402823549/