Future vision?

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/

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The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

6 Comments

  1. Troy:

    I totally agree with your vision of the desire to see our daughters grow into an Australia that is progressive and savvy. I also have the same concerns as you do in regards to the funding and the place of education in the creation of a 21st century Australia.
    Two problems: anecdotally, many educational professionals, beyond the world of Twitter and Yammer, do not see the DER NSW program as a success. I do. I have seen it change the way some students and teachers learn, interact, create. Many teachers, students and parents will be happy to see ‘it’ go.
    Secondly, there is no revolution while we maintain pen and paper once a term, once a year examinations. Why alter our way of delivering or interacting with our students if, in the end, they sit in a hot or cold hall and negotiate examination questions to be marked in isolation?

  2. Stu:

    I have no idea why everything a government does must be a project. Every project has a start date and an END date. Sadly, for our children, the Federal Government has set the end date for their “Digital Education Revolution”. All I can say is what was the point of doing it at all? By shutting it down, you are simply agreeing with al the naysayers that it is a waste of money. Who will ever have the balls to do it again? And to think, the Education Minister who started it all is now the Prime Minister who is shutting it down. Shame.

  3. Darcy Moore:

    Thanks Troy and Stu. I know how passionately you both feel about these issues too. Yes Stu, it is hard to reconcile that their has not even been a change of government or discernible change in policy re ‘the revolution’. The cynical will say it was about getting elected or one of Kev’s ideas but it just seems so obvious that our kids need to be connected at school. We started…why stop?

  4. Troy:

    Good question Darcy. It does seems obvious to me that our studets need to be connected. With DER every room became a computer room. But why bring the thing if one teacher is using it? What comes first, the students not bringing the device, or teachers not using them? Do our students need to be connected at school when a teacher can use methods and teaching ideas that have always worked (turn to page 67 and copy and complete, or chalk and talk) and still fulfil requirements established in external pen and paper examinations. Why change teacher centred traditional learning if it works and has worked for the majority of students? Of course, we know that this kind of passive interaction with content is not the 21st century learning we envisioned at the opening of DER.

  5. Stu:

    Sounds like the 21st Century is only 4 years long for laptops being “The Toolbox of the 21st Century” to be true.

  6. So hard to comment on a professional and / or personal level. It just makes me feel tired and so, so sad at the moment…great post!

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