For the needy schools, more money is critical

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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EDUCATION

For the needy schools, more money is critical

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge rejects the link between increased school funding and increased student performance (The Age, 27/4). Indeed this is obvious on one level – the PISA results confirm what our research has long shown: once the socioeconomic background of the students is allowed for, outcomes are statistically equal across government, Catholic and independent schools, despite the large difference in funding per student.

However, it is nonsense to suggest that the level of funding does not matter. Taxpayer funds given to an independent school that charges parents $30,000 per year in fees cannot be expected to lead to any increase in educational outcomes, but give the same money to a government school with a high level of disadvantaged students and it can make a difference. As the current funding model is not fully needs based, it is inevitably wasteful. The clearest trend in funding and outcomes over recent decades is that while more government funding has been provided to the private schools, our overall educational outcomes have progressively declined.
Richard Fone, Camberwell

There is no more juice in the education system

I work beside amazing secondary teachers providing highly effective, evidenced-based learning experiences. Rather than a focus on recruiting “high”-quality teachers (implying they are not there already), outcomes will improve if class loads are reduced, with more time for feedback and individualised attention to students. The juice is totally squeezed out of the education system, and for the federal government to say funding is adequate shows its ignorance of the current situation. As the crushing workloads of passionate and committed teachers reduce, staff retention and teaching quality will improve with more funding, and so will measured outcomes.
Peter Gould, Moonee Ponds

The minister is right about better quality teaching

I agree with Alan Tudge that the quality of teaching needs to improve. This will only happen when pre-service teachers are given more practice time in the classrooms. Having supervised student teachers in primary and secondary schools, I have been horrified by their dismal lack of spelling and grammar skills.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East

Blame the NAPLAN tests for the drop in standards

It is no coincidence that education standards have declined every year since the 2008 introduction of NAPLAN tests. Inevitably teachers teach to the test, and the constraints of NAPLAN have overwhelmed meaningful curriculum. Even in primary schools, creative, stimulating teaching has been strangled by bureaucracy and a curriculum that is constructed around what can be put in boxes, ticked and graphed.

Scandinavian countries, universally acknowledged as educational leaders, have shunned performance regimes like NAPLAN. Teachers need to be responsible for assessment for they best know their students. NAPLAN is destroying what was once a proud and progressive education system.
Bryan Long, Balwyn

Where the extra funding has really gone

I agree that quality of teaching is paramount but for Alan Tudge to suggest standards have declined despite a 60per cent increase in per-student funding over the past 10years is disingenuous. That increase has largely gone to private schools while seriously needy schools have gone without. It is time to look at “value adding” to use current “accountability speak”.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North

The qualities that make a good teacher

In my lengthy experience in education, I have found quality teachers are flexible, understanding, passionate and patient professionals who are always looking to improve their performance. I sincerely hope that the “skilled, mid-career professionals” keenly sought by our new federal minister have these qualities.
Terry White, Lilydale

THE FORUM

Education begins at home

I agree with Marnie Vinall (Opinion, 29/4) that consent needs to be taught when children are young, so why wait until they get to school? Children learn by what they see around them from a very young age. By the time they hit secondary school, many behaviours are firmly ingrained and frankly, difficult to shift. There is a place for these conversations in education but that should not be the first port of call. I have been in education for more than 30years and have observed that all society’s ills end up with schools; most recently social media misuse and consent. Education shares a responsibility, with families, not instead of families.
Xenia Pappas, Balwyn

Power of Christian voters

About 400,000 Christian voters abandoned Labor at the 2019 election. This was the finding from Labor’s own inquiry into the failed election (the Emerson-Weatherill Report). This figure is 7per cent of Labor’s primary vote. Had they voted Labor, Bill Shorten would have easily won with a 20-seat majority. The report said: “The party would be wise to reconnect with people of faith” and “emphasise its historic links with mainstream churches”. So far nothing has happened and the Christian vote will continue to move away from Labor. What will the ALP do to regain these voters?
John Hayes, Wheelers Hill

Prayer and environment

I find it interesting that the Prime Minister is criticised for his religious beliefs and practices. Organisers of Earth Day claim more than 1billion people spread throughout almost 200 countries will participate in this year’s activities. Earth Day was the brainchild of the late John McConnell, a son of one of the founders of one of the largest Pentecostal churches in the world. McConnell met his wife at a charismatic prayer meeting.
John Capel, Black Rock

Praying for the $30 million

Scott Morrison, l would like to see you lay hands on the $30million paid to a Liberal Party donor for land at Badgerys Creek. Land that was valued at $3million. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t this taxpayers’ money? It makes the Cartier watches look like a bargain.
Kerry Murphy, Seaford

A need for scrutiny

A well-balanced article by David Crowe (The Age, 28/4). He was respectful of the Prime Minister and religious belief, while making the point that there is something to scrutinise here.
Michael Helman, St Kilda East

Shameful lack of respect

David Crowe said the Prime Minister “should be treated with respect for his personal beliefs”, yet on the same day The Age printed 11 short letters (and a Wilcox cartoon) showing a complete lack of respect. And then yesterday, more puerile insults in “And Another Thing” ridiculing him for his belief in God (which I do not share) and a Golding cartoon.
Hugh Saunders, Brighton East

Beliefs and practices

Should David Crowe wish to know more of Scott Morrison’s religious beliefs, would he be enlightened by reading the Gospel? I think not. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus clearly says that man cannot serve both God and mammon (money). And yet every jot and tittle of Liberal Party policy is about the pursuit of money. In the kingdom of Mr Morrison, the hungry are not filled with good things and neither are the rich sent empty away.
Kenneth Ormerod, Mentone

Choosing our own deaths

Praise to the ABC for broadcasting the brave, beautiful documentary, Laura’s Choice, which followed a 90-year-old Australian woman’s choice to end her life by assisted suicide, albeit by travelling to Switzerland to accomplish it. I hope palliative care staff watched it and listened to her passionate plea that we all be provided with the right to choose assisted suicide, should we so wish, wherever in Australia we live.
Marina Holland, Blackburn South

Some chose to risk it

The situation in India regarding the pandemic is alarming and very sad. However, I am getting a bit sick of hearing about Australian citizens “stranded” there and appealing for government help to return here. The pandemic has been active globally for more than a year so I do not believe anyone is “stranded” anywhere. They are in a country they chose to visit, knowing full well that conditions could deteriorate at any time. Haven’t we all learnt that over the past year?
David Parker, Geelong West

Such a waste of staff

I am 74, an inner-eastern resident and was unable to be vaccinated at my regular clinic due to the limited supply of vaccines. I was advised to call a number which took me to a general centre in Ringwood.

On attending my appointment there, I was dismayed to find that with four available nurses for vaccination, a doctor supervising the “wait after” room (set up for about 40 people) and three administration staff, I only saw two other customers in the hour that I was present.

Even primary school-level arithmetic could calculate the cost per vaccination of this staff load vis a vis attendees. I am appalled and do not understand why there is no visible promotion anywhere of this available service. A daily listing in metropolitan newspapers would cost a fraction of that obvious wastage.
Helen Hayes, Burwood

So many suitable centres

Mary Wise (Letters, 27/4), the infrastructure for quarantine centres is everywhere. I stayed in a tourist park on the periphery of Canberra – more than 400 individually heated, airconditioned and plumbed cabins of assorted sizes spaced out in pleasant surroundings with a high fence right around it. Ideal.

The government could hire all the cabins, the existing management and staff (with some training) could continue their roles, and the quarantining customers could have their food and other needs delivered to the office. I am sure there are hundreds of similar facilities near towns and cities throughout Australia, ready and waiting.
Mary Burbidge, Newport

Please explain: on prices

The Age, April 29, page 10: “Apartment prices too have tumbled, but not as dramatically as rent”. Then, on page 11: “Apartment prices also soared to a median of $567,793 – a rise of 2.2per cent, or more than $12,000 – over the same period”. I had hours of entertainment trying to reconcile the two. Thanks.
Stephen Duckett, Melbourne

Benefits of our lockdowns

Chris Uhlmann (Opinion, 28/4) berates federal and state governments for lockdowns and closed borders, and asks: “What have we built in our splendid isolation?” This reminds me of Monty Python asking what the Romans have ever done for us.

Here are a few things that our splendid isolation has built: I can travel across Australia, go to restaurants, shop and hug my grandchildren. I can work, entertain friends at home, and go to the footy. I can read frightening reports of people dying in other countries where the governments did not introduce lockdowns until too late, leading to exponential increases in case numbers and deaths. And, not incidentally, I can still breathe.
Neville Nicholls, Viewbank

Learning from history

A properly funded and accessible national archives is a litmus test of a nation’s capacity to learn from its past and inform its future without fear nor censorship. It can also be a treasure trove of stories and a vital source of information for professional historians like me who rely on official and authoritative records for our research and writing of histories of every type of organisation in Australia. If our national records are not preserved, we will be consigned to relying on subjective historical memory and our organisations and their people will be doomed to repeat history’s mistakes.
Helen Penrose, Newport

Creating our shared future

Archives all over the world are confronting similar problems of managing rapidly increasing digital records while preserving vast print, oral and other records in different, often fragile formats. They all need the government financial support that is necessary to do this securely and durably. Ours are no exception.

Australian historians now report inordinate delays in gaining access to records not yet examined for access clearance. Delays of more than five years are commonplace. There is even a reluctance for supervisors to recommend doctoral research topics that might draw on archival records, for fear that it would not be possible to complete a thesis in a timely manner.
Studying our past and telling our stories is critical to our sense of belonging, to recovering hidden and awkward histories, and to creating our shared future. Our National Archives are the core resource for these stories as well as the indispensable repository of official records. We cannot afford to compromise on which records are kept or on the quality of their maintenance.
Professor Peter McPhee, History Council of Victoria

Fund state records too

A nation that does not appreciate and adequately fund the preservation of its historical records, to my mind, is not fit to be called a free and open democracy. What philistines are in charge of allocating funding for the safe storage, preservation and easy access of these vital records? Could it be the same government that raised university fees for those students wishing to study humanities? How short-sighted and uneducated these people must be. Not only are the National Archives in a perilous state, but state records are also not adequately funded.
Marie Rogers, Kew

Following Maggie’s lead?

Recent headlines in the media: “Women abandon Coalition”. Watch out for the Margaret Thatcher-style diversionary tactics of talking up war (eg, “the drums of war”). The trouble is, China is not the Falklands.
Val Pollard, Woodend

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Politics

Dutton and Pezzullo seem determined to turn the Department of Defence into the Department of Offence.
Denny Meadows, Hawthorn

Australians are happy to sell iron ore to China when it comes back as whitegoods. Not so happy when it comes back as military ordnance.
Chris Lawrence, Attwood

The family on Christmas Island would appreciate the laying on of hands to alleviate their anguish of being detained for three years.
Jane Taylor, Newport

We should be very concerned to be in the hands of a PM who’s been “called to do God’s work”.
Lidio Bertelli, Dallas

As George Orwell might have put it in Animal Farm: Liberal debt good, Labor debt bad.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

COVID-19

If the Pfizer vaccine is good enough for Scott, it’s good enough for me.
Rob Fraser, Coburg

If someone is a dual citizen and stuck in their other country, aren’t they home already?
Rohan Cresp, Port Melbourne

When infection escapes quarantine, lockdowns follow. Why isn’t vaccination on arrival for returned travellers mandatory?
Dr Ralph Frank, Malvern East

When Scott said every Australian would be home by Christmas, he didn’t say which Christmas.
Alistair Crozier, Fairfield

Furthermore

Fining Crown Resorts $1million (28/4) is like depriving it of 30 seconds of revenue.
Ron Mather, Melbourne

Morrison talks about the church. And behold, three days later The Age announces the band is reforming (Arts, 28/4).
Anthony O’Donnell, Northcote

Has DH been getting lessons in cryptic clues from DA? Some of Tuesday’s had me stumped.
Margaret Collings, Anglesea

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