Fellows Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepard continue to impact the education funding debate

Since the release of Uneven Playing Field: The State of Australia’s Schools, CPD has had a measurable impact on the public debate regarding the future of education policy. Our Fellows Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepard continue to advocate for a fairer schools funding framework that addresses growing inequity and concentrating disadvantage across government and non-government schools in Australia.

It is a critical time to be influencing the debate, as Federal Education Minister Birmingham has begun negotiations with state and territory counterparts regarding a new schools funding agreement.

As these negotiations continue, the media coverage is increasingly highlighting the schools funding imbalance as well as promoting ideas for reform. For instance, the idea of introducing an independent schools resourcing body, which was recommended by the Gonski Panel Review and endorsed by CPD in Uneven Playing Field, is being debated in the public forum.

Highlighted below is Chris and Bernie’s recent presence in the public debate. For a summary of their earlier media appearances and comments surrounding Uneven Playing Field, see here.

On September 20, Chris commented on Fairfax’s findings that state schools are scrambling for funding and are increasingly divided by socio-economic status. See a link to his thoughts here.

In a September 21 essay for Inside Story, Chris and Bernie used data from Uneven Playing Field to illustrate the arbitrary and unfair nature of our current education funding system by comparing a series of similar schools on either side of the Victoria-NSW border. See a link to the essay here.

In late September, the expert opinion and analysis of Chris and Bernie on inappropriate and unfair funding packages featured prominently in The Age, following Minister Simon Birmingham’s comments on the ABC’s Q&A programme where he flagged that some non-government schools are “over-funded”. For Chris, Minister Birmingham’s acknowledgement is a very welcome development in the “very bruising debate” over funding inequality. Systemic funding inequities are particularly pronounced in Victoria as shown by Chris and Bernie’s data. You can read Chris and Bernie’s comments in The Age from 27 September here and here.

Chris wrote a pair of editorials for CPD Fellow John Menadue’s blog, Pearls and Irritations, on 24 September and 3 October. In his first piece Chris outlines the problems facing our education funding system, and argues that the current series of COAG meetings will be crucial for reform to create a fairer education funding system. In his second piece, Chris recaps and analyses an eventful week which saw “one school funding revelation after another” on Q&A and the media follow up surrounding the Ministers comments. You can read them here and here.

On 16 October, Chris was again called upon to comment on Fairfax Media’s independent analysis of New South Wales school funding levels. Fairfax’s findings aligned closely to those in Uneven Playing Field, in that private schools which have considerable sources of private income are continually receiving unfair government funding compared to similar state schools.  Read the SMH exclusive findings here.

Read Chris and Bernie’s full report Uneven Playing Field: The State of Australia’s Schools here.

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