Using vouchers to achieve a family driven education system

We need an education system with an inbuilt tendency for better teaching to emerge and  thrive while inferior teaching fades away. We also need a system which is far more effective at catering to the specific needs and “learning styles” of individual children.

This is best achieved by a deregulated system where families are the customers and schools are free to compete for students by making their own decisions about the services they provide.

Families have the most interest in their children’s welfare. They are also in the best position to judge what they require (sometimes assisted by professional advice). The suppression of the role of families is part of the learned helplessness appropriate to wage slaves who cannot do their own thinking or make their own decisions.

The key to a family driven education system is the introduction of vouchers which allow them to shop around. With vouchers, they decide where tax dollars go rather than government officials.

The initial effect would be to increase competition between the existing private and public schools. Competition could then be increased by cutting the public schools loose from their bureaucratic moorings so that they can go their own way and compete against each other. A whole range of governance arrangements could then emerge including teacher cooperatives, non-profit associations and private firms. All sort of ideas and methods would be tried out with some succeeding and others failing. Some schools would be tailored to particular needs or preferences. This presupposes, of course, that such efforts are not stifled by the government imposing heavy handed regulation on the schools eligible to receive vouchers.

To pressure schools to keep their costs down and not just charge up to the voucher, voucher money not spent on fees would have to be available for families to spend on other education costs such as computers, books, sport, camping or fees in future years.

Socialism would have no trouble taking over or adopting a voucher system. In fact, the two are like a horse and carriage. Socialism just is not going to happen if the typical family would tolerate government officials making the decisions about their children’s education. Governments would provide the vouchers, investment grants and some minimal regulations relating to child protection and standards. Schools would only thrive if they are able to attract students.

There would perhaps be some private ownership in the case of existing schools and to the extent that schools raise their own funds for facilities from donations. However, facilities would generally be socially owned and schools would receive investment grants out of tax revenue like other sectors of the economy. Social ownership of assets would not rule out groups with a particular religious or cultural bent setting up schools, as long as they have the clientele to justify their investment funding.

Ultimately, schooling should be considered like any other service with the user paying current avoidable costs. Once the lowest wages are sufficiently high, full fee payment would not be an excessive burden. The investment grants would probably be a subsidy in effect to parents given that they come from general tax revenue. And they could also take into account much of the benefits to non-parents of other people’s children being educated.

Given the overwhelming opposition to vouchers in Australia among teachers and the chatterati generally, it would be a tough battle pushing the idea forward. Although, there may be some promising signs in the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) sector. See here and here.

A number of concerns have been raised and at least some of these may need to be accommodated by various modifications to any proposal. These include: vouchers draining funds away from existing public schools unless total funding is increased; the voucher’s value being too low; and a regressive effect on income distribution because those who can already afford to send their children to private school are now receiving government funding.

(Aside.  I understand Victoria has something approaching vouchers within the public system, with school choice and dollars following the student. However, I don’t know how much public schools are allowed to differ from one another. Furthermore, these virtual vouchers do not provide for competition with private schools.  However, it should  be noted that private schools in Australia, particularly the Catholic system receive a significant amount of Government funding. School fees are presently not tax deductible. However, during the Federal election there was talk about it. I don’t know if there has been any moves afoot since.)

14 Responses to “Using vouchers to achieve a family driven education system”

  1. 1 Arthur

    The second last paragraph mentions in passing a number of “concerns” and their need to be “accommodated”.It is far from obvious how to “accommodate” concerns about draining funds away from public education to private schools and a regressive effect on income distribution. These seem serious objections to vouchers which are simply not dealt with in the proposal. I suspect there are many others too.One that strikes me is implicit in the title. Why precisely would we wish to achieve a “family driven education system”. Sounds ghastly to me.

  2. 2 davidmc


    It has to be family driven in that they have to ultimately make the final decisions. Obviously new ideas and methods would come from those involved in the field. They would then have to convince parents and students to try them out.

    A regressive effect on incomes could be addressed by having vouchers confined to those on low incomes or that decline with income. I don’t know if that is as simple as it sounds. It needs to be followed up.

  3. 3 pedro

    David, to really turbo charge vouchers you want schools privatised so that poor management is rewarded with bankruptcy.

  4. 4 anita

    This is a hot topic for me, as soon i’ll have 3 school age children, and i’m trying to home educate after pulling out of our state school after being dodgy about the curriculum and emphasis (i’ve long favoured the Montessorri approach and would use a voucher if i had it to try and get my kids into a M School). Due to a developing issue with a looming student/family/teacher clash, we applied for an exemption from attending schoo, and received it approximately 3 months after seeing another one of the newsletters imploring us with energy saving tips, and a note that teachers from the school were involved with an environmental curriculum development group, and anyone interested could have a look. 

    Anyway trying to cut a long story short, i rang and asked for a copy, and was told there were no printed copies and was asked anyhow, why did i want it?. I truthfully said that i wanted to critique it and was told that i couldn’t have it.  After protesting that they offered and that peer review is all about dissemination and critique he relented and made an appointment after school. 

    I arrived and was sat down to be given a power point presentation like i was a child, and after about 10 mins i had the full flavour of OMG, and asked ‘tell me, Australians Against Further Immigration say Australia has a sustainable population level of 3 million people what do you think’?  He answered with ‘that sounds about right.’  At which point i terminated the interview taking with me with a few written materials – one paper presented to the conference which clearly states that the object of env. awareness is to make the kids env. warriors and saviours of the planet.  (Which i could find details of if anyone out there is interested in) Sheesh.  Don’t use the dryer, don’t use the aircon./heater etc..the usage=wastage line. 

    As well, things are getting worse not better with the introduction of the NAPLAN tests in my view.  I was talking to a grade 3 teacher a few days ago and she is feeling the pressure of being the teacher who is expected to whip them into shape for the tests. (years 3,5,7 etc) She said for some teachers years 1 & 2 are virtually play rooms, so she doesn’t think the tests ought to apply so young and that there is now too much emphasis on written work too early.  But of course the national testing policy was implemented in the name of the information being made available so that ‘interventions’ can happen early. 

    I think the transition between kindy and school is too soon and too quick.  These tests are designed to find the ‘problem’ children and have found that there are a huge number of ‘remedial’ cases.  But the real problem is not so much the individuals, but that the one size fits all approach of the education system (which varies from state to state) is wrong and there are a lot of voices out there advocating for sweeping reforms but largely falling upon deaf ears. 

    What we are currently working within at the state schools (which people are leaving in droves for private/religious private schools) caters for a small percentage of kids with a particular learning style and labels the rest somehow deficient.  (but inevitably developing varying levels of learning resistance)

    We need to develop an approach that encourages and accommodates differing learning styles and focuses less on trying to identify what ‘disability’/remedial program the family/child needs.

    Personally, i disagree with funding private (largely religious) schools, but disaffection with state schools is now so widespread that parents are crying out for further choices and a voucher system provides this.  If vouchers could be used to help make Montessorri schools more widespread and available i could be all for a voucher system.

    Not sure what you mean by ‘Competition could then be increased by cutting the public schools loose from their bureaucratic moorings so that they can go their own way and compete against each other’.  In SA for instance, a super school in our area downsized significantly selling off land and buildings and then within 5 years the land had been used for housing and building a smallish Catholic school.  So effectively, the kindy on the k-7 (super school) site became a primary feeder for 2 schools not 1. 

    As for being cut away from the bureaucratic moorings the libs effectively did this here recently when they made schools self-governing, but i’m not sure which is worse, being run by bureaucrats or the manipualtion of parent committees by the hierarchy and ingroups at the school.

    Re TAFE in SA: It is recently in the media that a ‘privatisation’ is on the cards – not so say the government – vouchers could really work to increase funding and participation in TAFE, if not then extension of the fee deferral process might be worth looking at.   I think we need child centred education in a socialist society so that people’s natural gifts are nurtured and encouraged. 

  5. 5 John Greenfield

    Arthur :It is far from obvious how to “accommodate” concerns about draining funds away from public education to private schools

    Actually the answer is extremely obvious. Just begin an information campaign showing that this so-called “draining away” is an outrageous lie peddled shamelessly by the completely innumerate AEU for years now. Just present the actual data to the nation.

  6. 6 keza

    Arthur wrote; “Why precisely would we wish to achieve a “family driven education system”. Sounds ghastly to me.”As far as I can see, David’s sense of “family driven” is quite different from the way it would be used by groups like Family First.

    The idea is to develop an education system in which many different approaches are on offer – and can be tested.  Some would succeed and others  wouldn’t.  But we’d want to rip education away from the government, and since children are brought up by families (however defined), it would be families who drove it.Yes, some groups would go ahead and establish wacko schools.  I’d be in favour of just letting this happen and waiting patiently for such approaches to demonstrate their bankruptcy and lose support.  I assume that David’s “minimal regulations relating to child protection and standards” would rule out schools which were  clearly  just indoctrination centres  (eg schools which took active measures to isolate children from society at large.).

    I don’t think that empowering families in this way would have the regressive effect of moving us back toward the notion that children are the property of their parents.   I think that would continue breaking down.

    Anita, you’d have to tolerate religious schools along with Montessori ones, but the religious schools would have a bit more competition.  All we can do is to let religion die a natural death as it becomes more and more irrelevant.  Any attempt to prevent people engaging in religious practices, or introducing their children to them, would be counter productive.

  7. 7 Arthur

    I haven’t studied the issues carefully and don’t have a clear view.But my prejudices are that the problems Anita describes vividly in the state system will not be solved by vouchers.Direct confrontation with the brainwashing is required both in state and private schools. Individual escapes aren’t the solution to a general problem affecting everyone.

  8. 8 Bill Kerr

    hi david,I think it’s a reasonable argument that teacher quality is the main factor that would make a difference. However, as a single item cure I don’t see how it follows that a voucher system would achieve that. I can’t help but think that it’s a case of an economist straying from their field of expertise (be it yourself or Friedmann) rather than a solution that arises internally from an understanding of education and learning. Of course, everyone thinks they are an expert, we all went to school.

    It’s true that Australian education is very much regulated compared to some other countries. But if say Charter schools were setup in Australia then that would only benefit those who go to those schools. It would enable some creativity and experimentation from the norm, but it wouldn’t solve the problem for everyone. ie. the more creative and innovative teachers would end up in the Charter schools – but possibly the main problem in Australian education is residualisation, the long tail of under achievement. Vouchers won’t solve that unless you do something else to increase the overall quality of teachers in the pool or some other measure that requires direct targetting of disadvantage.

    Did you know that  many Australian Primary teachers can’t do Grade 5 maths? Professor Louden from the University of Western Australia notes that a “very large proportion of students [doing combined education degrees] cannot do grade 5 maths, because they have not learnt maths at school and they became primary teachers because it is something you can do without being any good at maths”, if the main problem is teacher quality then why not approach that problem directly rather than in a roundabout way of vouchers?

    Based on PISA test scores, which I understand do test more than just recall, some now claim that the world’s best education system is Finland. What do they do in Finland? Well, for one, you need a Masters Degree to become a teacher there. I hasten to add that that is not the only way to improve teacher quality – but they are addressing that issue directly.

    I did analyse some of these issues earlier wrt the McKinsey report

    Family driven education works well for families with “cultural capital”. To shop around effectively you need to know quality, and that is far from obvious in some of those long streets in disadvantaged suburbs, where no one has worked for a generation. I can’t see any reference to social class in your analysis.

  9. 9 tomb

    What is “good Education”? I don’t believre you ever get good education from anyone who thinks they are teaching. Get rid of teachers and and let the learners get on with it. Schools are boring and it’s about time we got rid of them. You can’t change teachers or schools. They are institutions we don’t need. Tafe colleges giving degrees in potato peeling and resume writing, it just a junket. Education needs freedom!!!!!!!

  10. 10 John Greenfield

    tomb: Education needs freedom!!!!!!! Absolutely! And the two biggest jackboots on education and freedom in 2008? State government bureaucratic control and the AEU.

    BOTH are enemies of working class kids trying to learn

  11. 11 Rocky O'Rourke

    This entry is a perfect example of why this website can be correctly categorised as Friedmanite anti-left.
    Adherents of Friedmanism consider implementing his vision for ‘school vouchers’ as crucial unfinished business.
    So what you give us is series of assertions about how families need ‘choice’ and exercising that in a competitive education, market will improve learning. No evidence is offered to back this up but fortunately there is some to which we can refer.
    Back in the not-to-distant past Milton Friedman used to pall around with General Pinochet and at Milton’s suggestion Chile implemented a comprehensive voucher system in the early ’80s.
    This led to an explosion in the number of subsidised private schools and a system in which the education a child receives is very much determined by their parents’ income. It included all the usual neo-liberal education bells and whistles like high stakes testing, league tables and limits on the freedom to collectively bargain.
    So equity was sacrificed (i.e. the voucher system discriminates against working class kids) but did this result in the promised improvements in learning or the unleashing of innovation in schools to help children learn better? No. Chile’s performance on the OECD PISA tests is not noteworthy, in fact in some areas it is quite poor, surpassed by plenty of countries poorer and less developed. No one is flocking to Chile to see how vouchers improve learning because they don’t.
    “But vouchers give parents choice”. So what? As a parent I don’t have a problem with acknowledging that teachers in schools and the education department know more about schooling than me. Most parents would probably prefer that the school nearest to them is given every opportunity to provide their child with a high quality education than the choice to send their kid to any school in town (subject to income). By the way some parents don’t know what is best for their kids, as ‘Today Tonight/community services failed to protect baby x’ type stories demonstrate.
    A whole range of governance arrangements could then emerge including teacher cooperatives, non-profit associations and private firms.

    Unlikely. Business and religious groups are best placed to take over the running of schools and that is what is they are doing in the US and UK under the academy and charter systems. They use this opportunity to mould curriculum to suit their agenda and distribute lucrative cleaning, maintenance and other contracts as they see fit and, in the case or religions, employ their activists. What do you do if creationists win the ‘charter’ to run the school nearest to where you live? Parents, teachers or Friedman’s ‘activists’ don’t have the time after completing their work duties in today’s flexible labour market.

    Voucher money not spent on fees would be available…” The full voucher fee will be the minimum cost of schooling. Private schools will charge more. Any attempt to stop this would be an attack on the freedom of parents with more money. That is the evidence anyway. In Chile subsidised schools charge up to 4x the voucher amount.

    “Innovation”. This is probably overrated in education (reading and algebra haven’t changed that much) and anyway is not encouraged in voucher systems. This is because all schools are subject to high stakes testing and ranked in league tables, based on these, concentrating teaching time on the test subjects. This is consistent with Friedman’s sneering contempt for schools thinking they should teach arts, humanities and have pastoral care duties. I’ll wager however that he sent his own kids to private schools with well developed extra-curricular activities, counsellors etc.

    There is evidence in the latest PISA report that some competition can have a positive effect on school systems. A sensible suggestion might be allowing open enrolment of high school students. This would allow them to pursue specific interests, or flee school environments they don’t like at an age when they are able to travel to school by themselves. No need for ‘vouchers’. Other neo-liberal education ideas like performance pay and cutting funds to schools which perform badly in tests correlate very negatively with performance. Sorry but it’s true.
    There is no need to create a deregulated market in elementary schooling, or indeed at any level. This will only result in education opportunities being differentiated according to wealth with ‘educational capital’ being concentrated among the rich. That’s basic Marxism, vindicated by the Chile experience.

    If you are really interested in improving education you would look more closely at Finland. They guarantee every child the same high quality comprehensive education, all learning materials are provided (pens, rulers etc.) and there is such a thing as a free lunch: a healthy hot one every day. All while spending less than the OECD average on education!

    Class bias in schooling is largely eliminated and the results are outstanding. Not only is the Finnish system more equitable it is more efficient at creating human capital as witnessed by the PISA results and the economic strength built on high tech. industries. A real clever country.

    I think I get why the people with a little groupthink thing going on around this site support Friedmanite ideas. It is to further the development of capitalism to a stage at which Marx said the takeover by the working class would be inevitable.

    That doesn’t explain the support for vouchers however, which it is claimed will improve learning in bourgeois society. They won’t. They will reinforce class divisions. Therefore if you don’t think the revolution will come before your kid finishes school you would be a fool to support them as a socialist or worker.

    Unlike you however, Marx supported class struggle and didn’t suggest sitting idly by while the position of the working class went backwards. Presumably you accept that is the result of unregulated capitalism, the concentration of wealth. That is why big business finances the Cato institute. To fund some window dressing for policies that enrich them while their paid mouthpieces spout rubbish about wanting these things for the benefit of the workers.

    Attacking the freedoms of union members and determining education opportunities on wealth are anti-working class measures and if you get around supporting them you are not fit to call yourself socialist or Marxist regardless of whether or not you sprayed a few slogans on the walls of Monash Uni. 40 years ago.

  12. 12 youngmarxist

    Except, Rocky O’Rourke, that two people whose ideas and presence are very important to this site have opposed the position in the original article.So it’s not so much groupthink as different people here having very different ideas, which would be the *opposite* of groupthink. Argue against vouchers if you want, but try not to draw conclusions that are clearly wrong based on the evidence directly in front of you.But I do admire your “If you support vouchers you support Pinochet” implication. That’s very good. Could you teach me to do that?

  13. 13 patrickm

    I would like to add my name (as a ‘regular’ at this site who is not immediately impressed with Vouchers and the supposed choice to send my children to the other side of the city) as more evidence that this site is hardly group think at work.Having said that, I think Rocky has provided a thoughtful contribution and I can tell him that it is that very contribution – that addition to the debate, that all people blogging here and most contributing in the comments are looking for.    So Rocky, just accept that people getting something right or wrong does not make them a Marxist, and neither does thinking things through in public and putting forward views that were previously (or with similarity) put forward from the rightwing, rule one out of the ‘left’.  The important point is that through an open, honest, and forthright exchange of views about any problem we are all better able to develop theories for today and we desperately need that development of new theories. 
    For example the internet was just not part of the mix twenty years ago and now it is an absolute MUST part of any education process or system.  How is it that (our Australian) education system has handled the whole computer / internet process so badly?  I talk to a teacher in the field of computing and he would turn what’s happening on its head.  He can speak for himself, and I hope he does, because a concrete analysis of a concrete issue (how is this technology being dealt with and what is being ‘taught’ and what will the students be doing in ten years time) is for me the meat of this.  What will the student of today be doing in ten years time that his work today is preparing them for?
    I think the answer is not much, and the current system is unacceptable to the point of pulling my own children out of it and adopting home schooling, but I accept that this is no solution for most people.   Pulling them out, is on the one hand a pretty desperate measure and on the other also very much a measure of relative wealth where we are able to choose to spend far more of our limited lifetime with our children.  We are very happy as a result and happy children and parents IMV is an achievement in its own right.  But we still have to jump through hoops.  We are still formally supervised and ‘tested’ and we can cope with that.
    The views that are being pushed at, and even through, the schools are overwhelming green poison.  Sustainability is taught as a replacement for the more straightforward religious teaching of the past.  Organics are flogged in all the school gardens that are getting the kids ‘involved’ in a healthy life style.  Both views are then formally regurgitated by almost all the students churned out from the sausage machine system.  BUT most students only repeat the words of the religion that has been force fed to them.  Their subsequent practice is to buy conventionally farmed produce, buy a car; buy plane tickets and travel the world and live the life of modernity; all this while they think like a guilty Catholic that if everyone did as they do that we would collectively burn in the hell of global warming.  The end result is more fucked up people with similar thoughts and guilty behaviour similar to their grand-parents.  What a surprise one’s children end up like the grand-parents!
    Those that deeply accept the green poison and don’t successfully adopt the double standard and the ‘personal exceptions’ suffer the fate of either becoming teachers, and thus making the next cycle even worse of a spiral backwards into absurdity, or they drop out into hippy green-ism and the system has failed them!  Of course there are the exceptions like those that become revolting pop stars that both keep the views and get the Rolls Royce living of societies ‘winners’.
    I think that my local school has to change and competition has to flourish on the one site.  I think that sites where educational facilities are available as are teachers have to replace schools run by head masters.  I don’t think that sporting facilities and clubs run from this site require the boss of the school to carry on as they currently do, YET all the facilities require care and maintenance from an overall budget.  The same applies to the computing facility/ club or the library/club.  The librarian is usually left alone by the head to get on with the steady provision of that club and the budget led replacement of its equipment, all equivalent to bats and balls and the oval where play and practice takes place.  But if there is a problem (and life throws them up regularly) the head has to manage that problem so though I don’t want to see all powerful heads they do a job that must be done!  That job has to be streamlined and reduced to the low level management tasks that it mostly is.  The stuff that goes on at schools just isn’t ‘rocket science’ nor will it ever be.  When children are ready to do rocket science then they ought to be where that is done. 
    If competition is flourishing then in the end the kids know that they require testing and they want to be tested.  They want real competition against their peers.  They play football to win and they know that if the team doesn’t play better than the other one ‘the team’ loses and goes down in the rankings.  They know what it means to be at a school and also know that they play to improve their skills and develop to try their best to win their position on the ground if they can.  Competition only exists in team sports in the context of co-operation.  The team has to improve and recognize the reality of all the team members and what is required to bring all of them along.  I am in favor of that collective spirit flourishing but am not naive to the point of ignoring the personal competitions that we all get involved in at various stages of life.
    The proposal on Vouchers is obviously an attempt to force competition and objective testing onto the agenda against an entrenched but failed and failing system.  Those that run their own lives in a manner removed from strong winds of competition for themselves do however compete in the softer manner for the top jobs within the system, and since like tends to employ like so the conservatives win.  These conservatives tend to move their own children into the private system (because their own salaries have steadily risen as they moved up the chain to take over the running of schools).  They do this not just because they can but they choose to after they can because they know that to get the good degree that’s the best chance for their kids.  They know that the real business of the education system in our capitalist system is winnowing through competition.  Competition that suddenly springs upon the unsuspecting inexperienced adolescent at the pointy end just as it sneaks up on the parents of those kids even if a little earlier. 
    The best schools get ‘results’ because they get rid of those that disrupt the work!  The teachers work with better facilities and improve their own teaching as a result of the combination of these factors as well as being head hunted for quality in the first instance. Kids from the head teachers ‘class’ of people are upwardly mobile yuppies aware of the competition from a very early age and kept at the task by their experienced parents in the best environment.  That’s why the Chinese students do so well.  The way they get to Carnegie Hall is ‘practice, practice, practice’.  
    The ruling-class and their petty bourgeois servants are not interested in even thinking about competition because that is the reality of their world.  The best test and keep focused.  The masses scramble for what is leftover in an environment of constant disruption and lower expectations.
    After the always tested have gotten the lions share at university level, those that come from the sometimes tested schools compete for the places that are left.  Those that are never tested are just not playing in this game.  Now even if the whole lot rose up a level, nothing would change in job outcome except generally higher educated people and so that would be the only result that we could be after with Vouchers and that’s good enough because other problems can’t be solved by addressing education but better educated masses can then fix more of the worlds problems.
    Now how this ‘insight’ helps in a discussion of how to empower people against bureaucrats and other dead heads and time servers by the use of vouchers is that I can’t see that the big hurdles in education can be altered in anyway by waving this money around without rejecting people with the money.
    The big issue is to get rid of those that disrupt the work.  Their impact is dramatic, and that is why the flight from the public sector is apparent.  The level that are not under any risk of being gotten rid of in the public sector disrupt the work and would not be tolerated in the ‘best’ schools. 
    These schools serve classes of people and are not constantly looking for expansion of either their grounds or their number of students.  They are service providing businesses not pure profit machines.  They have already got people waving money at them and they tell them to piss off.
    The public schools reflect the suburbs that they service.  Those involved come to their work and experience standards that reflect the kids that go there.  The lower the socioeconomic background the greater the number of disruptive students.  The greater the number of disruptive students the greater the tolerance for the next level down from the worst disrupters (that are taking up such a large slab of the teachers work time) and the efficiency falls.  Disruptive students are ‘shot’ for far less in richer suburbs and so standards rise.
    High standards of behavior for those that are actively learning is vital to the work – vital to the standard reached on average at the different schools.  No amount of voucher will keep your kid from being shot if they cross that floating boundary established by the rising standard and expectation of the suburb / class divided school.
    Standards and expectations are reflective of the place and time classes of people live in and through.  We are now entering a period of capitalist crises and thus many will loose their jobs and their relationships will suffer as financial pressures mount.  Many will work harder to stay afloat and thus their family input will suffer.  Broken homes will rise under the increasing pressure and so to will alcoholism and other problems that will lead to the consequent bad (incredibly disruptive) behaviour seen by teachers.  Community structure will change accordingly and an overall fall in standards will result.  In short I think it is easy to predict that things will now get worse across the whole spectrum of schools.  Then after a couple of years of this downward process demoralization will effect many students as they ask themselves what is the point when there is no job out there for me even if I pass.  The falling tide lowers every ship but those already on the mud are stranded.
    Our ruling class has attempted to deal with this problem in the realm of public housing and in the manner that they have, have show up the problem for the schools.  The housing Trust previously built whole suburbs but they became something of ghettos.  So they now attempt to hide the public housing in among the private housing.  They scatter the public housing about in the slightly higher class suburbs and so the kids go to the schools there.  Then the problems reemerge at the schools and kids that would have survived in the lower expectation schools get thrown out for lesser disruptive behaviour at these schools.
    Bill said; ‘…but possibly the main problem in Australian education is residualisation, the long tail of under achievement. Vouchers won’t solve that unless you do something else to increase the overall quality of teachers in the pool or some other measure that requires direct targeting of disadvantage.’
    Possibly rising levels of unemployment for graduates will present many new candidates wanting to teach and a voucher system would sack the time servers and roll over the staff much faster than current methods but I’m not sure that I would want to see teachers struggled with in this way.
    Arthur said ‘Direct confrontation with the brainwashing is required both in state and private schools. Individual escapes aren’t the solution to a general problem affecting everyone.’
    This is true but competition also forces change as results speak louder than endless arguments in our limited lives.  Attempting direct confrontation can be a waste of effort like a frontal assault on a strong point.  If individuals escape and collect together up ahead they can be a powerful force that attracts other change warriors and vouchers could help that.  Results do speak much louder than words and striving to get those results is often more important than trying to dig out the well dug in. The strong points are then able to be taken later.
    So I see good things to say about vouchers but this issue is not straight forward for me.
    Anyway I hope that Rocky notices that in my two minds a group think is in creative conflict 😉       

  14. 14 tomb

    Sorry, just don’t see the point in trying to reform a system that is redundant.

    It doesn’t matter what education level teachers have, they are still teachers taught in the same system that stinks. The longer they have been in the system the worse they are probably going to be.

    If you have “faith” in the system then you might think the top of the pile is the way to go, and pluck Finland, based on some irrelevant test as the model.

    It would be better to look at what education should be trying to achieve and what resources are available to to achieve it. Formal education served its purpose of training workers for the new technology. It seems that the expectations of education have moved beyond that however. But under this system it is not possible.  Consequently students are bored, and most of the time they spend at school is a total waste and they know it!!!

    You could teach in 3-4 years what students learn in 12 years. 

    Education today helps some, but rather than stimulate it stifles most. I would be happier talking about an alternative to formal education, and promoting a revolution to achieve it.

  1. 1 Don’t incentives apply in the educational sector? at catallaxyfiles

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