Monday 28 July 2008

Some teachers are not that bright

The SMH plays host to another anti-Howard dig today, this time from an ex-teacher complaining about the "lack of funding" for state schools.

Here are some things to ponder.

School education is a state, not federal, responsibility. NSW has had a Labor government for longer than I can remember, so if state schools are falling apart, who is to blame?

People who hate private schools like to trot out statistics that paint state school funding in a bad light, usually by only looking at the funds that schools get from the commonwealth, and ignoring the money that the states provide. But think about this - private schools run with very little overhead. Most of the money that they get is spent on their schools.

I was told today that when Charlie Court was Premier in WA, his education minister was horrified to find that 60% of all education spending was swallowed by the head office of the Department of Education - and there was nothing he could do about it. Charlie Court didn't want to upset anyone - the last thing he wanted was an education revolution.

That was the better part of 30 years ago, and under a long standing Liberal government.

Just imagine how bad things these days after decades of entrenched Labor rule. The teachers at the front line are probably quite right to complain about underfunding, but they are attacking the wrong target. Instead of attacking this government or that government for failing to spend enough at each budget, they should be attacking their own head office. If you went through the Department with a very big axe, you could probably cut the overall education budget and still deliver more funding to schools.

This is nothing new to me. I spent a few years in a public sector organisation, and an audit found that 50% of their money was spent on head office (we're talking 50% of an annual budget of about $1 billion) - and that was after 15 years of slashing the workforce and implementing all sorts of efficiency gains and productivity improvements.

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