I am dismayed, disheartened and frankly angry at what has been reported in this morning’s paper suggesting that somehow public schools are being run as ‘commercial firms in a stock market’ and sheeting home blame to the publication of performance information on the Federal Government’s MySchool web site.
This is a predictable backlash and reactionary campaign by education establishment conservatives (that is, the AEU, Principal’s associations and some academics).
It was always going to be the case that as the public in this country were offered greater insight into the workings and achievements of OUR school, that those who have practiced the long held Code of Silence would react and begin fear mongering over what the availability of this information (to which we as the funders of public education have a fundamental right) would lead to.
It is preposterous for this Sydney academic to suggest that resources in public schools are shifting to marketing and branding of public schools, and for others to allege that principals would start enrolling so called ‘high performing’ students in preference to others who might impact on the success of the so called ‘school business’.
I find it ironic that the President of the state’s Primary Principal’s Association has stated as negative, the fact that public schools (although he refers to them as ‘government' schools, but they are OURS) are under great pressure to better manage students.
That is precisely what the transparency push is all about. Better management, better teaching and better student outcomes.
It is thoroughly misleading for Professor Connell to say that students from socio-economic or socio-educational backgrounds would lose out. In fact students going to schools that are not performing well should greatly benefit because resources can be allocated, or other changes made, to ensure a more effective education is offered to all.
The Primary Principals Association president also raised concerns about the need for principals to manage better. Well I have been saying for years that to be a principal is long past simply being the head teacher, but now entails significantly greater responsibilities in managing an organisation providing education, often with millions of dollars of infrastructure, sometimes over 100 staff and many hundreds of students, with community involvement responsibilities as well as project management requirements. But we don’t train anyone for this very important role, and most are unprepared, unskilled and unable to effectively carry out this very vital role of leading and managing our public schools.
Rather than wailing and gnashing teeth, the AEU, some principals and some academics should take the lead of progressive principals, their governing bodies and staff and see competition as an elixir for striving for better outcomes, high standards and more relevant education services for all the children, young people and their families that OUR public schools serve.