Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

36 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Dear Bemused,

    Terribly sorry for assuming that the ALP supports the general basis of controlling our borders, in fact wants a dedicated Coast Guard to stop illegal entrants etc.

    I suppose we should just let everybody who wants to come and live in Australia come on over – don’t need to apply or prove your identity or anything, just come on down!.

    And while we are at it lets raise the rates of all welfare benfits and allow anybody who wants to just stay on welfare for ever – how does that sound – much nicer and less divisive. Perhaps we should ask Kevin and Maxine what they think of those ideas.

  2. alpaca, the Fiscal Federalism you refer to has been more than adequately compensated for with the GST. It would have been a lot better if the Democrats (good riddance) hadn’t buggered it up so much.

  3. pseudonym (23) I think that’s what I was trying to say, that at least a majority of people would send their kids to private schools if they could afford it. It’s not, in my opinion money well spent, though. The teaching is not particularly better and often the classrooms no better resourced than some. It’s like a Mercedes. You pay a premium for the badge but don’t get that much more car. But you have to spend your $100,000 to find this out.
    I suspect, also, that some people send their kids to private schools to save them from the “others”, the rough people, that go to the public system.
    Some research has shown that private school students tend to do better at school but significantly less well at university than publicly-educated students.
    I’ve been around a lot of schools in work I’ve done and I’m clear that the quality of education depends on the quality of the individual teachers. The quality of the school’s learning and social culture depends almost entirely on the principal. Of the best two schools I have ever been in one was a state high school and the other private. How I judged was by the quality of the relationships among students and between students and teachers – whether learning was being nurtured and valued by everyone in the school.
    I would never ever send a child to any catholic school again.
    The best teacher I met, in twelve years, was at Menai Public. She was extraordinary but left the year after I met her because she couldn’t take the system any more.

  4. Gee Razor, you sure have that straw man debating trick off pat!

    I don’t know of anyone who argues for open borders on your model. In fact in some respects they are too porous as, for example, there is too little customs inspection of shipping containers.

    All I and others would seek is an efficient and humane processing of asylum seekers according to international agreements to which Australia is a party.

    All Howard does with all his gratuitous cruelty and theatrics is waste money on an inefficient and expensive system that in the end admits most asylum seekers.

  5. Graham,

    IMHO a better analogy would be like deciding to use a Mini Minor or a Mercedes bus to transport a large group of people from point A to point B. Both vehicles will do it, but one will do it faster, safer and more efficiently than the other.

    “Some research has shown that private school students tend to do better at school but significantly less well at university than publicly-educated students.�

    What research is that? It sounds like some disinformation you’d hear on “The O’Reilly Factor; he often says “some people say bla bla bla…… “
    http://www.foxnews.com/oreilly/

    “The quality of the school’s learning and social culture depends almost entirely on the principal� and “the quality of education depends on the quality of the individual teachers.�

    Catholic and private schools communities have the autonomy to hire and fire principals and staff, as opposed to the state system that has staff dictated by a central bureau. If the quality of education is dependent on the principal and teachers would not it be an advantage to have this autonomy?

  6. In response to Razor (post #27):
    I disagree. The GST replaced the existing taxes that were present in 2000, but not the excise powers that were taken from the states. Also, the GST revenue is administered through the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which is (theoretically) under Federal control.

    On the one hand, I can see that it’s probably in the best interests of business and the public at large to have a single tax collection system, but on the other it makes for poor political economy to have the states lined up outside Parliament house with their collection plates.

  7. ” to have a single tax collection system”..”but on the other it makes for poor political economy to have the states lined up..

    The easy solution to that problem is to abolish the states.

  8. alpaca – all the GST revenue goes to the states – there is a little argy bargy how it is divvied up, but it all goes to the states. Prior to the GST the States had no certainty of getting a cut of the Federal pie – now they do. It would have been bigger if the Democrats (good riddance) hadn’t buggered it up, as usual.

    Wot Tony G said!!! The States are an anachronism from a colonialist age – I would have thought the lefties would have given their left nut/ovary to get rid of a colonial relic, but few seem to have the passion for that fight – they’d rather see the Coaltion lose in Iraq, allowing Al Queda to use Iraq as a base, than fight for that something as rational as reducing the tiers of government.

  9. Pseudonym (30):
    http://www.monash.edu.au/news/newsline/story/350
    Public school students perform well at university
    6 April 2005

    A study released today by Monash University researchers Ian Dobson and Eric Skuja has found students from public schools outperform those from private schools when they reach university.

    Mr Dobson said a survey of 12,500 first year Monash University students revealed public school students who left Year 12 with lower marks than their private school rivals overtook them academically at university.

    “Once on a level playing field, students from non-selective government schools tend to do much better,” he said.

    “Private school students have an advantage at exam time in Year 12 because they have access to more resources. However, this advantage evaporates when they reach university.”

    The report found that once at university, public school students performed better academically in their first year compared with private school students who received similar ENTER scores.

    “We found that, on average, government school students performed about five percentage points better than students from independent schools,” Mr Dobson said.

    The study confirmed that private school students generally received higher Year 12 marks than those from the public system but showed that any edge gained was lost in the first year of a bachelor degree.

    In some areas some principals do have the power to choose at least some of their teachers, and to reject some others but I think you are right that schools should be able to choose teachers for themselves, although I’m not sure what would happen to the teachers nobody wants – there are few enough to go around as it is. The problem for a parent is that in the state systems with the high turnover in both teachers and principals performance is uneven. A great school can become a disaster area with a simple change of principal or a couple of teachers, while at private schools these things tend to be more stable. You can predict to some extent what you are getting for your child. It’s just that what you are getting is hugely overpriced for the frankly mediocre quality they provide.

  10. Graham,

    IMHO the study undertaken by Dobson and Skuja provides very little if any conclusive evidence about comparing student performance.
    It should be noted that Dobson has a history of undertaking commissioned reports for the Victorian Education Department, so the independence of the report should be questioned.
    The report isn’t freely available for critical or pier review. To obtain a copy a $16 fee has to be paid.

    “We found that, on average, government school students performed about five percentage points better than students from independent schools,” Mr Dobson said. Performing five percentage points better ONLY in their FIRST YEAR is hardly a variance at all and could be put down to a statistical aberration. The parameters used (which are not freely publicised or transparent) could easily distort to a variance of 5%.

    Meaningful and clear indicators of performance are clearly lacking from the study. The study is conspicuous by its omissions. It fails to address issues that are clear indicators of performance. Like…

    • The percentage of private school students that enter university compared to the percentage of public school students.
    • The percentage of private school students that complete university compared to the percentage of public school students.
    • The percentage of private school students that enter the more onerous courses compared to the percentage of public school students.
    • The percentage of private school students that graduate with a degree of excellence compared to the percentage of public school students.

    I am not advocating these indicators will favour one system over the other, but at least they would be the basis for an informed debate.
    I doubt if the teachers federation or the state education departments will be commissioning a study utilising these realistic parameters?

    I agree with your statement:
    “It’s just that what you are getting is hugely overpriced�
    It certainly is when a public school student gets $10,000 per year of total government funding and a private student only gets $5,000. The private school parent who is taxed at an equal rate, has to further subsidise public education by coughing up an extra $5000 per year, just to ensure equal educational funding for his or her child.

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