Tuesday, 24 March 2009

This morning there are complaints....

from schools that they are not seeing the federal funds assigned to the state government for the purposes of education. This is hardly surprising. The state government appears to be terrified of providing schools with any autonomy for fear they might 'waste' the money. (It is, of course, perfectly acceptable for the government to waste the money.) A school cannot possibly be permitted to decide what it spends money on.
Now, I agree there should be guidelines. Some idiot would always want to spend it on something totally unsuitable. Most school principals are however reasonable beings with the interests of their pupils at heart. Even if I personally disagree with the manner in which reading is (not) taught there are plenty of mutterings about spending the funds on literacy and numeracy programmes.
All this rather reminds me of the days when Gough Whitlam's government was spending money as if it was going out of fashion and they had to get rid of as much as possible. We had money for school libraries. The head of the school I was in vaguely thought that the option of an expensive multi-volume encyclopaedia might be the answer. Fortunately an alternative was presented from on high in the form of a long list of books we could order from. I never saw the books because I left but I think everyone would have been well used. The only volume of an encyclopaedia which gets well used in schools is the one which includes the letter 's'.
If they must spend money in this casual fashion, without so much as national curriculum guidelines and support staff, then the powers that be should spend it on books....the only problem is that they are not teaching children to read them.

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