MICHAEL FURTADO. Why Quentin Dempster, Malcolm Turnbull and John Warhurst are wrong about Catholic School Funding

We are at an historic moment of apocalyptic threat to the survival of the Australian Catholic Church, the Catholic Bishops say. Among the institutions facing their greatest threat are Australia’s Catholic Schools. Here’s what’s happening.

On attaining office Scott Morrison announced an additional $4.6 billion in federal funding for non-government schools. “Our government believes that parents should have choice in education,” he explained. “The policies that we pursue as a government are about ensuring that choice for parents.” The extra cash was branded as the Choice and Affordability Fund.

As public policy, this announcement, following upon the Gonski 2 Reforms, was an abject failure for Catholic schools. Every year reports of steep increases in private school fees surface in the media, along with stories of parents struggling to cope. Now figures from the My School website, encompassing every school in Australia and incorporating all sources of revenue, confirm what anecdotal evidence has long suggested.

Despite an evidently huge boost in public funding, private schools haven’t reduced their fees. Between 2011 and 2017, the average tuition fee at non-government schools grew from $3600 to $4700. By 2017, fees averaged $2290 at primary schools, $5700 at secondary level and $8560 at combined K–12 schools. Private school principals and lobbyists often point to rising costs, but this increase equates to an average annual hike in tuition fees of 4.5 per cent, which is more than twice the rate of inflation.

What this makes clear is that more public spending on private schools has not put downward pressure on fees; it has merely compounded the resource advantage enjoyed by those who can afford a private school education, while excluding the poor from them. Net recurrent income per student increased by 29 per cent to just under $20,000 at Independent schools and by 33 per cent (to more than $16,000) at Catholic schools.

When the Howard government presided over a substantial increase in federal funding to non-government schools in 2000, the then Prime Minister predicted that fees would soon fall as a result. Various principals confirmed that fee cuts were imminent, and the executive director of the Independent Schools Council disclosed that many schools were ‘poised to move very quickly’ to reduce costs to parents.

Howard’s education minister, Dr David Kemp, claimed that ‘the new arrangements will particularly extend choice to low-income families.’ ‘Choice in schooling is now a reality for working-class Australian families,’ Minister Kemp told parliament. At the prior Australian Parents Council Conference at Nudgee College, Brisbane (1997) Dr Kemp claimed that his government regarded school-funding policy as akin to a ‘social justice’ strategy. Its purpose was to give opportunity to ‘kids who might otherwise languish academically for want of choice’.

After his Keynote Address, I publicly asked Dr Kemp why he should not consider the full-funding of Catholic systemic schools, thereby placing them on an equal footing with state schools, thus enabling them to offer genuine school choice and also to better pursue their mission, first and foremost, to educate the poor. Dr Kemp agreed that this was an ‘interesting idea’, notwithstanding the opposition such a policy would engender from state and independent school, and despite Church teaching that the Catholic school is not a private school.

Two decades later, the My School data reveals a very different story. Far from making school choice a reality for low-income families, the policies pursued by Dr Kemp and his successors have had the opposite effect. In 2018, 36 per cent of students at public schools came from the most disadvantaged quartile of Australian society. Only 17 per cent of students at Catholic schools came from the same group. The proportion of very disadvantaged kids at Independent schools was even less, at just 14 per cent.

Currently funding policy is largely determined by the SES-status of non-government school locations: the higher their socio-economic-status the lower the funding and vice-versa. On the face of it this economic-rationalist argument appears unassailable, but what it results in is SES-specific schools, whose catchment and geography can have damaging impacts on the curriculum, reinforcing social and cultural reproduction and stymieing diversity and inclusivity.

Nowadays parents living outside a Catholic school’s catchment have to contend with a widely-differentiated scale of Catholic school-fees to augment the neoliberal dogma of ‘market choice’, rather than a standard fee common to all schools in the Catholic system. Instead, Catholic schools are being dragooned into operating class-differentiated schools.

For instance, in the Brisbane suburbs of Wynnum and Manly parents are distracted from focusing on the Catholic character of the school in which to enrol their children by having to contend with a differentiated scale of school fees. St Jean Vianney, Manly, whose higher-SES positioning means that it earns less funding than Guardian Angels, Wynnum, has to augment its resources by charging parents higher fees ($1860 p.a.) than Wynnum ($1620 p.a.), which has a socio-economic-status lower than Manly’s.

This differentiated Catholic school fees-effect, more pronounced where overall Brisbane archdiocesan enrolment statistics and the funding they attract are read as a whole, serves to drive a class-based wedge, already evident across Australia in terms of where middle-class parents enrol their children, and regardless of whether they attend state or non-government schools. While numerous overseas and Australian studies show that increased funding for disadvantaged students brings improved student outcomes, to link increases to socio-economic factors is problematic.

In sum, the current funding model exacerbates the socio-economic differences that already obtain in a deregulated economy, thereby offending against the principle of equal opportunity through schooling, which is widely regarded in the developed world as a public good, available to all, so that they can benefit from and focus on the common good rather than possessive individualism. And it also challenges Catholic teaching that the Catholic school serves a public-function.

The same deleterious effect that differentiates Wynnum from Manley is widely replicated throughout Australia, especially in inner-city Catholic schools. These, in order to survive, are forced to prioritise their intake of inner-city dwellers, who disproportionately constitute a wealthy subset of Australian society that can afford to meet the higher-fee structures that, among other postcode-ordained differentiated outcomes (Wayne Swan, 2005), inner-city Catholic schools have been forced to charge under the Gonski 2 proposals.

My current postdoctoral research into the Catholic primary school populations of inner-city Brisbane reveals a colonizing effect on them from wealthier inner-city residents, as well as a discernible pattern of transition from them to high-fee exacting inner-city secondary schools, some of them Catholic. While no argument is advanced here about the differentiating effect of inner-city state-schools (in respect of which parents who favour them save on fees by paying high mortgages to gain access to their equally exclusive catchments) what such a trend does is to place limits on the counter-cultural mission of Catholic schools.

While the National Catholic Education Commission strenuously opposed this aspect of the Gonski 2 proposals, using the last federal election to swing the vote against the government, in recent times it has negotiated a deal to correct the above anomalies. However, a body that is largely appointed by the Bishops to its senior policy forums is unlikely to digress radically from established Catholic-sector funding-policy practice, relying on this kind of pressure politics brought to bear on Prime Ministers by archbishops before elections. This age-old Catholic sector funding policy strategy needs to drastically change, as Quentin Dempster’s commentary of Malcolm Turnbull’s criticisms of his dealings with Archbishop Comensoli suggests.

At state-based Catholic Education Commission levels several Executive Directors have repeatedly drawn attention to the insidious effects of Gonski 2 funding reforms as they took effect, and in respect of which Catholic-school enrolments began to decline. In effect this negative funding effect also casts doubt on the reform mechanisms of Gonski 2, intent upon improving Australia’s standing in global school performance tables.

In several similar overseas jurisdictions Catholic schools are treated on an equal basis to state schools so that parents are given a genuine choice between enrolling their children in two fully-funded public school systems on the basis of their competing and historically-linked special-character positions and philosophies rather than their wealth.

The refusal by all sides – Church and State – to explore such models has resulted in a uniquely Australian phenomenon in comparative global school effects, obscuring the fact that while selective Australian schools, both private and public, score very highly in comparative global school performance outcomes, the funding-driven social differentiation that Australian schools, both public and private, reinforce, accounts for the continuing overall averaged mediocrity of Australian rankings as a whole, obscuring that fact that low-SES schools perform poorly.

And in referring approvingly in this journal to Fraser’s criticism of Archbishop Comensoli of Melbourne, John Warhurst ought to have understood this. After all, his partner, Joan Warhurst, was for several recent years Chief Executive Officer of the National Catholic Education Commission and, as critically active members of the Canberra Catholic community, the unique and politically problematic issue of the Australian Catholic school funding policy strategy cannot have escaped their keen policy attention over the very many years of their joint professional careers.

In the current post-statist policy climate, when the instruments of state authority are employed to counter the historically-acknowledged inclusive effects of Catholic schools in the name of economic deregulation and treating schools equitably, Australian school funding policy makers on all sides need to return to the drawing board in order to build both an Australia and a Catholic Church that are ‘inclusive’ (National Theme for Discernment, Australian Catholic Plenary Council 2020).

Michael Furtado is a Catholic educator and education policy sociologist. His postdoctoral research is conducted through The University of Queensland, where he obtained his doctorate in the funding of Australian Catholic schools.

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24 Responses to MICHAEL FURTADO. Why Quentin Dempster, Malcolm Turnbull and John Warhurst are wrong about Catholic School Funding

  1. Avatar Chris Curtis says:

    Funding non-government schools on the basis of their SES level, whether measured by the income, education and occupation levels of the students’ neighbours (area-based) or the incomes of the students’ parents (direct income measure), instead of the school’s fees, socially stratifies schools. Both AB SES and DIM SES punish the most inclusive non-government schools, those that take in middle-class families but keep their fees low to allow poor families to enrol too, by cutting their funding and forcing their fees up, driving out the poorer families into the local government school.

  2. Avatar Chris Curtis says:

    I am the only person in the country who put a funding model to the Gonski review. The public education lobby has spent decades bemoaning the fact that Australia, like the rest of the OECD, funds non-government schools, but no one in it took the opportunity that Gonski presented to propose an alternative model, which is the reason the panel endorsed the flawed Howard government SES one.

  3. Avatar David Zyngier says:

    Can Michael please explain why there are many local Catholic Primary Schools that actually receive MORE public funding than their neighbouring public primary school?
    For example, Newbury Primary School in Craigieburn has 83% of its students from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB) and it receives approximately $10K per student from the public. Its neighbour, Oscar Romero Catholic Primary School has 80% NESB students but receives a massive $21k per student from the public. The Federal Schooling Resource Standard for primary schools for 2020 is $11,747 for primary schools. Another Craigieburn Catholic primary school Mother Teresa School with only 45% NESB students receives almost $12.5K per student. How can this be fair? There must be something very wrong with the way our public schools are being funded.

    Also in 2019 the average costs for metropolitan Catholic school tuition were $2211 primary and $6477 secondary, while for private/independent schools were $9664 for primary $19556 in secondary. A better figure as Michael would agree would be the median costs. https://www.asg.com.au/doc/default-source/2019-ASG-Planning-for-Education-Index/2019-australia–metro—estimated-schooling-costs.pdf?sfvrsn=0

    • Avatar Chris Curtis says:

      David,

      I don’t know about Michael, but I can. I really need more than 100 words to do the question justice. Briefly, Victoria has underspent on its own government schools since the Kennet era and, while the current Labor government has narrowed the gap with the rest of the nation, it has not closed it. But federal funding is based on the higher national average not Victorian spending. The AEU keeps spending low by signing inferior EBAs year after year. NESB is not the only criterion for need. I don’t support the present SES funding model.

    • Avatar Michael FURTADO says:

      As you know, David, I’m an education policy sociologist, so the reasons I’d tender for the continued popularity and success of Catholic schools against state schools (notwithstanding the abuse scandals) would relate to globalisation and the changed meanings that people and governments invest in cultural commodities, which is what schools now are. Therefore I consulted Chris Curtis and this explanation elaborates on his response to you.

      The overriding reason is the underspending by Victorian governments on government schools for many years, which is partly the fault of the AEU that keeps agreeing to EBAs that leave schools worse staffed than they were 40 years ago and which is now being corrected by the Andrews government.

      This underspending does not affect federal payments to non-government schools in Victoria as they are based on national averages, not Victorian stats. Another is the flawed Howard/Gonski SES funding model: the one that ignores school fees in the allocation of funds.

      Yet another is school size, as smaller schools cost more per enrolled student than larger schools (though not necessarily more per successful student – but that’s another issue). Another is the different number of students with disadvantage loadings of different sorts, as you know, and not just your citation of NESB but no other disadvantage factors.

      Catholic schools in Victoria provide extra funding for refugee children, for example; and educate a great many of them, be they Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim or Calathumpian: complex reasons for this, partly to do with the fact that Asian, African and Middle-Eastern migrants often come from polities in which Catholic schools are Europeanised and have a reputation for social mobility accession.

      As far as the St Oscar Romero School goes, Chris explains that he asked the Catholic Education Office about its high funding (Chris is a state school teacher and has no axe to grind on this question). They responded that it was a new school. New schools are small and small school attract a larger investment per student than a large one.

      Not currently being obliged to educate every Australian child (unlike the rest of the OECD), Catholic Education plans its schools very carefully to ensure potential for maximum growth in the long run, and, accordingly, have fewer closures than state schools (but lots of amalgamations!)

      I note that Dutton Park State School in Brisbane has lost its music program because of falling numbers that have gone to St Ita’s next door, which has attracted that extra funding. Also Ita’s parents run a tuck-shop but Dutton Park SS cannot even offer that facility for 2-3 days a week!

      These are, regrettably but truthfully (and not just ideologically!) some of the factors influencing not just parents but governments in deciding which schools to fund in these post-statist times.

  4. Avatar Andrew Phelan says:

    It seems obvious that discussion on this important issue will go around and around, for any number of good and bad, subjective and objective, reasons, until there is some semblance of transparency in the financial and other governance processes in the Catholic Church (and in other religions too), which allows taxpayers to understand what public money is going where and why. I understand that, whatever funding formulas are used by governments, Australian bishops wish to retain discretion to allocate, within their fiefdoms, the resources where they consider appropriate, while resisting public accountability for their actions and the reasons for them. The Catholic Church needs to be accountable publicly for its distribution and use of public resources, and governments should support this by reviewing religions’ privileged positions under charities, taxation and banking legislation.

    • Avatar Chris Curtis says:

      Andrew,

      Under Gonski recommendation 23, systemic education authorities, whether Catholic or state government, were always to have the discretion to allocate the funds to their own schools in accordance with their own policies and processes, and they are required to report publicly on it.
      I can’t include the full recommendation as I am sticking to the 100-word limit we are given.

    • Avatar Michael FURTADO says:

      Quadrennial funding (i.e. allocated in the budget every four years because schools are long-term, slow-change entities) is assiduously accounted for as every tax-payer and citizen should know. Moreover, audits, both internal and external to Catholic and state schools, are periodically and regularly conducted to ensure that public monies are spent on the programs for which they are allocated.

      The First Assistant Secretary, Schools Funding Division, Commonwealth Department of Finance, Mark Jurkiewicz, detailed how this is done (replicated in my PhD Thesis, UQ, 2001, pp 289-203). Mr Jurkiewicz also signed an interview script to that effect, which satisfied both my supervisors and external examiners.

      However, I corroborated Finance’s account with the First Assistant Secretary (Schools Division) Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Mr Bill Daniels, who gave me a detailed run-down of the inspections conducted to ensure that public monies were appropriately expended, and, if not, returned. Mr Daniels also signed the recorded interview script. (ibid, pp 293-297).

      I did this because in the course of conducting my Masters research (in Politics, UWA, 1988) into the regulatory impact of Catholic Education Commissions on Catholic school protocols and practices (curriculum, funding, leadership, administration) I unearthed the case of a Catholic school in which the Sister in charge had spent her school’s funds on building the church next door.

      Of course, the Executive Director of WA Catholic Schools, Mgr Nestor, insisted that the parish repay the funds to the school. I recorded this as part of a case study indicating the impact of regulation on what were hitherto somewhat chaotically organised and inexactly differentiated instances in which some principals regarded themselves as independent and unaccountable.

      The episcopate pay very little attention to how schools function other than to ensure that the Religious Education Program is properly accredited and discharged. Diocesan funds are not spent on schools, other than peripherally, as in the case of Religious Education programming and accreditation. Everything else must meet secular accountability norms and practices. I was an Education Officer, Brisbane Catholic Education (1985-92) and can verify this.

      Some independent Catholic schools present an image akin to that of non-Catholic independent schools, but such schools are order-owned (or congregationally-owned) and apart from their RE programs are not beholden to the Bishops.

      Catholic schools do raise some of their own finances but these are modestly done as reflected by the SES of their catchment. Independent schools – most of them non-Catholic – obviously have the capacity to raise a great deal more money, as is reflected by the fees they are able to charge. In those instances accounts must be presented to Parents & Friends bodies for auditing and approval. I iterate that I favour the cessation of funding to all independent schools, whether Catholic or not, as is the case in all other OECD polities.

      Any lack of transparency relates to differentiated sources of funding, i.e. from the Commonwealth and state governments. Anna Bligh, while Premier of Queensland, expressed the view at an ANZSOG Symposium at the Brisbane Hilton in 2004 that one source of funding was both constitutionally possible as well as ‘transparently’ desirable. Perchance our new COAG arrangements will address this. With the Bishops and Major Superiors on the ropes in regard to the abuse scandal, I can’t them disagreeing. Nor should they!

  5. Avatar John Thomas says:

    I love Michael’s argument that our federal government should fund Catholic schools because in other countries Catholic schools have been integrated into public systems (sounds a bit Jesuitical, doesn’t it?). Everyone knows that the Catholic church owns billions of dollars worth of the most valuable property in the country. Was Jesus a property developer? I forget.

    • Avatar Michael FURTADO says:

      Nice one, John. After the victims of child abuse are compensated and the faithful have abandoned the pews (and plate!) en masse, I’m very sure that all that’s left in the kitty will be precisely the said real estate to which you rightly allude, much of it currently up for sale. You might also note that only about 5 per cent of those who attend Catholic schools attend Mass, and that between 40-50 percent of Catholic school students are non-Catholic. Yes; its passing strange!

  6. Avatar Gavin O'Brien says:

    Correction; “Secularism” should have read “sectarianism” in second paragraph.

    • Avatar Michael FURTADO says:

      Thanks, Gavin. Andrew Shellshear made the same slip-up.

      Your background is very similar to mine. A product of the radical Sixties, I arrived in Australia in the late Seventies, having taught in Catholic Local Authority schools in England and Scotland.

      Thanks for filling in some gaps for people new to this sorry and ongoing saga. The Goulburn ‘Strike’ was pivotal in Catholic schools, then educating a quarter of the population, many of them free-of-charge, accessing Commonwealth funding. Menzies used Section 96 to access tied grants to non-government schools, most of them non-Catholic. This was a clever ruse because it effectively ensured that DLP second preferences rewarded the Coalition Parties over Labor for doing this. Whitlam, it was, who healed the rift! And the High Court case, brought by the Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) lobby, challenging the authority of the Commonwealth to fund religious schools, was defeated by the majority decision of the Court stating that the Catholic school was not a ‘Church.’

      Things are looking up at last! Now a section of the AEU is beginning to understand that state-aid to wealthy private schools cannot end until the Catholic schools question, sorted out in every European and Canadian polity in the C19th (and more recently in NZ), is resolved. What a pity its taken more than a century to begin to heal this rift in Australia!

  7. Avatar Gavin O'Brien says:

    Micheal,
    I taught in the U.K a decade ago. All schools , Catholic, Anglican or state are all funded by the Government through the local County education authority. Parents do not pay fees or any other charges, schools funding is from levies in the County rates which all households pay.
    The problem in Australia goes back to pre Federation . At various times the Colonies paid for all schools, Catholic , private or public.Virulent secularism meant that public funding to non government schools ceased .This continued after Federation . The religious nuns and brothers and priests, brought mainly from Ireland filled in the gap. Catholic families were required by the Bishops to send their children to Catholic schools.Poor Catholic families could not afford paying the fees needed to run the schools. I recall the Goulburn schools strike .Then P.M. Menzies gave grants to Catholic education to build science laboratories. Political expediency by conservative Federal governments in the 1960’s led to the current system where the States/Territories run public schools, Federal funding keeps non government schools afloat. With no ‘free labour’ from religious orders with the decline in vocations , non government and Catholic schools have huge salary bills to meet. Non government education is now ransom to political whims !

  8. Avatar Chris Curtis says:

    The funding of non-government providers of public goods is standard and uncontroversial practice in fields other than schools throughout Australia; e.g., private doctors via Medicare, private pharmacists via the PBS, private childcare centres via the childcare allowance and private bus companies via MYKI. Even non-government-run kindergartens like one of the two in my town are publicly funded with not a word of criticism. The problem in Australia is not the fact of funding, but, as Michael Furtado so comprehensively demonstrates, the method.

  9. Avatar Chris Curtis says:

    Andrew Shellshear,

    The funding of non-government schools is standard practice throughout the OECD. The following countries that rank more highly than Australia on PISA reading fund non-government schools more generously than Australia does:
    Finland $US9,266 per student,
    Korea $US6,241,
    Sweden $US9,902.
    The following countries that rank more highly than Australia on PISA maths fund non-government schools more generously that Australia does:
    Korea $US6,241,
    Denmark $US12,012,
    Belgium $US9,773,
    Finland $US9,266,
    Sweden $US9,902,
    Norway $US12,155,
    Austria $US7,373.
    By contrast, Australia spends only $ $US6,137 per student in a non-government school (OECD Education at a Glance 2015, Table B3.3).

    • Avatar David Zyngier says:

      Chris you know full well that in Finland if private schools charge fees they receive NO government funding. There are only 3% of children attending private schools in Finland mainly in expat International schools. “private schools” in Finland are those which are not run by the municipality you pay taxes to, but by different local non-profit foundations or organizations.

      • Avatar Chris Curtis says:

        David,

        I don’t know that at all. My understanding is that non-government schools in Finland are not allowed to charge fees, so all are fully funded. I don’t think the percentage of students attending non-government schools is relevant to the principle of funding, but OECD figures are different from yours: 2 per cent of Finland’s primary students attend non-government schools, as do 5 per cent of lower secondary students and 19 per cent of upper secondary students (OECD Education at a Glance 2015, Table C1.4a). Education at a Glance no longer publishes this information, so the figures could have changed.

  10. Avatar Ian Teese says:

    Michael, I am confused. My understanding is that Australia is a sectarian country. This should mean that no private schools have an automatic right to funding. Let’s go back to the origins of the state aid arguments. What is the proportion households nominating themselves as Roman Catholic compared to the mid 1960’s. The proportion has fallen from 26.6 % at 2001 to 22.6 % in 2016 (Wikipedia)

    We have a crazy system which has led to Australia has one of the highest proportion of students in private schools in the developed world. This is driven by LNP / IPA policies which want to get the proportion to 50 % so a voucher system for all students can be justified, further disadvantaging the public sector (where would this leave your sector?). Also there is a hope (knowledge?) that adults who have a private school education may be more likely to vote conservative.

    Why should catholic and other private schools be able to obtain capital funding for any new school from the Feds while the public system has to obtain its capital expenditure from the state budgets. There is a strange case currently at Phillip Island where 4-5 families with the support of the local parish have been able to start and build their own catholic school even though there is a state primary school without capacity constraints within 500 m and another independent school which has been totally rebuilt with first class facilities 5 km the other way. An unnecessary waste of money.

    When the catholic school system addresses specific community needs, particularly of poorer households and does not allow the other independent schools to ride on its coat tails to obtain even more of the education cake, I may be more sympathetic to the Catholic education case.

    Malcolm Turnball made the correct call.

    • Avatar Michael FURTADO says:

      Thanks, Ian. Australia is a secular country: its in our Constitution! Secularism has indeed been the saviour for Catholics in a formerly WASP English-speaking world. My argument is about paradox, not contradiction!

      As for secularism, there’s that of the pluralistic socially-liberal and democratic kind and there’s another, shrill and, in these days, somewhat antiquated C19th Nietzschean variety: atheistic (as opposed to agnostic, which most Australians are, including some Catholics), anti-Catholic and still locked into a calvinist, illiberal, static, and, with respect, uneducated view of Catholics and their Church.

      Re. your second paragraph: while there are conservative Catholics (the consequence of embourgeoisement) the ALP is full of Catholics. My kids attended the same school as Wayne Swan’s. I abhor the voucher-system, as does the ALP, and both Catholic Church teaching and its view of the human person (as cited in my article) dismiss the individual choice/market economy philosophy that many conservatives applaud.

      I checked the SES stats for Phillip Is, which are slightly below the Australian average. Your best line of argument with the Parish Priest is to ask him how his proposed Catholic school would conform to the Church’s teaching. By this I mean: how many fee-free kids would he enrol, how many non-Catholics (because a Catholic school isn’t the same as a school for Catholics) etc.

      I share your concerns about the situation on Phillip Is, but its driven by a funding system that both you and I oppose. Catholic schools universally predate the important and valuable role that public education plays, but cannot be eclipsed because they offer a ‘public’ education alternative to the often highly aggregated and sometimes wishy-washy-supposedly-socially-liberal-but-in-many-respects-high-constrained ethos of government schools.

  11. Avatar Michael FURTADO says:

    Its kind of Andrew Shellshear to read my article, as well as, presumably, the other ones on this topic to which I allude that have been published on the P&I platform. If he had done so more attentively, he would have realised that Catholic schools almost universally in the developed world are part of the public sector provision of schooling. Forcing them out, as we did in this country at the time of Federation has eventuated in Australia having the largest publicly-funded private school sector in the OECD. Go figure, Andrew. And when you have, please return and post a more thoughtful and policy-literate reply. Thanks.

  12. Avatar Andrew Shellshear says:

    This problem is easily fixed, No govt. funding for non govt. schools.

  13. Avatar Andrew Shellshear says:

    I thought that catholic educators were given a lump sum and then it is up to them to distribute the funds amongst their schools. The disparity in fees is their fault. Non govt schools should get nothing. It is an inquitious system leading to poor outcomes overall. It is telling that the best education systems in the world do not fund non govt. schools in fact they do not have any.

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