Typography

After months of development our Education Policy has been released. Australia's education ranking has gone from world leading to 14th in my lifetime. We propose a new era in education, providing freedom of choice, innovation and inclusiveness for all Australians. Government bureaucracy and centralised control will be replaced with vouchers issued directly to parents and older students. Vouchers cover free education from Infants to University and TAFE.

Policy Summary

  • Australia's education ranking has gone from world leading to 14th in my lifetime;
  • We propose a new era in education, providing freedom of choice, innovation and inclusiveness for all Australians;
  • Government bureaucracy and centralised control replaced with vouchers issued directly to parents and older students;
  • Vouchers cover free education from Infants to University and TAFE;
  • Federal Department of Education abolished along with NAPLAN and Common Core;
  • State Departments downsized and with limited duties;
  • Power over curriculum and teaching materials returned to headmasters;
  • The four year School Certificate arc broken with a Junior Certificate at Year 8 to create two x 2 year arcs to facilitate course and school flexibility;
  • HECS and VE system abolished as it will not be necessary, existing debts wiped;
  • Vocational Education and Apprenticeships strengthened and properly funded;
  • Overall cost is less than we are spending now.

Introduction

I had the honour of spending my formative years at a school run by a visionary educator by the name of Mr Sponberg at Gymea Bay Public School. He dedicated his life to encouraging his charges to think, to explore, to question. He produced a Rhodes Scholar, international diplomat, Lion award winning producer, lawyers, doctors and millionaires. And that was just in my class!

Why? Because he taught us how to think, not what to think. We did the rest.

He would take a whip to this disgrace that education has become. In this modern era we have turned education around, demonising individual thought and action, and praising mindless conformity to the groupthink agenda. We are not educating we are indoctrinating and medicating anyone that cannot or will not submit. This is why we have fallen so far in international comparisons.

In part this is being done through a national curriculum that controls education from the top down and is characterised by leftist dogma over all else.

At the Liberty Campaign we believe that the only way to restore literacy, numeracy and critical thinking to education is by returning control to the parents and older students directly.

Vouchers

Our voucher system leverages the newly merged Medicare/Centrelink computer system. This system has records for all Australian families. In the USA the Social Security database works the same way.

So every year a parent, or child over 18 directly, will receive a voucher by mail or email. This voucher will be redeemable at any educational institution registered to provide education. The voucher will be collected by the school and then redeemed at face value directly from the Federal Treasury. 

Vouchers will be automatically issued to kids in full time study every year. Adults will need to visit or register online at Medicare/Centrelink and apply for their voucher, which for adults can be used once even at any age. This encourages those who had a bad start to claim a voucher and start their education. It also supports new Australians who may not have received an education, or who are transitioning language or skills. We expect schools to open that specialise in specific groups of students like these.

Vouchers will be available for part time study, including Technical College and Universities.

Note that we spent $84 billion of taxpayer's money on education in 2015:

  • $47 billion for Infants, Primary and High School, including NEC (Special Needs) and free bus passes.
  • $31 billion on Universities
  • $6 billion on Vocational Education - VE/TAFE;

Restoring Opportunity and Inclusion

A parent is free to enrol in any school that they wish. All geographic restrictions will be lifted. Private schools will be allowed to restrict access as they wish, and selective sports high schools can maintain sporting criteria. In fact we encourage that. It is our expectation that schools will move to a specialised model, with some schools specialising in media, music, maths, science, sport and so on. 

We also expect schools will start teaching boys again by offering English instruction via phonics, rather than 'whole of word". These 2 very basic approaches to teaching English are at the heart of the degradation in the educational achievement of boys. Phonics suits 80% of boys brains and 20% of girls brains. Whole of Word is the opposite - 80% of girls and 20% of boys. By teaching all students using Whole of Word we are screwing half our students. It is a sad indictment on femininism that they would happily throw 1 in 5 girls under a bus just so they can also throw 4 in 5 boys right under there with them.

Schools will be free to teach whichever or both approaches as they see fit, and depending on their target student enrolment.

Empowering the Classroom

Headmasters are now accountable for their results so we cannot have bureaucrats telling them what to do, because those bureaucrats are not accountable. So we would abolish the Federal Education Department entirely and dismantle most of the State Departments. Freedom of choice and freedom of movement are your oversight. Administration support is not the issue it was when our system started - accounting packages are out there to run schools with, we do not need bureaucrats to do that. 

Removing indoctrination from education and allowing Headmasters to choose their subjects and coursework will create a wonderful range of new choices for children. Choices can be matched to the economic and social character of the area the school services. 

Standardised Testing

Grading tests will continue. In Australia this is the School Certificate at year 10 and the Higher School Certificate at year 12. These will be returned to exam-only. The whole idea is to force students through a process of planning, studying, testing and stressing. In doing this schools are fulfilling a prime directive - to educate children for what life is going to be like, rather than hiding them from that and leaving them ill-equipped for the real world.

NAPLAN will be abolished as it duplicates these test-based Certificates.

We will be breaking high school at year 8, and creating a mini School Certificate at that level. This will create 2-year arcs for subjects rather than a single 4-year arc. That gives students a reset opportunity either of subjects or school, and offer a broad check on advancement by way of a Junior Certificate, so child and parent know how they are going in a wider context.

Certification

The State Education Department will audit new schools against a broad range of criteria before authorising them to join the system. We would allow the Government to audit schools after the initial approval based on exceptions - poor exam results, high turnover or complaints from parents or students. If a school is successful it does not need the Government getting in the way.

Private Schools & fees

Private schools will be encouraged. We do expect some of the tutoring companies opening shopfronts around the country to move into schools.  Pre-school operators can move into infants and primary school education, especially in rural and regional areas. This should expand educational opportunities especially with isolated and Aboriginal communities.

Private Schools will be able to charge whatever they like, as they do now. We would expect that most will accept the voucher as full payment, removing the additional expense of school fees. This is about reducing the cost of education to government, it is not about increasing the cost of education to parents. We are using competition and the efficiency that it breeds to reduce per unit cost. Now if this does not happen and costs rise for parents then we will review the system. For this reason there should be no talk of selling off State owned schools in the initial period - such a thing must require an election mandate.

Our voucher system is designed to eliminate any parent co-payment or school fees, payable to government schools. These are more rightly called "bureaucrat subsidies" not school fees.

Religious Schools

The idea that we can prevent a child being indoctrinated in one religion or another by forbidding religious schools is a nonsense. Kids will get that exposure at home, after hours and on weekends. So we would accept the reality that some parents will want to send their kids to a religious school and allow religious bodies to open schools. Remember there are required subjects, and failure to achieve in standardised testing will alert inspectors that the school is misbehaving.

Preaching sedition will of course remain a crime. That law should be used as a blunt instrument against religious fanatacism everywhere, including schools. Any school found to be teaching sedition will be deregistered and officers prosecuted.

Programs like the Chaplains program are inconsistent with a deregulated education environment. However individual schools are free to make these decisions and parents are free to place their kids where those decisions are compatible with their beliefs.

Core Subjects

Some standardisation is necessary to prevent schools going off the deep end in any one area. At least in the initial period. These will be as follows. Maths and English will be taught linearly, science will have some of everything, with the complexity building year on year:

  • English - hand writing, spelling, reading skills, oral skills, grammar and core literature;
  • Maths - old fashioned number tables, hand multiplication and division, statistics, calculus, mathematical models;
  • Science - geography, astronomy, environmental studies, chemistry, physics, computing;
  • Civics - our system of government, laws, philanthropy, religion and philosophy.

These subjects will be tested at Years 8, 10 and 12. Major fails will cause an audit, but we hope a mass desertion of students. The free market should fix schools, not government intervention.

Free University

University education is the great social leveller. Our economic growth during the 80s and 90s was not fuelled by Hawke & Keating's economic reforms - those only enriched the elite and stripped average Australians of their future. It was driven by Gough Whitlam's free university degrees from 1972. Free education represents the most efficient use of labour - each according to their ability and application, not their parent's wealth. A system that produces a workforce with an optimum education and then hands them over to a free economy is a recipe for social and economic success. Whitlam proved that. Libertarians need to get their heads around that. Successive Liberal and Labour PMs that are nothing but lapdogs for the globalist elite have dismantled the work that Whitlam did because they realise how disruptive free tertiary education is to their control of society. 

So, the reduction in costs our voucher system will bring can be used to cover the cost of free university. Vouchers will be issued on request for first bachelors degrees to Australian citizens. If you are a permanent resident but not an Australian citizen you do not qualify.

HECS: Higher Education Contribution Scheme (In USA called Student Loans) are now not necessary, the system will be terminated. Private funding may spring up to cover higher and subsequent degrees, that is for the free market. Existing HECS debt worth around $54 billion will be phased out using a post-subsidy system. Students will be allowed to pay out their existing debt, with the Government forgiving 5 dollars for every 1 dollar paid. More on the transition plans in our Tertiary Education supplemntary, due late rthi syear.

Abolishing HECS debt is important to stimulate the economy and counterbalance the effect of eliminating such a large number of Public Service cut backs.  

Cost: Universities cost the taxpayer $23 billion last year. Students themselves paid another $5 billion in HECS. Students themselves paid an additional $5 billion directly, so student contributions were $10 billion ,of which only $7 billion were for bachelor's degrees. To provide free University DegreesOur Liberty Education Plan will produce cost efficiencies in Universities and ensure free University education is an option for all Australians.

This is a graph of total spending on Education. Tertiary Education spending has grown rapidly. Removing the caps on the number of places has led to a large increase in cost, and we must ask if this is justified. Liberty Campaign are working on a secondary paper on Tertiary Education that will address this issue. This paper will also include UNversity researach, which is costing the Federal Government $10 billion per annum.

education spending

Home Schooling

Home schooling is becoming popular these days given the poor standard of education and the socialist indoctrination that masquerades as education.  We acknowledge this trend however our policy is designed to get kids back into quality school based education. Vouchers will be able to be redeemed for home schooling WHERE the parent holds a recognised teaching qualification.

Attendance by home schooled children at the year 8, 10 and 12 standardised testing is required to maintain home schooling status. This also gives the child a standard grading that employers will be looking for in their employment system, or in university acceptance. 

Corporate Sponsorship

Would we let McDonalds put an outlet in every high school? Well that would be up to the Principal. And the parents. This is not a government decision. If our elected leaders pass the TPP we will not actually be able to stop them anyway.

Corporatised Education

In time all schools will be private. At some point, once the system is implemented and tested for success we can corporatise education. Sell the schools - buildings, land and contents into a new corporate entity, vest the shares with the Future Fund for all Australians to retain ownership (Note that part please, not selling it to Microsoft or McDonalds) and run those schools at a profit. Allow a minority of shares to be sold in the stockmarket. Profit motive will produce efficiency and reduce costs. In a world where those schools compete for students with private and church schools, quality of education will be sustained at the minimum possible cost.

How it works

Infants, Primary and High School (full time for short) will be issued as so much for one year's education. Schools are free to play with what is a year, extending or shortening the year if their education regimen is effective, or replaces classrooms in part with trips, or blends classroom with self-learning. It may be that a school in a dormitory suburb will find a 48 week year, from 9 until 5 more useful to 2 working parents, combining school with activities and projects. Rural schools may find longer hours in summer and shorter hours in winter more in keeping with their parent's regimen. The whole idea of vouchers is to unleash new ideas.

Technical College and University (part time for short) will be issued as so much for one hour's education, with limits on hours per annum corresponding to common courses and degrees. This is simply because this type of education is based on so many hours to complete the course. 

Grading Some degrees are more expensive to teach than others. Some aspects of teaching are more expensive than others, especially new Australians who have to cover more ground than other students to catch up. Rural schools have fewer students so less revenue coming in, balanced by costs in the country being lower than the city. So we are allowing 2 grades in full time fees, and 5 grades in part time.

Variety We would hope schools would be started by stakeholders. An example would be Aboriginal groups creating schools that would blend academic excellence with appreciation for Aboriginal Culture and provide a conduit to link elders with young aboriginals that have become alienated from their culture and as a result, lacking in self-respect and direction.

Quotas Schools can set a student number limit on the 1st December (Universities and VE 1st September) for enrolments the following year and are able to turn students away above that limit. Clearly this is based on classroom space and teacher numbers. The quota is subject to a 5% variance.

Contingency All vouchers have a 5% contingency allowance in their face value. This means that if a student leaves or heaven forbid passes away, the school keeps the money. If they move to a new school that new school teaches them for free. Limit 5% of voucher revenue. As losses should equal gains it is unlikely any single school will run over 5%. 

TAFE/VET

TAFE (technical colleges) now known as Vocational Education costs around $9 billion a year across all Government. Many private colleges have opened up and many are scams. The reason this is happening is because TAFE fees are so high that private can now make themselves a more attractive option, even if it is sometimes through high pressure and incentives. Private colleges are funded/subsidised by the Government so you have bureaucrats in Canberra with no clue about what a college in Gosford is or is not doing. As long as the paperwork is straight they get their money. Outcomes do not matter. They can enrol students under false pretences, get their subsidy, churn the student, rinse and repeat. 

Under our voucher system the student has the power. If they are ripped off they can complain and have the college audited directly. They can take their voucher elsewhere. As a result private colleges' profit will depend on student retention, which means actually teaching them something. Enrolments will come down to which college has the best reputation, perhaps has forged links with industry to provide employment on graduation or runs their own hairdresser to provide real world skilling and so on. In any event the power shifts to the student where it should be.

The VE loans system will be abolished as courses will be free, existing loans will be cancelled. That is not saying much, 40% of VE loans are never going to be repaid anyway.

Early Education

We cover this under Children & Family policy.

Private -vs- Public

The argument about private versus public eduction is moot under out mdel. All parents receive the same voucher, they can redeem that voucher in either a Government or non-Government school. If that private school wants to charge over and above the voucher to provide a higher level experience, or to add perceived value to a brand, then they can. 

Conclusion

Our Education policy will create a fairer system that rewards actual educators, and creates the best possible outcome for all students, irrespective of their income or start in life. This is a recipe to grow the economy and restore economic prosperity and opportunity for all Australians. 

Preliminary Value

So here is what we have calculated. It is produced to give a starting point to the discussion on how much these should be worth, not a final recommendation.

Infants & Primary

A: $10,000 p.a.

B: $11,000 p.a.

High School

A: $11,000 p.a.

B: $12,000 p.a.

Tafe and University

A: $30 p.h.

B: $40 p.h

C: $50 p.h.

D: $60 p.h.

E: $70 p.h.

Quick check (kids): number of students in full time study is 3,750,973. At an average of $11000, cost to taxpayers of our scheme is $42 billion. 20% goes back to the State Dept of Education for oversight and the remainder goes to classroom expenses, including Teacher salaries.

Quick check (University): number of Australian students at University is 600,000. Current full time education spending is $23 billion, with $8 billion apportioned to higher degrees, and $15 billion the cost of first degrees, plus the $7 billion in student fees = $23 billion. A rough cost then is (480,000/$23 billion = $48,000 pa) So a voucher system will put more money into the Lecture Hall - $35,000 per student (the hourly rates above averaged across a typical degree). Our total cost is $17 billion p.a. 

References

Check our Education pages for articles in support of this policy.

Also this detailed data on university funding and this article on the mess TAFE has become.

Current expenditure

GOVERNMENT OPERATING EXPENSES ON EDUCATION, By Level of Government

  2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
  $m $m $m $m $m $m

Commonwealth Government 35 709 33 794 28 728 29 334 30 049 31 375
State and local governments 49 117 49 958 51 017 52 695 54 507 56 191
Multi-jurisdictional (a) 18 515 19 976 21 302 22 941 23 628 25 607
Less: Intra-sector transfers 31 854 28 052 25 188 25 465 26 643 28 604
All levels of government 71 486 75 677 75 859 79 506 81 540 84 570

(a) The multi-jurisdictional sector contains units where jurisdiction is shared between two or more governments, or the classification of a unit to a jurisdiction is otherwise unclear. For education the only type of units falling into this category are public universities.
GOVERNMENT OPERATING EXPENSES ON EDUCATION, By Purpose, All Levels of Government

  2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
  $m $m $m $m $m $m

Primary and secondary education 39 101 40 166 38 736 40 645 41 785 43 270
Tertiary education 24 215 26 195 27 446 29 015 29 326 30 624
Pre-school & education not definable by level 3 089 3 325 4 216 4 454 4 786 5 091
Transportation of students 1 352 1 381 1 401 1 354 1 547 1 575
Education n.e.c.(special ed) 3 729 4 610 4 060 4 036 4 097 4 010
Total by purpose 71 486 75 677 75 859 79 506 81 540 84 570


GOVERNMENT OPERATING EXPENSES ON EDUCATION, By Economic Transaction, All Levels of Government

  2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
  $m $m $m $m $m $m

Employee expenses 35 050 37 233 39 131 41 009 41 848 43 306
Non-employee expenses 15 811 16 305 17 544 18 131 18 679 19 350
Depreciation of fixed assets 2 657 2 892 3 233 3 523 3 668 3 815
Current transfer expenses 15 573 16 992 15 592 16 395 16 867 17 847
Capital transfer expenses 2 396 2 255 359 447 478 251
Total by economic transactions 71 486 75 677 75 859 79 506 81 540 84 570


Operating expenditure on education by all levels of general government increased by $3,030m (3.7%), from $81,540m in 2013-14 to $84,570m in 2014-15. Total expenditure on education by the Commonwealth Government was $31,375m, with expenditure by the state and local governments totalling $56,191m. Intra-sector transfers were $28,604m.

The Federal Department of Education costs $2 billion to run, and there is another $500 million in grants that will be replaced with vouchers.

Of the total operating expenditure on education in 2014-15, $43,270m (51.2%) was spent on primary and secondary education and $30,624m (36.2%) on tertiary education (universities and TAFEs). Employee expenses of $43,306m accounted for 51.2% of total educational expenses with the remaining 48.8% being on non-employee expenses ($19,350m), depreciation ($3,815m), and transfer expenses ($18,098m).

Source: ABS: 5518.0.55.001.

Number of Students

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of students enrolled in schools in Australia grew by 56,872 (1.5%) to a total of 3,750,973.

ABS 4221.0

 COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How can you have a common test without a common curriculum?

Crowd source it. Companies selling coursework will submit that to the Department, who will draw the questions from those. In short the questions will be drawn from the coursework, the coursework will not be drawn from questions set to push an agenda. Bottom up not top down.

Also consider that over time the coursework itself will evolve to match the demand from headmasters for coursework that matches the needs of their students.

Students will be quizzed on how well they know their own coursework.

You are still not getting it, who sets the minimum requirements?

Headmasters. Each year we will ask Headmasters to critique the Junior, School and Higher School Certificates once exam results are finalised. That allows for the production of a score for each question and for the topic from which it is drawn. We will ask for feedback on the questions themselves and on the topics chosen as core. This produces the guidance for curriculum & coursework for the next year.

In turn the Headmasters will be well aware of the needs of their students, their region and their parents and should guide the department accordingly.

That will take thousands of bureaucrats

No just a website, a wiki and a few dozen administrators. Followed by a Ministerial review. Remember however we are allowing $2.45 billion @ $1000 per student for exactly this sort of oversight. That should cover it.

Who pays for the coursework?

Companies wanting to develop coursework can finance that themselves, like any other business. The incentive is selling that to schools @ $300 per student per annum or thereabouts. That makes the market for coursework worth $750 million a year. Well worth an investment, I look forward to real teachers stepping forward to create some amazing new stuff.

I would be concerned about charging to review new coursework, it opens the door to crony capitalism with only MegaCorps able to pay for vetting. Vetting is actually simple, since the process is to check the coursework against the core topics and give it a yes or no. Actual teaching methods, specific wording that may be intricately crafted now to convey an agenda ceases to be relevant. If it does not work Headmasters will not use it. 

How are parents supposed to know which school is best?

Free market has that sorted. Yelp, WOMO, Yellow Pages & Google+ all have finely tuned ratings and review systems that are almost impossible to game.

I would think someone would build a site listing each school and embedding Yelp, Yellow Pages, G+ and WOMO ratings boxes to each page to allow for reviews. Those would link back to pages on those sites for each school. I am sure those sites will do a "school package" for a few hundred a year to improve school visibility so parents are aware of the choices they have. Great place to hold advertising BTW.

Facebook and Twitter work as well, but there is more capacity for mischief there and they censor what they do not like so it is not an impartial source of feedback.

I chose the wrong school for my child what do I do?

Take the process more seriously next time.

Remember to rate and review so others do not make your mistake.

If it is really bad report them, that is what the inspectorate is for.  Average teaching is likely especially in the initial period as we carry over from the current state system. However bad teaching should be reported and fixed. Over time people like you complaining and rating will provide a better outcome. 

Can the Government give me a new voucher?

No. If the school sucks then that is handled by an inspection and corrective action. Do not rely on the State to babysit your kids, GET INVOLVED!

What happens when my parents get a transfer?

A visit to Centrelink, fill out a transfer form, move to the new school. Old school keeps the voucher money, new school teaches for free. If new school is full they have to take you if that school is nearest to you, but with that 5% contingency limit. That means you will always have an option within reach, although it may not be ideal or the closest. Just like now really.

What if schools have their books closed permanently?

Why would they, free enterprise says they will close when they are full, then build new classrooms, hire new teachers and then increase their quota. Leaving money on the table is unlikely to happen.

Also I guess that is what Members of Parliament are for, to make sure things are working in their electorate. At these prices a new school will always open to fill the need. 

What parents I live on the streets

Here is what I see in my head. If you look at the costings above I do think the Refuge movement will do well out of this. Most Refuges help 5 - 6 kids at a time and have one social worker on staff. Now they can afford a social worker and a teacher. Go stay at a refuge. I know there are not many around, I think this will help that situation a lot.

It adds $12,000 per child to their income conditional on the Refuge being structured to hold a minimum probably 6 kids and offer a functional classroom. Interesting teaching gig though. The number of vouchers it can collect should be based on beds, not actual kids, as they will arrive, adjust and then be placed. Having said that it may help provide better support by being able to afford to keep kids longer and turn their lives around further before being spat back out into the system. 

Your plan seems to save $25 billion a year. really?

Yes I agree that sounds too easy. Can you see where the numbers are wrong? We do not think they are. In any event that does give us a rather large margin for error doesn't it?

 

Additional references

Expenditure on Education 2015

Education Spending ABS

 

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