The report on government services was published yesterday, outlining the Productivity Commission's review of government spending on schools in Australia. Government school funding advocates will no doubt scour its 400 pages to find any combination of data to support their claims that non-government schools are "over-funded", Therese Themby, Chairwoman of the National Catholic Education Committee, writes in The Australian.
However, by failing to move beyond this old "us v them" paradigm, they are doing all Australian schoolchildren a disservice. The inconvenient truth for these advocates has been exposed with the publication of easily the most accurate and fair source in relation to school funding data: MySchool.
Catholic educators continue to be concerned with the narrow prism in which test results are portrayed on MySchool. However, the site has at least debunked many funding myths and finally demonstrates that Catholic schools in Australia operate, on average, with 10 per cent fewer resources than those available to government schools.
Since March last year, the MySchool website has reported the funds each school in Australia regularly receives from both state and federal governments, fees, charges and other parental contributions.
Capital expenditure has also been reported.In considering recurrent government funding and parent contributions, the comparison between government and Catholic students could not be more telling. On average, government schools are funded at about $11,130 per student, while Catholic schools are funded at just over $10,000.
The "us and them" debate is turned on its head when Catholic schools continue to deliver strong results for their students, while resourced at 10 per cent less than the government schools.
Critics of Catholic schools might argue that parents should make up that shortfall, but this would be contrary to our commitment to support families from all backgrounds by keeping our tuition fees at modest levels.
Indeed, by making a choice about their children's education - a choice that Julia Gillard says she supports - many Catholic parents are stretching their tight budgets. The consequent savings to government are a huge bonus to the Australian taxpayer.
FULL STORY End the Us vs Them on Catholic education (Australian)