This post is the second in my ongoing exploration of the second Gonski Report. The first post is Through Growth to Achievement #Gonski Review 2.0
The ever insightful Dean Ashenden presents his analysis in Inside Story: An end to the industrial model of schooling? Ashenden writes that while the latest Gonski report points a way to the future of school reform, it has not broken with its disastrous past.
The panel was constrained by four realities. It was asked to “focus on practical measures that work,” an approach that, it turns out, it didn’t really agree with. Second, what no doubt looks to the minister to be a perfectly reasonable effort to ensure value for money may look to others like a velvet glove around Canberra’s financial fist. A third difficulty is that the report had to come up with an approach that could and would be implemented faithfully by each of Australia’s twenty-plus very different school jurisdictions. And, finally, the review was required to focus on school and classroom practice when most of the problems, including problems in practice, have their origins elsewhere.
In sum, the panel was asked to resolve two deep and ancient schisms in Australian schooling — the conflict between “conservative” and “progressive” educational approaches, and the conflict between the federal government and the states — while pinning down the notoriously elusive relationship between school funding, educational practice and academic outcomes — and to do it all with one hand tied behind its back, in eight or nine months.
This post is a part of a series being written for my EDUC6352 online masters students.
Historical background: School funding is a perennial policy problem and the original Gonski model (circa 2013) cemented Labor’s reputation for being the party concerned with education. Tony Abbott committed the Liberal party to matching Labor’s education plan dollar for dollar at the eleventh hour in the 2013 election. And, once the Liberal party won that election, they matched the funding for the first funding cycle but without committing the states (except for NSW who’d signed a deal with the outgoing Labor party) to the conditions of the Gonski plan (ie. needs based funding – the funds needs to be distributed according to a particular model that adds loadings to a base level according to levels of disadvantage).
In order to neutralise school funding as an election issue the Liberal party have introduced their own funding model, dubbed Gonski 2.0. Sensationalist media reporting (Private schools getting $6700 more per student than NSW public schools; Richest private schools get payments from $7m government ‘slush fund‘; Funds bias hurt Catholic schools) have made it hard to determine the differences (in effect rather than in dollar terms) between the original Gonski model and Gonski 2.0.
From what I can glean, however, in terms of realpolitik, Gonki 2.0 may have advantages. It enshrines an 80:20 funding arrangement in legislation, replacing previous ad hoc, opaque, confusing funding agreements. Here is some of the analysis available: Continue reading
The facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal raises some important questions about the use and security of user’s data, and the operating practices of such companies. The scandal is not so-much that there had been a “breach” but rather that users data had been shared as part of facebook’s business model. It is a model that relies value provided by the data that facebook’s users share. This data, it turns out, is not only of value to advertisers, but as it turns out, political analysts and campaign consultants.
Arguably, this situation has developed because facebook is a form of what’s been termed ‘platform capitalism’. [See Nick Srnicek’s Platform Capitalism for more information]
‘With a long decline in manufacturing profitability, capitalism has turned to data as one way to maintain economic growth and vitality in the face of a struggling production sector.’ (p6)
Platforms as data engines
This is where platforms come in. If data has become a massive new raw material for capitalism, then platforms are the engines that allow it to process this data
Given that such platforms need data as the basis of their product that they use to turn into a profit, techniques developed at places such as Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab are used to the develop and refine these platforms so that people enjoy sharing their data, photos, comments, ‘likes’, etc and receiving positive feedback. This “quantifiable social endorsement” (Sherman, et al, 2018) reinforces data-sharing behaviour, and increases the likelihood that people will continue to provide data to such platforms.
Like all many new technological developments, ethics seems to be the caboose on the end of the train, never able to get ahead and steer the developments powered by new scientific and technological discovery and exploration. Continue reading