The Australian (conservative) government has finally embraced the Gonski school funding reforms. For those outside Australia, ‘Gonski’ (named after David Gonski who lead the review) is a ‘needs based funding model’ where schools with low socio-economics student cohorts receive more funding than comparative schools with a cohort of higher socio-economic students. Gonski was originally implemented by the previous Labor government and has proven to be extremely popular with the electorate. Even though up to 30% of students in some states (for example Victoria) attend private schools.
Australia has a ‘universal voucher’ system where funding is on a per student basis out of national taxes. Via state governments for public schools and directly for private schools. Consequently, private schools in Australia are partly funded by the government plus additional fees paid by parents.
It is interesting given Australia’s flexibility in school choice – mixing public and private education – that there is very strong support for a funding model that re-balances natural inequities within an education system due differences in wealth. In contrast to the USA where electoral support for a progressive funding model for education seems to be lacking. The difference between Australia and the USA may have something to do with the social preferences of parents.