School autonomy - sorting myth from fact

More autonomy for schools is an education policy being championed by both Labor and the Coalition in the lead-up to the federal election. But does it result in a better education system?

In an extended election piece for The Age, education editor Jewel Topsfield takes a look at increased school autonomy. In doing so, she draws on an analytical piece I wrote on independent public schools published on Election Watch, in which I reassured folks on twitter that the Coalition is not planning to privatise public schools but rather grant them extra autonomy. I also explain that increased school autonomy, while controversial, has been on reform agenda since the Whitlam government days and all states have introduced elements of it to varying degrees. Topsfield's piece also refers to the Grattan Institute's recent and excellent report The myth of markets in school education. Interestingly, a fact she cites from this report - that the Kennett government devolved 93 per cent of Victoria's school education budget to individual public schools (on page 25 if you're interested) contains a footnote linking to my earlier research on these 'Schools of the Future' reforms and their ongoing relevance! (NB Once you click this link on Election Watch you'll need to scroll down a page or so to read my material education policies.)

Malcolm Fraser launches my book!

The evening was a roaring success, with over 300 guests and wonderful speeches by  former PM Malcolm Fraser, Lindsay Tanner (Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation), James Merlino (Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs), Nick Kotsiras (Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs), George Lekakis (Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission), Sam Afra (ECCV Chairperson) and, of course, myself.

My book, Many Hopes One Dream, uncovers the untold story of Australian multiculturalism – how it was shaped from the ground up by grassroots associations of migrants and refugees.

Based entirely on original research, including interviews with key players and unexplored government, organisational and media archives, Many Hopes One Dream is the first comprehensive study of the united ethnic movement, concentrating on the history and influence of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria – the oldest federation of migrant, ethnic, refugee and multicultural associations in Australia.

It is a story of the birth, development and evolution of the united ethnic movement. The story of its trials and triumphs, and how, despite formidable obstacles, it was able to shape the reality and institutions of multicultural Australia. It is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing.

Buy your copy of the book here.  For a foretaste, read my guest column in MUSSE: Melbourne University Staff/Student E-news.

Want more?  Here’s Lindsay’s speech, James’s speech, my speech from the launch.

Unleashed opinion on Labor’s school empowerment policy

My contribution to the election policy debate was published on the ABC’s Drum Unleashed website.

I show that the Prime Minister’s proposal is a good one, giving schools around the country a taste of Victorian schools have had for almost a decade – the power to govern themselves.  I argue that the ability to innovate and transfer successful policies such as this is a virtue of federalism that we should enhance.

Live, national radio interview on my book this week!

I’ve been invited on SBS’s French radio program on Friday 11 September to discuss my new book: Many Hopes, One Dream: the Story of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria. Tune in at 11am to listen live or download the podcast here.

Don’t forget that ticket sales to book launch will close 11 September.  Don’t miss out! $38 gets you a seat at the formal, celebratory dinner with an impressive line up of speakers, including James Merlino, Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and George Lekakis, Victoria’s Multicultural Commissioner. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser will also be appearing. Call the ECCV on (03) 9349 4122 or email eccv@eccv.org.au More info here.