Alan Buchbach for Dickson
Alan seeks to change the way education is funded. The current top-down approach to funding the department of education sees substantial waste and declining educational outcomes.
When you go to the polls, please remember the three highlighted numbers. The waste that led to these numbers is bipartisan.
In 2021-22 the funding for education in Queensland totalled $15.3 billion. 20% of education funding is provided by the QLD government, 80% by the Commonwealth government. Funding from the GST is included in the state portion. Divided among the 578,000 students this funding is approximately $26,470 / student. This is the funding which goes into the Departments of Education (DOE).
But what comes out of the DOE to provide educational services is at most only $14,766 per student for public schools, down to $12,672 for parochial schools and $10,776 for private schools.
All teachers’ salaries, school building maintenance and expansion, electricity and other utilities, gym and other equipment, science and computer labs, music programs etc, in essence all educational services come out of this allocation of per student funding.
This means there is more than $10,000 in overhead per student spent on non-educational services in the current funding model.
Where does it go? The QLD DOE boasts more than 80,000 employees on Seek and other platforms. However, they claim only 54,000 of these are teachers. This means there is roughly 1 non-teaching bureaucrat for every 2 teachers, not including our share of commonwealth bureaucrats. If teachers are expected to manage class sizes of 28, why can’t the bureaucrats do the same?
It is worth noting two things here. First, while 28 is the DOE target for class sizes, this number is exceeded often due lack of teaching staff. A lack most often falsely attributed to insufficient funding. Second, that when you talk to teachers, they will tell you the hardest and worst part of their job is not in the class room, nor is it dealing with parents nor is it planning lessons from the curriculum. The worst part is dealing with the DOE.
Now, this highlights the problem. But how do we fix it?
Whether we love it or hate it, the Commonwealth government has invested a lot over the past 2 years in developing “My.gov.au” to administer covid and flood relief payments. This existing infrastructure could be used to direct funding directly to the parents in the form of education vouchers on a per student basis instead of to the DOE where approximately half will be wasted.
These vouchers could be used for school fees; textbooks, electronic devices, and stationery; subscriptions to online learning tools; extra-curricular music, sports, and tutoring; any educational service. Including parents starting education co-ops between themselves as well as creating a space for Australian charter school programs.
In making this change, we could substantially increase the services provided to students, increasing parent choice whilst also reducing the cost to the taxpayer and still having billions left over for the necessary defence and infrastructure Australia needs.
Alan proposes to return half of this wasted overhead directly to the taxpayers and return the other half to general revenue for spending on necessary defence and other infrastructure, such as drought proofing the Darling Downs.
The budget savings from making this change from top-down to bottom-up would yield a rebate of $1000 per Australian adult annually as well as raising more than $50 billion for said defence and infrastructure programs.
As a point of reference, the Los Angeles class submarines cost an estimate $1.6b per sub to build brand-new in today's inflation adjusted dollars. $20 billion should be more than sufficient to purchase the entire outgoing fleet of LAC subs still in commission from the USA, especially since they plan to scrap 2-4 per year until the entire fleet is decommissioned by 2030.