A month ago we wrote to major media outlets asking them to commit to telling the truth about school funding.
The catalyst was an article in the first week of the election campaing, ‘The education revolution that you’ll keep paying for’. It was an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald by an established columnist and academic, somebody who really should have known better.
The problem is in this one sentence, published in the context of a Federal election campaign [hyperlink in original] –
“It is good to remind voters the federal government funds school education this way: $3,282 per government school student, $9,694 per Independent school student and $10,788 per Catholic school student.”
Of course, the statement is absolutely true, but it is only half of the story, and provides a totally misleading picture.
The same source linked to in that sentence also provides the data that shows that state governments fund school education this way: $12,238 per government school student, $2,499 per Independent school student and $2,828 per Catholic school student.
Some simple maths showing total per student funding by combining those two figures of –
- Government $15,520,
- Catholic $13,616,
- Independent $12,194.
The level of public funding of students being educated is non-government schools is certainly a matter for legitimate public debate, we don't shy away from that discussion.
Our concern is not having that discussion, but having it in the context of misleading information being repeated and consistently fed to the public.
The letter to key key media outlets called on them 'to take steps to ensure that across all of your published material Commonwealth government school funding will never be reported without inclusion of equivalent State/Territory government funding'. A fairly simple request really.
Following the letter we sent a Media Release to all the major metropolitan media outlets and to all of the journalists in the Federal Press Gallery.
The response? Beyond auto-replies there was no substantive response from any media outlet.
Is telling the truth, the whole truth really that hard?
We will be continuing to follow up with the media and seek these commitments - stay tuned!
Download Letter to Media Leaders