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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2509 ..

MR MOORE (1.41 am): In speaking to Division 180, Government Schooling, I start by noting the claim that there is no connection between improved educational resources and improved educational outcomes. That has often been used to justify both spending reductions and increased class sizes in government schools. In fact, Bill Wood, as Minister for Education, made that argument quite a number of times when he sought, with the support of his colleagues in the Labor Party, to cut 80 teachers out of the public education system. It has even been suggested by the Institute of Public Affairs that we could save $1.4 billion if all State education systems cut their resources to the level of those of the lowest-spending State, namely Queensland, and that cutting this amount from education programs would make no difference to student learning.

Unfortunately, certain economists have concluded that because they find it difficult to measure outputs of schooling these outputs do not exist. We have had, to a certain extent, a debate about that earlier. Perhaps they suffered from a very limited and rigid education themselves - perhaps the sort of limited and rigid education that is necessary with large classes. From certain economic studies that have failed to establish a relationship between inputs and outputs in schooling, it has been concluded that there is no relationship and that expenditure can be reduced without ill effects on student learning. This evidence is contradicted by a range of other studies which demonstrated that increased spending and especially smaller classes are associated with improved student learning.

If educational resources make no real difference to outcomes, it is remarkable that other nations spend as much on education as they do. If expenditure makes no difference, why do the governments of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Hungary all spend more of their GDP on school education than we do? Perhaps they do not subscribe to the theories of the Institute of Public Affairs. It seems doubly strange for economists to argue that in education there is no relationship between resource inputs and product outputs. In every other field of economic production, economists believe that there is a relationship between the raw materials and labour inputs, on the one hand, and production of goods or services, on the other.

There is more at stake here than academic error. If we get our educational resources wrong, we will undercut all our efforts. Far from being marginal to outcomes, educational resources are central to them. We know that resources alone will not guarantee high-quality education, but without improved resources little can be done to improve education at all. How can we provide every student with equitable access to information technology unless we pay for computers, information software and teacher training? How can our education system claim to be accessible and equitable if we do not provide adequately for those students with special needs? How can we expect our students to excel in their later years of schooling if we do not properly resource the early years, when their decoding skills are developing? We expect our community to be well educated and to gain, if possible, tertiary education. We must, then, properly resource our high schools and our colleges so that our youth have the best possible chance to

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