Education policy setting us up for increased prison populations.

It seems strange that, in the one week, our State government both announces staffing cuts in Education and announces that they have to put more funds into education because the State Schools’ student numbers are increasing beyond forecast levels.  This is after an election where they claimed to have the budget under control and “fully funded” all their promises.  (No, I didn’t believe them, but many did.)

They have already cut the staff in the Personnel area so much that services are affected, and cut expert support so much that the experts have barely time to catch the phone calls let alone research answers, and yet they are cutting “non-frontline areas” further. In 1996 it was estimated that 20% of Western Australian school students were of non-English speaking backgrounds (http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/wa_file.pdf); personal observation says the percentage has increased. These students are particularly at risk, and (experience shows) likely to shift schools, but staffing policies are cutting the support and staffing flexibility the frontline workers need to deal with the range of students’ backgrounds. This is like the army destaffing the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps. (USA equiv: Quartermaster Corps)

They already have students in Years pp-2 who desperately need more one-on-one work, (What do you expect, when the electronic babysitters combine with non-english speaking background and with  toilet training falling out of fashion?) yet they are cutting Education Assistant numbers. They are setting the scene for increased imprisonment rates when those children – often those from disadvantaged backgrounds – reach their late teens. Many countries’ prison services have said (e.g. http://www.doc.nv.gov/sites/doc/files/pdf/education/Education_Services_Spring_2012_Newsletter.pdf) that teaching these children to read is vital. They are also setting the scene for more violent juvenile crime, as lower literacy is linked to antisocial aggressive behaviour.( Reading failure and juvenile delinquency. Hogenson, Dennis L. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1975-09851-001)

I am short-sighted, but I can see ahead more than ten years.  Pity the electorate doesn’t.

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