A sigh of relief swept through Australia on budget night when Prime Minister Trumble announced that he had discovered the solution to the mystery of why our educational standards had become stranded below those of Kazakhstan and only marginally ahead of those in the Cape Verde Islands. His brilliant solution was to bring into service the latest version of the gonski.True it was that the gonski had already been ‘rolled out’, as they put it in educational circles, and that billions of dollars had been spent in its name. It was also true that this vast increase in spending had produced no discernable improvement in standards, but quite the opposite. Moreover, the application of gonskian principles had shown that when class sizes were reduced and the teacher-student ratio changed to 5 teachers for every student, measurable standards had again plummeted, as each teacher became responsible for only one fifth of a pupil. It also emerged that certain countries like Bulgaria had improved their international ratings by reducing the money they spent on education and returning to outdated notions of teaching children to read, write and add up. On the other hand, as more balanced and objective educational observers had noted, the gonski had not really been given a fair trial and was more accurately described as a mere half gonski, somewhat akin to a half soy latte. It was therefore unfair to blame the fall in standards on the gonski itself, when we had not yet seen what a bigger and full strength gonski could achieve. In any event, despite the first gonski not being the full gonski, it had, even with its limited application, produced profound social changes that were undoubtedly worth building on for the future. It had delivered hope that more money would be spent on education even if it did not improve anything. As Hercule Lewis, the head of Spies R Us pointed out, there was absolutely no connection between being able to read and write and the ability to find a job. Moreover, the gonski had generated a bonding of community spirit that recognised its remarkable power for good, if only it were allowed full rein and was not constrained by outdated notions like producing results. Thus, teachers had appeared en masse with placards demanding ‘I do give a gonski’ and ‘Give us the full gonski.’ The English Teachers’ collective declared, with commendable eloquence, ‘We wont our gunski like now dude.’ Footballers joined in with locker room cries of ‘My gonski is bigger than yours’, drowning out the mean-spirited conservative chant ‘But mine goes further than yours and is better targetted.’ Investors rushed to subscribe to the first float of the gonski on the stock exchange as the virgin birth of a new currency that expanded in size to whatever you wanted it to be.
The gonski also encouraged a wider belief that the spending of government money was the answer to every problem, not only in education. Indeed, it seemed that you had only to mention the word gonski and its magical qualities came to the fore. The notion that the gonski could do no wrong and that it possessed such mystical powers of healing, soon took hold of the community with a motherly embrace. Only a reactionary group of psychologists posed the absurd question whether it might be the case that too much faith was being placed in spending money on a problem that required more thought and balance. One reactionary economic historian even asked whether the worship of untrammelled gonski posed the greatest threat to financial restraint since the South Sea Bubble. Fortunately, he was quickly removed from his position and his opinion dismissed by the Human Rights Commission, whose president pronounced: ‘Opinions have their place but also their limits. Anyway, the science is in and anyone who disagrees is a gonski denier.’ But a more robust defence came from that renowned statesman Denzil Andrews, premier of Victoria. He wisely observed that if it were true that more money and smaller classes were producing ignorant, unemployable students, this must be because they were bullied and enslaved in a stifling male-dominated hierarchy he was determined to end, but he needed more gonski money to do it. He also took the opportunity to extol the amazing results already produced by the gender fluidity, stranger danger, cross dressing program he had implemented in all schools. Why, he exclaimed, one boy had benefitted so much from this program, which had been funded by old half-gonski money, that he had started his own airline, changed his name to Joyce and was issuing turquoise rings to passengers inscribed with the letter ‘g’, which did not stand for Gucci, as some bigotted catholics had alleged, but ‘gonski.’ It was therefore universally agreed that it was right and proper to support Mr Trumble’s plan to reactivate gonski, and roll out the new and supercharged version. True, there was a rearguard attempt to raise the usual boringly predictable and unproductive questions like how much additional gonski was really needed, what good would it do, could the country afford it and would it improve things and help young people qualify for some form of gainful employment. This approach, fortunately, held sway for only a short period of time until wiser heads prevailed. By that time, the commitment to unlimited gonski, whatever the result might be, and even if it produced no result, had firmly entrenched itself in the mind of the public. Thankfully, it is now beyond argument that government money should expand in direct proportion to the readiness of governments to waste it.
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