This interview with Noel Pearson covers some good ground -- his recovery from cancer, the limitations of the Northern Territory intervention, how welfare can be poison, indigenous home ownership, the emerging black middle class (resulting from the mining boom as covered by Marcia Langton in her recent Boyer Lectures) and how we need to do more than throw money at disadvantaged education.
EMMA ALBERICI: What do you think of Julia Gillard's education reforms announced on the weekend?
NOEL PEARSON: Well, I think there's a lot of opportunity for getting Indigenous education right, but the story the world over - I've thought a lot about education policy and the story the world over is that - and the story in Australia of the last seven years is one of increased investment without an increase in success. And what I would say to the Government is that, you know, I think the lesson from the world over is that if you don't - if you don't get the instruction right, if Australia doesn't get quality instruction coming from teachers to every child, we're missing the whole point of the increased investment. Teacher performance equals effective instruction. They must impart effective instruction to each and every child, and ...
EMMA ALBERICI: Do you get a sense that this new money being allocated by the Government, being earmarked, are you confident that the Government knows how to spend that well to improve teacher quality?
NOEL PEARSON: Um, no, I'm not. I think that there's a missing - you know, a lot of the things that we have done have simply not translated into more effective instruction in classrooms. I've seen that if you get the instruction right - with Aurukun School, for example, one of our academy schools, the most marginal school in the state of Queensland. It would be the contender when we took it over for being the worst school in Queensland. And yet today, children are reading, children are counting, children are writing. And it's because, you know, at the end of the day you can do everything - parental engagement, the whole show, but if you don't have teachers who are imparting effective instruction to the children, then you have nothing. And my concern is that I don't discern in current Federal Government policies a strong understanding of what should drive school reform. And this is absolutely critical for remote communities.