177 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Freelander
    I only have one post a dau until further notice…..but this is it.

    Freelander says

    “Have some pity for the poor taxpayer. They have enough to pay with providing schooling to those who would be better off doing something else than to provide the schooling through an incredibly expensive voucher libertarian looney toons scheme. ”

    I agree.

    And I thought libertarians wanted lower tax??…ha ..yet another libertarian hyporcrisy. Those who pay tax must now fund those who can afford to pay for their own private schooling with free vouchers…

    Libertarians just dont get that taxes are not there to feed the children of the rich….they think their taxes are like a rebate payable to them …pay em..ask for them back for vouchers for their kids. What a complete waste of effort collecting those income taxes in the first place – if they are just then applied to upper middle and upper class education costs.

    This is nonsense. Why should the upper middle class and the upper class get vouchers for their kids private school education on the backs of lower and middle class tax payers??.

    They (the wealthy) dont need it. Income tax and welfare is not a kitty to be handed out to the undeserving wealthy and their kids.

    Do we not notice how inequality has risen?. Is anyone out there looking at this problem in Australia? Since when did we ever let the rich run the rest of us over? Never. But this situation of private school subsidisation (thats all it is – and there is another hypocrisy – I thought libertarians dont agree with government intervention?? A subsidy – call it a voucher – call it a ticket – its still a subsidy – a government subsidy.

    The powerful and wealthy have swung redistribution their way and their childrens way and that isnt going to fix the problem of inequality, is it?. As a child I remember when PLC Pymble, Abbotsleigh, Knox and Barker and KInks and Shore kids got no vouchers and no subsidies.

    Their parents coped just fine with the bills thankyou very much.

    They didnt need it then and they certainly dont need it now (subsidies). Its neoliberal market worshipping ideological small government seeking libertarian right wing rubbish to subsidise private schools.

    Thats my daily post.

  2. In 2005, private got about $6.6 billion, public schools about $24.2 billion. Source – http://www.acer.edu.au/documents/PolicyBriefs_Dowling07.pdf

    That’s odd…

    THERE are calls to overhaul the Commonwealth school funding system, with new research showing it still favoured the private sector, which represents about one-third of all students.

    Federal funding for public schools was rising, but its share remained less than the non-government sectors, research conducted by University of Sydney academic Dr Jim McMorrow showed.

    By 2013 private schools would receive $47 billion in federal funding, compared to $35 billion for government schools.

    And that would take the public sector’s share to about 36 per cent, according to the Australian Education Union (AEU)-commissioned data.

    http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,26600869-5003402,00.html

    ahh, commissioned by the AEU so the figures are obviously just made up

  3. @Andrew Reynolds

    Well, why not look at a report from the Productivity Commission (or as it was then called the Industry Commission)…

    http://www.pc.gov.au/ic/inquiry/34public

    Occasionally (very occasionally) some good work has managed to make its way out the doors of that hallowed institution.

    Vouchers are discussed quite extensively and several references are provided. But how about you do your on literature search?

    The problem with ideas like that the average or the average poor parent is fully equipped to make specialist decisions in education, is the same conceit that the ordinary unqualified nitwit Lord whatever is able to make specialist assessments of climate science or that someone who has read some popular drivel from one of the many ‘independent’ think tanks, or an opinion piece in “The Australian” or one of the polemic writers – Friedman, Hayek or Rand – knows all about how to cure all the evils in the world with the ‘right’ speculative public policy.

    Of course, none of these cures has ever been properly tried because ‘they never went far enough’. Libertarians have left a swathe of wreckage, across the globe and across the late 20th and early 21st century. But still the ‘true believers’ prattle on.

    Anyone how has had experience with dyed in the wool Marxists is able to say how similar in their imperviousness to facts or logic Libertarians are.

  4. @Alice

    Nice post Alice. You always make a lot of sense always with a generous dollop of dash and humour.

    My daily post quota thus made.

    (Since I rarely post here I wonder if I can accumulate credits in unmade daily posts and p’haps even transfer these to others, e.g. to Alice?) Just wonderin’.

  5. Anyway, I think that’s enough gratuitous education provided for the day. Or would any of you care to remunerate me? (And all provided without a voucher changing hands!)

  6. @gerard
    The continual misrepresenting of school funding by the teaching unions and the labor party is annoying, as is the assertion that somehow or other collective action for the education of children is morally wrong in a way that collective action at the workplace isn’t. As for the private schools for the rich thing – we sent our daughter to a private school at $12k a year for 5 years = $60k. We wouldn’t have if the state school system could cater for her physical disability. But they couldn’t – no wheelchairs, no kids on crutches, no kids needing rehab etc etc. Can we get a refund for having to fork out all that dough that people whose kids weren’t disabled didn’t have to pay? Nup. But we can get simplistic sanctimonious junk about private schools being for the rich and privileged.

  7. @gerard

    This sort of right-wing stuff

    ahh, commissioned by the AEU so the figures are obviously just made up

    is:
    boring
    useless
    dumb
    stupid
    unthinking
    unintelligent
    childish
    wasteful
    predictable
    stuck-up
    looney
    incompetant
    trite
    base
    nonsensical, and
    hackneyed.

  8. Freelander,
    Your literature search on vouchers in education seems to have gone as far as … ummm … public housing.
    Informative, no doubt, but AFAICS not relevant.

  9. Re Alice @1 p3;

    “But this situation of private school subsidisation (thats all it is ”

    Yes, I could never understand why the private students have to subsidise the public ones either Alice.

    A private student gets $6000 per year of government money and a public one gets $12,000, so to get an equivalent $12000 per year spend on education, each private school parent subsidises public education $6000 per year. Considering private students make up nearly a third of all students, thats a whopping subsidy.

  10. @Tony G

    The rich student has the choice of either a state school or a private school.

    Presumably this is valuable if they freely pay the extra $6,000.

    The poor student does not have this valuable opportunity, so they get an extra $6,000 subsidy to compensate for lack of freedom to choose schools.

    Now if private education goes up in price, and rich kids freely purchase education valued at $15,000, then even more money will have to go to poor kids to maintain a level playing field.

    Your logic, which gives rich kids more choice than poor families, leads to the situation where different socio-economic groups get different educations. This damages society.

  11. @Andrew Reynolds

    Apparently you have reading difficulties to add to your others. I really didn’t expect you to do other than demonstrate your imperviousness to facts and logic.

    I’m afraid that a ‘talking book’ version of the document probably didn’t come out.

    Just to correct, you yet one more time – the report’s literature search. The report has references. There are plenty of interesting references on vouchers provided.

    Maybe you don’t know how to look up references in a report. If you go to the “Table of Contents” you can find where the references are in the report. If you are still having difficulties, why not go to your local library and ask a librarian for assistance?

    So why don’t you look them up and track them down and read them (or have someone read them to you), instead of contributing to your growing mountain of drivel?

  12. @Tony G
    As I only get one post a day pro tem its aa bit of a shame Im wasting it on Tony G.

    Tony, the reason we have state schools goes back a long way to the voices of our leaders over 100 years ago (I think)…who said something along these lines

    “No child in this country will go without the ability to have education”

    As it says in this link

    http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au/item.asp?sdID=25

    “Government schools were to be secular with no teaching of religion.
    Schooling was compulsory and children were required to attend school both because literacy and numeracy were a way to the common good, and because educated citizens were essential to self-government. Education was free, because it served the public benefit.”

    Later, as people decided they wanted a bit of religion taught they chose to send their children to private or semi private schools (like catholic schools). I would suggest to you that religious direction was likely an important part of the decision and for additional facilities those people who chose to send their children to private schools paid more.

    As it should be. Private schools should not compete with public education for funding at all in my opinion. Private schools should not have any public funding.

    I would also suggest that over time aspirational elistism became the new religion and a reason why many people send their children to private schools today, not because the education is any better than that gained at a public school. This should not be a reason to divert funding (subsidies) to private schools on the basis theyn are “saving the government money.” This is irresponsible on the part of governments.

    The principles and moral values and benefit to the community and the economy in the provision of free education (or at minimal cost) have not changed in over 100 years.

  13. @Chris Warren
    Sorry Chris, I thought my comment about the AEU was obviously sarcastic.

    Anyway, these figures were in the news a few days ago. The balance of government funding seems to be going to private schools not public schools. It’s only two numbers so I don’t know why nanks considers it sanctimonious junk. Unless anybody has any evidence that these figures are wrong I’ll assume they’re right.

  14. as has been endlessly pointed out – the state ie the state as a totality not just the feds, not just the state govts – fund public school students at a higher rate than private school students. Unless you look at total funding by ‘the state’ you are being disingenuous

  15. yes the figures only apply to federal government funding. Kevin Rudd increased funding to private schools by 32%. it is an extension of Howard’s attitude toward health care: the public system is broken, therefore subsidize the private system.

  16. i’ll point out – I’d prefer an excellent public ed system – as with health. But as a parent one has to go with what is best for one’s child (or at least my partner and I think that way ). We also had to go private health for our child’s disability. Not our ideal solution, but…

  17. I’ve always been a fan of public education at all levels, as it removes the religion from school education. Religion, if it is felt so necessary, may be taught to children outside of the school environment, say at church or sunday school, as it was called in my time. Then, during the week, the public education system may concentrate on the stuff that shouldn’t be infused with religion in the first place. After all, there are many religions as well as agnosticism, deism, and atheism, so sticking to a non-religious public education increases the opportunity for kids of different religious backgrounds as well as different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to mix and share some of their childhood together.

    The usual objection to public education these days is that the government can manipulate the education of our kiddies. Well we have a democracy in which governments may change from one inclination to another, and that is a reasonable defence against propaganda behaviour getting locked in. Further more, if the teachers are treated and trained as public servants with professional integrity, they themselves will act up if they feel the government is reaching beyond its remit. A charter like the ABC has is another way of explicitly identifying the line between government and the educational process and content.

    As Alice has clearly identified the original purpose of a public education system, and the appreciation of it as a public good, has been lost. This has happened incrementally, starting with the toleration of small “independent” schools that sprang to existence. In Australia it is very difficult to stand up and directly challenge Australians practicing a Christian religion, and when the early independent schools were largely or totally financially independent of the government, they got their way. Over time some of the independent schools became known as “social class separating”, in the sense that to be a student there enabled entry (or at least was necessary for entry or continuing membership) into the in-group of society. This influenced the fee structures in several ways, not least in charging high fees to establish a barrier to entry; such exclusiveness further strengthened these particular independent schools, to the point where they could offer a higher quality education – at least to the “exclusive” elite, ie the upper class. What was once essentially an escape of Christians from public education, so they could imbue their children with essence-of-Christian through private education, has become a question of status and class.

    Somewhere along the way the power-bloc that the independent schools represented grew influential enough that it could shift governments to “subsidise” the costs of providing this higher quality education. Once the Howard government cemented its position in the second half of the nineties, John Howard and other ministers enthusiastically embraced taxpayer funding of independents schools as a means to enabling the aspirational middleclass to send their kiddies to these corporations. The changes pre-dated Howard’s government, and continue to this day.

    Secular education is now available to fewer students percentage-wise than previously. It is claimed (and I am still trying to find original source of this) that over 100 independent schools in Australia teach “Intelligent Design” to students. This sound preposterous until it is recalled that Queensland was home to the strongest Intelligent Design organisation outside of the United States, during the 90s, and even to this day is still going strong. Remember that around 2004/2005 several Howard ministers quite happily pushed Intelligent Design CDs towards independent schools, and they openly considered the prospect of teaching it in public schools.

    I think that the Genie is out of the bottle on this one and the current Australian public won’t accept a return to mass public education. Nor would the independent schools stand idly by if their funding is under threat. Therefore, we had better get used to local Madras schools alongside Christian schools. I cannot see much social integration occurring if Muslims have one school, Christians another, and non-religious yet another.

  18. nanks

    As soon as special needs get into the equation, different nuances emerge.

    Due to rightwing jingoistic campaigns against tax, the public school system is not going to have resources for every special needs that a community exhibits.

    However the underlying argument still remains; if some parents get better education or health to address special needs, then poor kids also need this right or opportunity.

    So the existence of special needs increases the need for a developed public school system as public school families may not be able to access services as you appear to have done.

    As I remember when this issue was boiling in the 70’s, the public schooling system only needed additional funding equal to one or two F111’s. Presumably its the same now, except the needed funding is available in the education budget but being gobbled-up by private and sectarian schools.

  19. I understand what you say Chirs – but kids on crutches or even in wheelchairs hardly qualifies as ‘special needs’ – but in the end I also am for quality public ed – what I object to is the simplistic jingoism of the left that private ed is for status seekers and the rich, when clearly that is not the case.

  20. @nanks
    I guess my post above just above yours failed your jingoism test 😛
    In my defence I am considering the history of private education, remembering that for most of the 20th century Australia was white Anglosaxon Christian majority. It is a fairly recent development that middle-income families have been in a position to send their kiddies to private schools on mass. Indeed, the various private schools have evolved as has their customer base.

  21. @Donald Oats
    An interesting comment. I think you have downplayed the valid objections one can raise against public education, but that’s not what I’m primarily interested in.

    “the appreciation of it as a public good, has been lost”

    There may have been a change in attitude towards education, but I think most people are still well aware of its status as a generator of positive externalities (though typically they don’t think of it in those words). Note that education is not a public good, and that public goods don’t have to be provided publicly anyway.

    “to the point where they could offer a higher quality education”

    An underlying presumption that many people have about how we organise our education system (including you, it seems) is that private schools offer a ‘better’ education because they cost more, and that all we need is more money put into public schools. This is not strictly true.

    More money buys more resources, but as funding/performance trends in many countries have shown, notably the US, more money does not necessarily result in a better education. The education of our young is not a simple matter, and there are many factors that will have an impact on their relative success. So your assertion that the fiscal strength of independent schools has led to their “higher quality education” is not cut-and-dried.

    “I cannot see much social integration occurring if Muslims have one school, Christians another, and non-religious yet another.”

    This, to my mind, is easily the strongest argument for an integrated public system. Having separate educational streams is probably going to exacerbate social divisions (though I should point out that racial integration in the US is improved by voucher schemes, but that’s less of an issue in Australia). Yet we pride ourselves on having a multicultural society – why is it that cultural practice is sacrosanct everywhere but in classrooms?

    I acknowledge that there is an “appropriate mix” argument here that goes beyond education. That is, as a society we don’t want people in Australia to have zero cultural-social overlap, nor do we want a monoculture that everyone is forcibly assimilated into, so we try to find a balance. Giving children a shared experience at school during formative years while allowing freedom of religion and expression and association elsewhere looks like a reasonable path to take (assuming that general level of integration is the goal). As long as we realise that we are forcing this integration, and justifying the means by the ends. However, surely you can see how one might reasonably object to this?

    Of course, we currently give an escape route – pay more to get a school more suited to your needs. But then we’re effectively saying that some people deserve public funding and others don’t. Which I agree with (in other areas), but I wonder how many advocates of this position realise what they’re really saying.

    Lastly, commenters here may not have seen this very relevant debate. Worth a read regardless of your position.

  22. @Jarrah responded:

    “to the point where they could offer a higher quality education”

    An underlying presumption that many people have about how we organise our education system (including you, it seems) is that private schools offer a ‘better’ education because they cost more, and that all we need is more money put into public schools. This is not strictly true.

    More money buys more resources, but as funding/performance trends in many countries have shown, notably the US, more money does not necessarily result in a better education. The education of our young is not a simple matter, and there are many factors that will have an impact on their relative success. So your assertion that the fiscal strength of independent schools has led to their “higher quality education” is not cut-and-dried.

    I agree with your comments but not as a response to my statement, because you have cut it too short: the key words in the paragraph from which my quote comes are some of the independent schools, and these particular independent schools. In other words, I am referring to a subset of the schools in my comments about a higher quality education. That aside, you are certainly correct in noting that quality, however it is measured, is correlated rather more weakly with fees/money invested, than might at first be expected. The new myschool Website apparently illustrates this point perfectly.

    With regards to your question posed over the imposed integration via public schooling, ie As long as we realise that we are forcing this integration, and justifying the means by the ends. However, surely you can see how one might reasonably object to this?, could you give me some examples of the strongest rational objections that might be raised? I would like to think about any strong criticisms that can be made.

    As an aside, one thing that Daniel Dennett raises repeatedly in his work is the fact that freedom of religion does not extend to children of religious parents in general. Many religious people are born into their religion, and by the time they are able to reason about such things intellectually, they are in fact fully indoctrinated into the religion. Realistically, it is mainly adults who are capable of exercising such freedom, and then only if their current religion recognises a right of participants to walk away.

  23. Sorry Jarrah, I used the wrong quote tag for my question re integration. Try no. 2:

    With regards to your question posed over the imposed integration via public schooling, ie

    As long as we realise that we are forcing this integration, and justifying the means by the ends. However, surely you can see how one might reasonably object to this?

    Could you give me some examples of the strongest rational objections that might be raised? I would like to think about any strong criticisms that can be made.

  24. @Donald Oats
    I don’t know how strong (or how ‘rational’) you might consider these, but I’ll give it a go off the top of my head. Some will be paraphrasing my earlier points.

    One might have Kantian ethics. One might object to assimilation in general on human rights grounds – if self-determination is important, then assimilation becomes less important. On a practical level, the degree of assimilation is contestable, both intended and achieved – is this level of social integration desirable, is it possible? From a utilitarian perspective, there is doubt as to whether the reduction in freedom inherent in maintaining public education provides sufficient benefits to make it worthwhile. Arguing from a desire for policy coherence, we don’t implement this forced integration in other areas of life, often for good reasons – why is education a special case? From an anthropological angle, one could argue that it would reduce cultural dynamism and richness.

    I’m sure there are other reasons that haven’t occurred to me here and now.

    Regarding freedom of religion, and indoctrination, you either have to believe parents a) have a right to bring up their children as they see fit, b) have a right to bring up their children as they see fit within certain guidelines/laws, or c) don’t have the right to bring up their children as they see fit. Option A gives children no rights, B is the reasonable status quo, and C is the Jonestown method which I’m sure no-one here subscribes to. Option B, of course, means that parents are often going to do things which others object to, but we just have to live with it. Freedom of thought, by necessity, means freedom to indoctrinate your children. It’s an unfortunate fact of life.

  25. @Jarrah

    “Freedom of thought, by necessity, means freedom to indoctrinate your children. It’s an unfortunate fact of life.”

    No. It’s not. It’s not even necessarily “an unfortunate fact of life” within a formal, centralised educational system.

    It is “an unfortunate fact of life” only if you agree to indoctrinate.

    There are options to indoctrination.

    That you don’t recognise these crucial options is *your* failure of imagination and ideological impoverishment.

  26. Freelander,
    My “reading difficulties” are evidently bad enough that I cannot see how a request from me to provide examples of where voucher systems for education have failed is answered by providing a link to an old (now 17 years out of date) Australian federal government report on public housing supply.
    Perhaps my academic experience has not allowed me to think quite so “laterally” as you seem to be able to.
    Please provide one or more links and (perhaps if it is not too great a strain) some actual logical argument to support your position that “[t]here is a wealth of material indicating how dopey the ‘voucher’ idea, in its various guises, is.” As the discussion was about education, I believe the “…material…” should relate to education.
    If you cannot find any then I will have to assume you were merely wrong on that.

  27. “Freedom of thought” relies on some protections against indoctrination, especially protections for children. Realising the objective of indoctrinating your children is made more difficult where children are subject to other points of view from an early age. Exclusive and cloistered societies and cults where children are surrounded by the like-minded provide environments where indoctrination is best achieved. Consequently, some sorts of private schools ought to discouraged or even disallowed in a free society. These sorts of private schools certainly shouldn’t be provided with funding from the taxpayer.

  28. @Freelander

    “Exclusive and cloistered societies and cults where children are surrounded by the like-minded provide environments where indoctrination is best achieved.”

    Like the contemporary privatised family system and its spin-offs? Oh yes.
    @Freelander

  29. Provision of education is for a fixed quantity of students per year. If more go to private schools the economy pays twice for these students, once for the state subsidy and once by the parents paying additional fees. By encouraging more private schools education is costing more for the nation. So is the additional price being paid by private school parents providing a return on the investment? Are these parents making a rational decision? I hear of stories where poor parents make incredible sacrifices to send their children to private schools. I hear stories where public schools get very good results even compared to the private schools. Eliminating all payments by the State/Federals to private schools would test this. If private schools are to exist they would be fully funded by parents.
    There is no justification for a two tier system in education (or in health).
    No doubt there would be screams from the private schools that the entire system would collapse if subsidies were removed. This was one of the key arguments in the original funding of catholic schools by the government. Sure there would be a period of adjustment but a single public system of education for all is (in my opinion) a more sensible model.

  30. @Alicia
    This is taking us into unresolvable philosophical questions – why is whatever paradigm the “formal, centralised educational system” is propounding not equally indoctrination? The problem here is that ‘indoctrination’ means “convincing children of something I don’t like” – it’s not a technical term. For example, religious parents can feel that secular public education is indoctrination, while their WWJD/creationist/homos-are-bad teachings are the best kind of thinking to inculcate.

    What I was driving at is that if you are free to think and believe whatever you want*, then it is inescapable that you will pass on some of that thinking to your children just through normal interaction, let alone explicit teaching. How you relate to friends, family and strangers; what you read and watch; what you talk about at the dinner table – these are all ways we informally ‘indoctrinate’ our children. Unless you’re proposing total thought control, indoctrination is an unavoidable fact of life.

    * – Leaving out the influences on what you ‘freely’ choose, another minefield of a topic.

    @Freelander
    “Consequently, some sorts of private schools ought to discouraged or even disallowed in a free society. These sorts of private schools certainly shouldn’t be provided with funding from the taxpayer.”

    I agree. There are various kinds of indoctrination, some very harmful to children or wider society. While I’m sure I would allow greater latitude than you, I certainly wouldn’t advocate giving vouchers to madrassas that only taught the Koran, for example. The Brethren are another, similar worry.

  31. a href=”#comment-254298″>@Jarrah

    You’ve obviously know nothing of open schools. Schools at a primary level where kids could decide what to read, what to do and whether to spend their day up a tree. Or not.

    These schools have had a high success rate evidenced at the primary/secondary entry (or equivalent) cusp.

  32. @Alicia
    You are, perhaps unwittingly, supporting my argument. I think schools need more variety (I’m of the “let a hundred flowers bloom” strand of political thought) and so oppose one-size-fits-all approaches like centralised education systems and national curricula. Open schools suit some children very well (others not so much), and there should be plenty of space for such alternative approaches.

  33. To the extent that open schools are no longer a widespread option, affordable or accessible is a result of the corporatisation, homogenisation and privatisation of education, an outcome concomitant with and a direct result of the workings of free market capitalism in recent decades.

  34. @Jarrah

    Do you really want to opportunistically use Kant for your designs?

    One might have Kantian ethics.

    If so, please explain how the mechanisms used by monopolies to get rich so they can afford special education, can be a universal will or law for everybody.

    On the other hand, I would say that public education is based on a pure Kantian maxim because such education (and the act of consuming such education) can be a universal right, will or law for all of society.

    If poor people cannot afford private school fees – such establishments only provide hypothetical rights to this segment of society.

    Presumably Kant would find this immoral.

  35. @David Booth
    You say
    “Provision of education is for a fixed quantity of students per year. If more go to private schools the economy pays twice for these students, once for the state subsidy and once by the parents paying additional fees. By encouraging more private schools education is costing more for the nation. So is the additional price being paid by private school parents providing a return on the investment?”

    I would also be questioning the steep rises in private school fees in recent years…which seem to have increased quite substantially in a number of schools (omit the catholic school system from this argument) notwithstanding the level of government subsidies they omce didnt have….and as is evidenced also by the lavish facilities some private schools have been able to construct – with the help of state grants.

    yes – a two tier school system is coming into effect..thanks to misplaced state subsidisation.

    Yet along with so many other once publicly provided services now, under the neoliberal ideologies of recent decades whereby the “market always does it better” and we have moved further away from the historical mixed economy, even schooling is considered better in the hands of private sector providers…

    But …and a huge but….the price in many private schools has been rising at a faster rate than inflation and certainly doesnt appear to reflect all those additional subsidies flowing to the school does it?

    Really reminds me of something similar….like Eddy Grove’s childcare prices and childcare prices generally. He got subsidies too along with other private childcare providers.

    Perhaps the real intention (of the state) is for the state to withdraw altogether (from childcare and education provision) and leave parents without reasonable education or childcare services or affordable access to either.

    Has anyone thought of that? Paying more for less and still paying taxes?

  36. Anyway – wait till the state schools decline so much..and the parents cant afford private and the kids are running round the streets like ragamuffins (or pickpockets or worse)..

    We might actually remember why Govts wanted them in school in the first place and were willing to subsidise public education!

  37. @Chris Warren
    I was referring to the second formulation, not the first. And I think your application of the first vis-à-vis educational systems is flawed, but I don’t really want to get into that side issue.

  38. Given the current system of governance and laws a shift to public education – all else held equal – will entrench privilege even more so than the current mixed system of education.

    Take as given that teachers are no different in the public or private system as it stands at the moment.

    Therefore what a private education offers is not better education but social cache – an entrance into wealth through social relations developed at school.

    Consider a poor family under the proposed new totally public system – two outcomes – funding remains the same as tax is increased to cover the per capita shortfall from abolishing private ed where students receive less state money. OR… funding declines because the extra per-capita funding from private sources is not made up by the state.

    Under the first scenario the poor student receives exactly the same ed they previously received, under the second they receive a worse education – at least as far as money = education. (and if it doesn’t why the discussion )

    Now consider a wealthy family under a new enforced public system, – they are now saving ~$12k a year in fees that used to go to the private eduation of each child. That’s 12k for tutors in every subject, for whatever educational resource they choose including overseas trips and computing resources.. whatever. It’s another 12k in the pocket per child that can be spent as they wish to further the interests of the child.

    I would argue – as a parent that was forced to use the private system due to discrimination by the state – that that child is now better off – ie more privileged- than if they had attended a private school under the current system. Certainly both my partner and I would recommend such a strategy now to someone whose child was not discriminated against as ours was.

    What the ‘rich’ can’t access under the proposed fully public system is the social relations side of private edu. But how serious is that? I would argue that it is not serious to the extent that a society is a meritocracy – after all the rich child is now on the receiving end of far greater resources that can be targetted to achieving meritorious performance.
    To the extent that a society is not a meritocracy it is also not a disadvantage – the child will still have access to other rich kids through the school – where rich and poor alike now go – as well as access through the parental social group (which in my experience should not be underplayed). Furthermore a new social group – the ambitious and talented poor are now available for developing as friends and cosequent allies.

    Thus the existing scheme – which extracts money from the wealthy to provide education for their children with only a partial subsidy, is fairer than a fully public system that returns greater discretionary income to the parents to use to further the interests of their children.

  39. The allocation of taxation revenue between public and private schools has been discussed from various perspectives, except one*, namely that of people who have paid tax throughout their working life but have no children. ** How do these people feature in the opinions of the discussants?

    *Apologies if I overlooked a post.
    ** I know such people exist but I could not find statistics on the ABS web-site.

  40. Chris Warren@ 10;

    “The rich student has the choice of either a state school or a private school”

    Chris, school students do not ususally have a choice of what school they go to, if they did, they would all be going to private schools. It is the parents who choose based on the STANDARD they can afford.

    Alice @ 13; BS alert again;

    “Later, as people decided they wanted a bit of religion taught they chose to send their children to private or semi private schools (like catholic schools).”

    No, Alice the private schools were here first and have always been a major contributor to Australia education;

    http://www.history.ac.uk/resources/e-seminars/potts-paper

    “Australia was initially settled as a penal colony for criminals from England, Ireland and Scotland. Originally the Church of England, claiming to be the established church, assumed responsibility for the education of the new colonists. This was challenged by the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches who had a large number of adherents among the colonists….

    …Following intense disagreements in the early years of settlement, by various religions claiming responsibility for education, each colony between 1872 and 1895 passed the “free, compulsory and secular” Education Acts which stopped most financial assistance to church schools and made primary education a state responsibility. However, the Catholic Church established its own education system.”

    And this was their reponse to the paganistic and indoctrinating philosphy of the secular public schools;

    “let all Catholic parents know that they cannot, without serious guilt, place their children in proximate danger of perversion. Let them bear in mind that to do so is to set at defiance the teachings of the Catholic Church; and that, unless there be exceptional reasons, and the danger be remote, of which things the Church is the judge, no Confessor can absolve such parents as are willing to expose their children’s souls to the blighting influence of an alien creed or a secularist system.”

    Anyway,

    funding was withdraw from private schools for nearly a 100 years until the 1960s when;

    ” Catholics waged increasingly desperate political campaigns such as the closing in 1962 of the Catholic schools in the city of Goulburn not far from the national capital of Canberra. Such a measure placed unbearable strains on the state system. ”

    Alice said

    “This should not be a reason to divert funding (subsidies) to private schools on the basis theyn are “saving the government money.” This is irresponsible on the part of governments”

    That statement is blatently wrong Alice, as demonstrated by the Goulburn incident that “placed unbearable strains on the state system” It would be irresponsible on the part of governments not to fund private education, unless they want a repeat of the Goulburn inccident.

    To the people here who seem to think private schools do not subsidise public ones, can you answer why the government funding per student would fall from $12,000 per student pa to $10,000 per student pa if all students went to government schools?

    approx figures 2007;

    1,000,000 private student @ $6000 each pa = $ 6,000,000,000
    2,000,000 public students @ $12,000 each pa = $24,000,000,000
    Total $30,000,000,000

    $30,000,000,000/3,000,000 public school students = $10,000 pa government money per student.

    When you have public school teachers and their union openly promoting a dumb policy (abolishing private schools); that would make their students worse off by spreading scarce resources (gov.monies) between more students; It is understandable why more and more parents would want to send their children elsewhere. A place where basic mathematical concepts like this 12,000> 10,000 are understood.

  41. @Ernestine Gross
    they get the warm inner glow Ernestine – I guess the problem with user pays is how well can one circumscribe phenomena, costs and benefits etc etc. if the phenomenal world and the relations obtaining within were computable then user-pays can be fairly applied universally. Otherwise perhaps not.

  42. Tony G :
    Chris Warren@ 10;
    “The rich student has the choice of either a state school or a private school”
    Chris, … It is the parents who choose based on the STANDARD they can afford.

    Thanks Tony G, you simply confirm my point, poor parents can afford a different standard rich parents.

    So obviously:

    Your logic, which gives rich kids more choice than poor families, leads to the situation where different socio-economic groups get different educations. This damages society.

    Which (of course) was my original point.

  43. @Tony G

    can you answer why the government funding per student would fall from $12,000 per student pa to $10,000 per student pa if all students went to government schools?

    Presumably because government schools get $2,000 less per capita funding than private schools.

    We’d all be better off if we didn’t have these private schools with their often double-sourced incomes.

  44. @Chris Warren
    on the contrary Chris Warren – by removing private schools you remove the co-payment obligation currently in place for private education and you will increase privilege by releasing more funds for the wealthy to spend on their children’s education

  45. @nanks

    Thank you for your reply. I am not sure about the ‘inner glow’ bit. It seems to me that the childless taxpayers (as described) are easy to identify and quantify and their net contribution to the school system is calculable. I can think of an argument why this segment of taxpayers are prepared to contribute to a public school system (their contribution to the education of the successor generation on whose work and skills the childless taxpayers depend in old age – financial wealth consists only of abstract objects, called real numbers, which are useless unless these numbers can be exchanged for goods and services). But I can’t think of an argument why this segment of taxpayers should be prepared to pay for other people’s preferences for religious education or their belief in ‘choice’ when they are not even asked their opinion.

    @nanks

    You wrote:
    ” … by removing private schools you remove the co-payment obligation currently in place for private education and you will increase privilege by releasing more funds for the wealthy to spend on their children’s education.”

    Your statement is not true in general. It is not true in all cases where the co-payment obligation is not a binding financial constraint. There are cases where people are so wealthy that the only constraint on the expenditure on their childrens’ education is the number of hours in a day. There are people who spend money on private tuition (academic, sport, music) in addition to paying fees for ‘elite’ or ‘expensive’ religious private schools . (The term ‘elite’ is taken from in the article referenced by Tony G.; ‘expensive’ tend to be those that restrict entry) I am not aware of publicly available statistics on this. However, my private information is drawn from a sample sufficiently large to justify a statistical examination – if only research would be costless. This private information includes observations indicating that there is a race on among parents with children in ‘elite’ or in some ‘expensive’ religious schools to outspend each other to such an extent that some of these parents do hit binding financial constraints (with ‘maxed out’ credit cards). There is a point, figuratively speaking, where spending on education by some parents looks like conspicuous consumption in the sense of Veblen.

  46. @Tony G

    Tony G, I am particularly interested in your application of simple arithmetic to answer the question: Why are childless taxpayers forced to contribute toward publicly subsidised education in ‘elite’ and in religious schools.

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