Sunday, July 06, 2014

Education funding: awful attitudes and awful approaches

It's all in the way words are used:

Mike Williams moaning about inequality in NZ in today's HOS:
Can it be fair, for example, that decile 10 schools serving the wealthiest communities get more than $1000 more a pupil each year than decile 1 schools, a fact revealed by the Council for Educational Research?
Government funding for the wealthiest schools is half the funding for the poorest, but you wouldn't know it based on the above. (Update: Commentor Merlin, writes, "Deceptive writing - typical Mike Williams. Decile 1 schools serving the poorest areas get the most government funding and by quite a long chalk. High decile schools get more donations but that is no crime.")

Here's the Minister on the same issue:
Ms Parata said she was unable to comment on a New Zealand Council for Educational Research report that found decile 10 schools in wealthy areas had about $1100 more per pupil to spend a year than decile one schools, despite lower decile schools receiving larger sums of government money.
The report found the decile one schools' average spending money totalled $7500 per pupil per year, while the decile 10 schools' amounted to about $8600
However, she said she would be surprised if that figure was right. The government had increased investment into schools by 30 per cent increase since 2008 and some New Zealand schools had dropped their requests for school donations, because they were managing without them.
So any extra funding in the decile 10 schools is coming directly from parents.

Which reminds me of a suggestion in the Child Poverty in New Zealand book by Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple:

There are various ways through which public funding of the education system could be changed to mitigate child poverty. For schools, there are three broad options available:
1. To boost the overall level of resources available, especially for lower-decile schools
2. To limit the capacity of high-decile schools to raise additional revenue, and
3. To redistribute existing resources within the overall education sector.

It is the second idea I find abhorrent. That children of wealthier parents should be intentionally disadvantaged in order to bring their opportunities relatively closer to those of children in lower decile schools. Not satisfied with the existing level of redistribution the power of the state should be used to flatten the educational spectrum further.

Making the poor relatively richer by making the rich relatively poorer is a truly awful approach.


Anonymous said...

2. To limit the capacity of high-decile schools to raise additional revenue...

It is the second idea I find abhorrent.

This is the very principle on which NZ education as based! By definition, the amounts of revenue almost all schools in NZ (and all universities, polys, etc) can raise are limited by law. Grammar could easily raise (and spend) an additional $40M per year but charging very reasonable fees indeed of only $15,000, the same as Cathedral Grammar in quake-munted Christchurch and frankly an absolute bargain. Given the opportunities that would provide to their pupils and the quality of the education they would then recieve it is unconscionable that they do not do this.

So why don't they? Solely because they are prohibited from charging these very reasonable fees by law. I know many middle-class NZ families sending their kids to school in Australia, Singapore, or to Winchester, Westminster, Rugby, etc. Were Grammar to aspire to true excellence, these families would be able to educate their kids in NZ.

Jigsaw said...

It really is an awful idea to make the poor richer by making the rich poorer. It reminds me that when George Bernard Shaw (a socialists) went to Russia he came back saying that it was great because "everyone was shabby". Socialists still have this basic idea. I can't see a time when schools will not want to raise their own funds. Some lower decile schools are very good at raising funds and involving all parents. The other thing is that schools like governments can always think of more ways of spending money. I recall teaching in a school in Canada where I was asked by my supervisor "how quickly can you spend $3000?" Of course I could spend it really quickly if not wisely. And I did.