Monday, February 18, 2008

Squabbling over paying state school fees

The principal of one Hamilton school refuses to pay the "donation" due for his two daughters who attend another Hamilton school. He says,

"...the way Te Pahu School was getting money off parents was ethically and morally wrong."

He says the school should make it clear that the fee is voluntary. It is a "donation" and not a "fee" or "levy".

Here's the bit I found interesting (but the reporter didn't pick up on). The objecting principal is Mr Shane Ngatai.

Mr Ngatai said instead of asking parents to pay, principals should "cut their cloth" according to their resources. They should budget to be without the extra money.

But Mr Ngatai is the principal of a decile 3 school, which means his school will be receiving considerably more funding from the ministry per head than the school he is criticising, which is a decile 9 school. Here's the response from the 'richer' school.

Te Pahu School principal Jeff Falconer said the school ran at a deficit and this year had to find 20-30 per cent of its income through fundraising.

So the 'winner' from the variable funding system is criticising the 'loser'.

What they should both be criticising is the state funding system. It attempts to equalise outcomes but fails miserably (decile 10 schools have double the NCEA pass rate of decile 1). What it succeeds at is creating envy and resentment.


Anonymous said...

Until there is a change in attitude towards the importance of education in the communities which feed decile 1 schools, throwing money at them will not improve outcomes. The government might as well divert the money to decile 10 schools and get some value for it.

Anonymous said...

I never understood this decile 1 vs decile 10 thing...

Am I correct in thinking that decile 1 means that the locals are richer, hence the school gets less funding? (ie - the parents pay twice; through their higher tax contributions, and again through fundraising)

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Spam, your confusion is understandable. The health department classifies rich to poor from decile 1 to decile 10. The education department reverses that and classifies the richest areas as decile 10 and gives those schools the least amount of funding per pupil. When I last checked decile ten pupils received half of the funding of decile 1. Hence the decile 10 schools have the largest fund-raising burden and rely heavily on school 'donations' which can rise to $3-400 per child.

Anonymous said...

Then there are independent schools which have had their funding capped since 2000 (Labour hates successful schools that out-perform the state schools) and have had a huge increase in rolls since then as parents abandon state schools. I work two jobs to keep my kids at independent schools and still pay taxes to keep other people's kids at failing state schools. Not fair at all.

Brian Smaller

Allistar said...

It's not fair to pay for schooling twice. In my opinion the funding for schools is a private matter and the government should not be involved. Communities are better equipped to run schools, not governments. Let people pay for schooling themselves out of the money that the government currently confiscates from them via the IRD.