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A Little Choice Is Good, More Choice Is Better

16 July 2003

A Little Choice Is Good, More Choice Would Be A Whole Lot Better

The Education Review Office report on the performance of Catholic schools in New Zealand strongly highlights the benefits of, and need for, choice in education, according to Education Forum policy advisor Norman LaRocque.

The report, released yesterday, found that Catholic schools provide an education equivalent to that offered by New Zealand state schools and have a lower rate of supplementary reviews (an indicator of concern about a school's performance) than state schools.

"The report blows away the myth that privately-owned schools are only for rich families, with Catholic schools found across all socio-economic levels," said Mr LaRocque.

It also shows that schools do not need to be owned by the government in order to serve the wider public interest, he said.

"While the existing level of choice offered by Catholic and other schools of choice is good, we need a whole lot more of it. The growth in independent school rolls and the lengthy queues of 'non-preference' students at Catholic schools such as St Patrick's Primary School in Paraparaumu show families' thirst for choice in education.

"Unfortunately, government policy remains mired in a union-engineered Jurassic Age, with policies such as zoning, limits on 'non-preference' students, inequitable funding policies that favour some schools over others and a general anti-private sector government bias, all acting to limit choice in education.

"It is time for the modernisation of New Zealand's school funding policies. Families are increasingly demanding it and the country needs it," Mr LaRocque said.


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