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Welfare for the Wealthy – National's Ed Policy

Welfare for the Wealthy – National Party Education Policy

John Minto National Chairperson - The National Party’s Education policy paper released yesterday is a thinly disguised recipe for more “welfare for the wealthy”.

National claims to want to make private schools more accessible to low and middle income earners and yet the policy direction proposed will simply put more money in the coffers of wealthy private schools.

When last in government National increased subsidies for private schools by 220% between 1994 and 2000 while at the same time keeping operational grants to public schools at increases below the rate of inflation. For what is possibly the wealthiest private school in the country, Kings College, the increase was from $630,000 in 1994 to more than $2million per year from 2000.

Despite this huge increase, as far as we are aware, not a single private school reduced its fees to parents over this time.

Instead, wealthy private schools have used this money to enhance their exclusivity and keep the great unwashed mass of New Zealand students off their carefully manicured lawns.

It would be better for National to simply be honest with its policy intentions rather than try to use low and middle income families to advance the interests of the rich.

National’s policy of national testing for primary schools students would have some merit if it were possible to increase student achievement by this method. It isn’t. There is an overwhelming mass of evidence that New Zealand students in middle to high income communities do as well in numeracy and literacy as students anywhere in the world. It is our students from low income communities who are well below optimum achievement.

We know where the problems are – they stick out like warts on our educational face. What schools and teachers in these areas need are the resources to make the difference.

Were National to do this it could steal a march on Labour whose educational policies are weak where resources are desperately needed.

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