Creeping Privatisation of Public Schooling
1 February 2005
Government Oblivious to Creeping Privatisation of Public Schooling
The government’s response to community alarm at the growing cost of “free” public schooling is deplorable.
The Minister of Education David Benson-Pope is reported as saying he will “launch an investigation” asking Boards of Trustees to justify the “outright magnitude of the amount of some requests”
The Minister is well out of touch with reality. His reported comments are trying to drive a wedge between schools and parents rather than face the truth of government underfunding of public schools.
Such has been the steady erosion of “free education” in the last 15 years that public schools now charge as much as $740 in “voluntary donations” each year along with a myriad of other charges.
Demands on parents to pay are growing each year because the gap between government funding – through the bulk-funded Operations Grant – and what schools know is required to provide quality education continues to widen.
This week parents will receive invoices for “donations” towards their children’s education totalling around two hundred million dollars. (The government insists on schools using the word “donation” when asking for fees so as to try to preserve the myth that it adequately funds schools)
“User pays” is steadily eroding publicly provided education and increasingly the quality of education that can be provided at a school depends on the ability of the parents to pay the necessary top-up to government funding.
The iniquities for students grow more stark each year. The gaps in parental income which have become a chasm in the last 20 years are now being duplicated in school incomes.
It is astonishing that the Labour government has been so impervious to passionate calls for substantial increases in the operations grant for schools. They have traditionally been more supportive of public education and with a massive budget surplus or around $6.5 billion one would think these were the ingredients for high quality education through well funded schools.
QPEC will be continuing to campaign over the next 4 months for a dramatic increase in the school operations grant in the 2005 budget and a curb placed on fees schools can charge parents.