February 7, 2006
NZEI Says The Maxim Institute Are Backing Failed Policies
“It’s disappointing that the Maxim Institute, is calling for school zones to be scrapped and for the introduction of a voucher system, when these policies have been tried and have failed,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper.
In a report released today the Maxim Institute recommends “the complete abolition of zones” and the introduction of a voucher scheme, in which “funding follows children to the school of their parents’ choice in the form of a tuition credit or a tuition tax credit.”
“Abolishing school zoning would be a disastrous,” says Irene Cooper. “This was proven in the 1990s when a National Government scrapped zones in 1991 but then had to reintroduce a zoning system seven years later, because not having zones simply didn’t work.”
“We learnt in the 90s that the free market advocates were wrong,” says Irene Cooper. “Removing zoning did not result in parents or students having a greater choice of schools. Instead it led to schools cherry picking the students, they considered the best and the brightest, and ending up with over crowded classrooms.”
The National Government that scrapped zoning in 1991 realised its mistake when it amended zoning rules in 1998. In 2000 a Labour-led Government gave children the right to attend their local school. “It’s a pity the Maximum Institute hasn’t learnt from the mistakes made in the 1990s,”says Irene Cooper.
The institute bases its call to scrap zoning on a survey it commissioned in which parents were asked if they agreed with the statement, ‘I would like to select the school my child goes to.’ It’s hardly surprising that 96% of parents polled said they agreed.
But a more informative statistic comes from a National Business Review opinion poll in 2003, which asked parents if they were satisfied with the standard of education their children are receiving. Nearly 80% said they were satisfied.
“When you consider that most children are educated in state schools, this shows that the vast majority of parents are satisfied with the education their children are receiving at their local state school,” says Irene Cooper. “What we need to do is to continue building and improving our world class state schools.”
Tuition vouchers were introduced in the United States in the early 1990s and have been rejected by American parents and schools because they don’t work. A Gallup Poll in August 2001 found that, when given the choice of having a voucher system, or improving and strengthening public schools, 71% of the American general public chose greater investment in their public schools, 27% chose vouchers.
“The evidence is clear abolishing zones and introducing tuition vouchers simply doesn’t work,” says Irene Cooper. “We need to bury these failed policies once and for all.”
“If New Zealand wants to build a knowledge economy and to have a prosperous society in which we can all share, we need to invest in our state schools to ensure their staff have the resources they need to provide every child with a high quality education,” says Irene Cooper.