Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


NRT: Some Facts About Education

NRT: Some Facts About Education

A wonky piece looking at National's claims to be able to save money on education. As usual it has been published at http://norightturn.blogspot.com

*******


Yesterday's Herald reported on a study from the Council for Educational Research showing that parents were refusing to prop up schools and that our "free" education system's ability to raise extra funds to cover government underfunding. One of the TV news channels (sorry, I lose track) followed up with a report that, on average, schools only received 66% of their revenue from the government and had to raise the rest themselves. It then quoted National's Bill English, who presented the National party's solution (as seen in their education policy): slash the number of "education bureaucrats" and redirect the funding to schools. But there's one problem: "education bureaucrats" make up only a tiny fraction of the overall education budget.

A quick perusal of the Budget 2005 estimates of appropriation for Vote: Education [PDF] reveals the following facts:

  • Total education spending for 2005/06 is $8,519.381 million;
  • of that, the vast bulk ($6,305.367 million) goes on "provision of educational services", meaning schools, universities, and ECE centres;
  • Primary education costs a total of $1,988.163 million, secondary $1,536.401 million, for a total of $3,524.564 million of the above;
  • $1,371.667 million is spent on services purchased from the Ministry of Education - the "education bureaucracy".

(These numbers aren't meant to add up; I'm trying to give a relative picture of the costs involved. if you want a full breakdown, read the estimates)

National points to the growth in overall education spending, and in particular the growth of spending on the Ministry to paint a picture of a bureaucracy gone mad. But this isn't entirely supported by the facts. While Ministry spending has indeed grown, the largest jump - between 2002 and 2003 - is due to the absorption of the previously independent Specialist Education Service (SES) into the Ministry. This added about $150 million into the departmental budget. More importantly, there has also been significant growth in the capital charge and depreciation spending - which shorn of the accountantspeak means the government has built new buildings and spent on maintenance that had been deferred for years under the previous National government. So we're not seeing a metastasising bureaucracy so much as a reorganisation and a significant growth in investment. Likewise, the growth in overall spending is due to them doing more (particularly in the area of early childhood education), and paying teachers more - not "waste".

But more importantly, when we look inside the Ministry's funding, we find that precious little of it is actually spent on bureaucrats. Of the Ministry's $1,371.667 million budget, $971.729 million goes on "provision of school sector property". $624.589 million of this is the capital charge (essentially depreciation on school buildings, repaid to the government in the name of transparent accounting), and the rest goes on maintenance, upgrades, and new construction. $163.295 million goes on the Special Education Service, which provides educational support to children with special needs. The remainder - $236.643 million - covers everything else: administering education regulations, administering the resources, making sure that school boards of trustees didn't spend all their money on a holiday on the Gold Coast, making sure that schools meet curriculum requirements and academic standards, answering Bill English's questions ($3.7 million worth!), planning, and policy advice. That's your education bureaucracy right there. Even if it was completely disestablished, it would save only 2.8% of the total education spend, or 6.7% of the amount we spend on schools - far short of the 33% shortfall estimated above.

Basically, Bill English's claim that culling "education bureaucrats" would result in significant funding increases at the frontline are simply a fantasy. The only way he can produce the required funding increases would be either to spend vastly more money (impossible given National's tax-cut plans), or dramatically slash capital and maintenance spending, and run the schools into the ground again - exactly as National did in the 90's.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news