Wanganui Collegiate should go it alone

Last updated 10:40 09/03/2009

Last week Wanganui Collegiate approached the government to explore the possibility of integrating into the public education system. Like some other private schools it has been struggling in recent years with lower student enrolments and rising operating costs.

With the economy failing the private sector once more has its hand out for the state to bail it out. It is following a well worn path as hundreds of schools have integrated since the third Labour government introduced this as an option back in the 1970s.

Initially Catholic schools led the way as they faced economic collapse. Labour obliged and legislation allowing for integration was passed. All governments since have supported the regular integration of private schools.

A private school which integrates with the public school system has all its teacher salaries and day to day operating expenses paid by the government but it retains ownership of the school land and buildings and retains its “special character”. In theory the school trades its right to charge private school fees and its right to pick and choose students for government payment of everything except the upkeep of school buildings and new building developments.

In practice however many private schools have maintained their exclusivity by maintaining exorbitant building fees so that unlike state schools they are not open to enrolment by anyone but those able to pay. They essentially remain private schools but with full government funding for day-to-day operations.

In short integration has become a scam. In the case of Catholic schools the building fees have been kept lower by sweetheart deals with the government whereby the state effectively pays for all new building development through suspended loans and the like. Former education minister Trevor Mallard tried regularising this a few years back by proposing to bring integrated schools more formally into the public school system. Many Catholics were so outraged that Mallard backed off quickly.

But why should the state fund the day-to-day operations of private or integrated schools which pick and choose between students and continue to charge large fees to keep the riff-raff out?

The government should reject Wanganui Collegiate’s application to integrate unless the school can promise zero fees to parents and assure us they will accept all applications to enrol on the same basis as any public school.

Taxpayers already spend $40 million each year subsidising private schools and John Key has promised to raise this to $70 million. Kings College, where Key is a parent, will benefit by well over an extra million dollars on top of the almost two million it receives this year.

Private schools are more about social or religious cleansing than educational standards. The state should leave them to do their own thing but without public money.

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Alan Wilkinson   #1   12:26 pm Feb 23 2009

I agree integrated schools are a political/religious scam introduced simply to buy support from Labour's Catholic voting base.

All private schools should be treated equally - and funding directed to children via educational vouchers as in Sweden allowing equal access to quality education for everyone.

Ben   #2   12:42 pm Feb 23 2009

The top state schools such as Auckland Grammar also 'keep the riff-raff out' since the parents of the 'riff-raff' as you put it generally cannot afford the house prices in the school zone.

I choose to send my son to an independent school because I know he receives a better education than he would in the local state schools; it is nothing to do with social or religious cleansing.

I assume by keeping the 'riff-raff' out you equate the term with lack of money and in doing so you expose your own bigotry. There is plenty of 'riff raff' with money who pay to send their offspring to independent schools. Fortunately independent schools have the power to get rid of disruptive students, whether or not they are 'riff raff'.

The school to which I send my son takes children for all walks of life including those of parents who struggle to pay the fees. Like many such schools it helps those who cannot affford the fees. You just want to reduce everuything to the same lowest common denominator - Soviet Bloc grey, although even in the Soviet bloc they had special schools for those not considered 'riff raff'.

corey s   #3   01:06 pm Feb 23 2009

Surprisingly i agree with much of Mr Minto's comments. Under the current system it is a bit rich to expect funding without strings attached. What this opens is the wider issue of eductaion funding. As a country we need to decide if educating our young is important, and if so to what level should that funding extend. I am a personal fan of an education voucher system. Eg the government of the day chooses (by what ever means they like) the cost per year to fund a child thru school. I acknowledge that this value may change dependant on the age of the child.

Once this amount has been established a parent can choose to take their voucher and enrol their child where ever they like, private, public, religeous etc provided that the school meets an agreed eductaion standard and level of reporting. The scholls can redeam their vouchers with the education ministry for the equivilant in funding.

Does it really matter where a child is educated so long as education take place?

The current zoning situation has distorted house pricing in many cities, and failed to deliver an education system that benefits the very young it is supposed to.

Give parents choice, make schools accountable for the results they deliver and give our children a future that we can be proud of.

just my opinion.

Ben   #4   03:13 pm Feb 23 2009

Alan and Corey, I think you might find that vouchers would be anathema to Minto and friends. Any form of choice is anathema to the political left (except for the members of the Politburo). Mr Minto would like one class of school and parents and children in a particular area would have no choice.

For that matter I have no confidence that vouchers would do anything to change educational inequalities. As Mr Minto so delightfully puts it, the most favoured schools would still find a way to 'keep out the riff raff'.

Kevin Campbell   #5   07:49 pm Feb 23 2009


I disagree with you a whole pile because you are closed minded, lacking in lateral thinking and generally bigoted if it isnt a selfish socialist idea.

The Wanganui Collegiate parents pay twice for the opportunity to send their children to that private school. Once in their taxes and once again in their school fees. At the very least the parents should have tax deductibility for their school fees because they are taking pressure off the public school system.

I laugh at people scoffing at "vouchers" as though it implies someone is giving parents a substandard hand out. The schools choice system the ACT party offers is infinitely better and more effective than the current public decile disaster. Parents choose and pay with their own money they are entitled to.

Each child is granted a scholarship fund that follows him/her through school and is inflation adjusted. If a parent, rich or poor, wants to send their child to a private or public school it is their choice. Choice is good and even great when a bureaucrat or politician isnt involved.

Private schools get to hire the best teachers, not be part of the PPTA, can be any size classroom, be anywhere and offer special teaching (i.e. music, sports, gifted, arts, problem youth). As long as the school is accredited to teach they can teach a child.

If the whole education system was privately run it in a competitive market it would be highly cost effective and a truly magnificent country of educated people before long.

Every school would have to compete for students, the best teachers, children that are disruptive would be cautioned and turfed out if they caused issues for other students. No more decile garbage and no more class selective zoning.

What a crap system we have now.

Alan Wilkinson   #6   08:57 pm Feb 23 2009

Obviously Swedish parents disagree, Ben, since their support for vouchers forced even their socialist government to retain them - totally against their totalitarian principles.

John B   #7   07:46 am Feb 24 2009

I'm so pleased I don't live in John's world. It seems so depressing and bland with everyone obliged to limit themselves to the level of the useless so as not to offend them. Its a life that reminds me of the cabbage my mother cooked - colourless, tasteless and limp. Until I left home I didn't know cabbage could be green, sweet and crisp. Cheer up John, the worst is yet to come.

corey s   #8   01:01 pm Feb 24 2009

Alan and Kevin here here!

lalaland   #9   02:21 pm Feb 24 2009

Please could we get rid of this lie promulated by the ACT Party that Sweden has vouchers so all would be well if that's what we did. For start they are taxed at something like 60% so all schools are well funded - something we don't have here - and secondly it's not open slather. Schools have to take ALL kids who enrol - they can't use the voucher to exclude the children of poor parents which is exactly what private schools and many integrated schools do here. How popular would Kings be if all the "riff raff" from Otara rolled up there and asked to be enrolled? They are exactly the sorts of kids that parents send their children to private schools to get away from! Yes - let's have vouchers but make it totally fair; otherwise all we've got is more of this tiresome whining from the middle class because they think they are entitled to a disproportionate share of tax benefits. And that's pretty rich considering the lengths they go to to avoid paying any tax at all. There's some crisp, green and sweet hypocrisy for you.

Paul O'Donnell   #10   02:25 pm Feb 24 2009

Obviously John never taught commerce or maths. If all the private schools closed and sent their children to state schools the state education system would collapse not only financially but also in terms of accommodating the students. The lower decile schools already receive additional funding for very little tangible return to the tax payer. Yet schools which year in year out achieve excellent results are subsidised by parents. I went to a ctholic school when it was private and we had nothing. My child goes to an integrated school because of the values they teach that people like John Minto have fought so hard to eradicate from our society with the results that we dismay over. Its about choice John. For nine years Labour prejudiced against families on above the community wage. The trouble is John you are arrogant enough to think you know best but without the intelligence to realise that you are more often than not wrong. This is an another example that you prove just how dangerously out of touch you are. My suggestion is instead of chasing windmills as you did in 1981 when you betrayed every decent law biding Kiwi and try to achieve something worth while. Or better still find the rock you crawled under after 1981.

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