Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Carpet Crawlers


The other day I visited a private school for the first time. To say it was interesting would be an understatement.
The first peculiar thing about this school that I visited was it being a girls only school. What twisted mind came up with that idea? It goes further, though. Oil paintings along the school hall portray the images of past and present principles. All of them, surprise surprise, women. I understand the need for corrective discrimination, but somehow I suspect this is not such a case; I suspect it is rather the very discrimination women constantly “enjoy” that got this particular private school to be the way it is.
Let me get back to those oil paintings. Yes, specially commissioned oil paintings line up the hall. Couple that with the squeaky clean carpet on the floor, and you could be mistaken into thinking you are actually visiting some sort of a museum. Those carpets, by the way, range across the school buildings and classes.
It made me wonder. Given all the grandeur and the elaborate settings, and given the contrast between those and the equivalent settings at my son’s state school (which, as state schools go, is a well off one), please regale me with the following: why does even 1c of public funding go towards the financing of this private school?

The point is worth considering given Australia’s current setting. All we hear about in the financial news are budget deficits and the various austerity measures planned in response (coming from a Liberal government elected primarily for its self-alleged financial prowess). One of the more clever ways this government of ours is seeking to cover up the deficit is by hitting the weaker ones with a mallet: while everyone was focused on Holden closing down, our beloved government snuck the news it is going to cancel the pay rises it promised aged care and childcare employees. Because, of course, these people are already earning too much money.
Have no fear, the well off are not to be harmed. They will be able to continue sending their children to carpet laden private schools where can admire their self commissioned oil paintings at the tax payers' expense.

The above photo is not an image of a private school, though it is not far from it


Uri said...

I don’t get why the government should spend money on private schools either. Do you know how much is being spent?

Moshe Reuveni said...

There are several issues with me providing a proper answer here:
1. There is a deliberate attempt to make the matter as non-transparent as possible. Check this official website for an example:
2. There are changes to the financing model. In the early 2000’s the Liberals implemented a policy that allocates money according to school area’s affluence. The more affluent the area, the more funding it got (you’re reading it correctly) under the assumption the cost of living is higher. Labor implemented a review called Gonski last year to make allocation fairer, but the new Liberal government is working to change that. There was public outcry, so at this stage no one knows where things are heading.
3. I am biased. Regardless of the matter of funding, I am against private schools because I consider their very existence divisive. They create a tiered society based on demography (both socio economic and religious).

So it’s hard for me to point you to a reliable source that would tell you exactly how much money goes where. However, articles such as this ( indicate a public school student is funded at about $10,000 a year. From what I can gather here and there, private school students are generally getting less but not much less: figures I have seen range from $4K to $7K. It also depends on whether the school is private private or Catholic Private, with different funding agreements per type.
Bottom line: Funding varies a lot, but private schools are funded almost as much as public schools through Australian tax payers’ money.