Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Expose your Privates!

There has been a significant 'drift' towards private education in Australia. I'm not sure why because there isn't a huge 'class' system here but in my own area, private or 'independent' religious schools outnumber their state run counterparts. Today, a bill is being presented in Parliament that requires Private and Independent (read religious) schools to disclose their fund raising income.

As it stands now and in the true spirit of egalitarianism, every school receives the same amount of Government funding for each pupil. The difference is that Private Schools and Independent schools charge fees . .lots of them. A fully privatised school can demand as much as $5,000 per term per child (there are four terms in the Australian School Year). Independent schools charge around $800 per term then a diminishing amount for each sibling attending school.

Then there are the fundraisers. State Schools struggle with fetes and trivia nights, whilst Private and Independents seem to be better patronised with everything from Fetes, Auctions, Art Shows, Car Washes, Lamington or cake drives or these days, more and more sophisticated methods of raising funds to boost their facilities.

The conundrum here is that Private and Independents have never had to disclose their 'extra' income or where it is spent. Government schools must disclose any income received outside their Government funding.

Now before you label me a socialist ratbag, my two went to Catholic (independent) schools. I married a Catholic man and it was part of the deal that I raise any future children as such. I had no problem with this. Religion was a compulsory HSC subject but I was quite amazed with the diversity of 'religious' instruction they received. Questions in their exam papers were about the treatment of women in non-Christian religions, the comparison of Catholicism with other religions and why the sacraments were important. It was more of a general subject than pure indoctrination (they do that in Primary school).

The fund raising was horrendous. Everything from Chocolate drives, to art fairs, raffle tickets, car rallies, musicals, theatrical productions, cake stalls and language trip fund raisers. There was an incessant trail of 'give us your money' plus a Diocesan fee which went into a pool for various educational improvements for the the entire diocese.

So, my point, why are independent and private schools afraid of disclosing their income? Some fear a 'hidden agenda' by Government to cut their funding and given that we have a Labour Government, that's probably a valid concern. However, one rule for State and another for private seems very hypocritical to my view. I would like to think that the $15,000 - $20,000 per student, per year paid by parents to a private institution is leading to better resources, well stocked libraries, subsidised travel, high tech computer systems, more subject choice . . .but knowing how hard my sister has worked for her kid's Government funded primary school to install electronic white boards and new facilities, the inequality seems unfair.

. . does it really make a difference, I'd be interested to know. I'm a product of the State system . . my kids the product of the religious school system and my friends' kids are products of the expensive private system . . .does it make a difference? Is it money well spent?

Privates . . . expose yourselves! Declare your income and let's know EXACTLY where that cash is being invested. You do the maths. . . .elite school, 500 students, $20,000 a year per student . . plus a Government subsidy and frenetic fund raising on top of that! Where's the money going?

If I'm paying $20,000 a year to educate my kid, I want him to have the very best. I want more than a straw boater and a nice uniform. I want more than a 'good name'. I want the kid to receive a great education and I don't expect to have to buy a ticket in your chook raffle.


Anonymous said...

First to comment and probably not the first to point out that the title for this post is false advertising.

You shall be hearing from my blog lawyer.

Thriftcriminal said...

I went to boarding school in the 80's. As I understand it the fees all went on the boarding side of things while the school was funded by the state's contribution. To my mind that's equitable, the school is no different from any other, but the additional service of feeding, housing and disciplining the youngsters is charged for. Of course the arrangement was foisted upon the monks by the chap who gave them the land originally as he insisted they start a school(sister monastery in Tarrawarra BTW), there is a broad streak of social concience running through the place. Mind you charging fees and bunging rfund-raisers on top of that is a bit much. Pretty much every state school here has to run fundraising activities as the state gives them a pittance, it's a disgrace.

Susan at Stony River said...

Congratulations on all the hits you'll be getting today with that title...and please God, let nobody take you up on it.

I went to expensive private schools as a child, then sent my own children to State ones (because that's the only choice where we live). I had a great education, but looking at my friends and family, I don't see a direct correlation with good education v. success in life: many of us disappointed or overcame our expectations anyhow.

BUT, if I were paying $20,000 for my child's education WHEN a free State education was available, then I'd expect that school to be accountable to all its parents, for the money it spends. If they won't and the Government wishes to enforce that...well, call me a socialist ratbag too. The *parents* should know those details, as investors of money and more importantly, children.

TC's made a good point too: the book sales and raffle tickets and clothing drives from our State-funded school are constant, and the kids are being taught in a container and a shed, and their 'playground equipment' is a plastic football. ARGH. But we're lucky to have excellent teachers there and wonderful parents; it's a great school, just poorly-funded.

TCL said...

I went to boarding school in California and it was expensive. US$20,000 per annum and that was back in the early 1990s. Fundraising was non-stop back then and they still want money from me more than 17 years after my commencement.

One difference though, American privates don't get any state funding. They're entirely on their own.

Many American parents, especially those who live in large cities with inadequate public school systems, send their kids to privates to get a proper education and a safer environment. But I've plenty of uni friends who went to public primary and secondary schools and came out just fine.

Maxi is right. You've engaged in false advertisement. Perhaps I'll ring Maxi up and start a class action.

Moon said...

Interesting stuff... I am not sure if it makes a difference or not... I am one of 4 children, all went through a 'state' school... I am not too well educated, due to my lack of commitment, but in my brothers and susters, we have one Phd, one Degree, and one very smart arsed sister... so we all did ok... I believe, 'if' you are prepared to work, you can get what you want out of the normal school system ... but surely, the priviledged must have a better chance ??

Bear Naked said...

I agree with you.
If I am spending that much, they had better be able to account for every dollar.

Bear((( )))

Anonymous said...

British research shows that the type of school makes little difference to your future life achievements. The key factors are actually the parents' commitment to the child's success and the child's commitment to their own success. With those, the child will always do well. So forking out all that extra cash to go private is a big scam.

I got very mixed results from my private schools but Jenny's siblings, who both went to state schools, have done pretty well.

I don't see why private schools should get any state funding at all. And certainly they should have to disclose full details of their income.

Melissa said...

Great title, Baino! The girls went to private preschool and I'd love to send them through all their years, but we were torn between spending the money now and/or later for college. Charlotte says screw the whole idea and home school me, please. :D I think you should be able to see all elements of the finances, seeing as you're a part of the school's income and financial stability.

And! Happy happy She Came Home Day!! I almost cried seeing that photo of you hugging your girl. Sniff, sniff. :**)

Megan said...

Offspring's school kindly provides us with all the details of the budget. By far the hugest slice of the pie goes on teacher salaries (except for the Jesuits, of course, although they are very nicely fed and housed). Some of the costs are paid for by the endowment fund, but there are also auctions and 'the parent gift' and things of that sort.

I do know for certain he's getting a better education than he would in the public system...

laughingwolf said...


Miladysa said...

I went to eleven nurseries/schools/colleges/etc. Only the nursery school was private. My children like your own went/go to Catholic Schools.

Privates should be exposed.

One thing I can say is despite the research that Nick relates to education and advancement in the UK remains - by far - the privilege of the better off members of society.

Despite the rot we are fed qualifications are no measure of intelligence but they certainly lead to a healthier, wealthier and longer life in the majority of cases!

I am more than happy to be called a socialist ratbag ;D

Ces Adorio said...

I am with Maxi Cane. Throroughly misleading and I expected to be blushing while reading this post. Instead, another socio-political expose'. Expose the real privates.

Ces Adorio said...

I went to private and public schools. I also attended a private university for my pre-nursing courses and post graduate studies. I attended public primary and secondary schools. I also attended a state university and two Catholic universities. For a long time I had to stay in school because I graduated before the age of 21 and was not allowed to practice my profession. A lot has to do with the student's intelligence quotient and exposure to educational resources. Also, it makes a lot of difference if you have intelligent parents, who encourage and nurture critical thinking skills. I know so many people in America whose first language is not English but are more eloquent, have wider vocabulary, can spell better and know more about American and world history than most Americans born here and educated in private and public schools.

There is a difference between being schooled and being educated. I know several people with masters and doctorate degrees who can't speak well and work productively and competitively nor can they find jobs. America has many private and state diploma mills filled with liberal professors who brainwash the students.

Anonymous said...

$15,000 - $20,000 is low....I know of some private high schools like Newington Private Boys for one that is $40,000 a year!!!

What I'd like to know is why "private" schools are subsidised at all! All those government funds (in my humble opinion) should go to government schools. Do you know how much the government contributes each year for one student for primary school? $56.00

Unknown said...

Here public schools are quite rare. My school is "semi private". (it is public but it has a foundation)

Paddy in BA (Quickroute) said...

Great headline - google hits will surge! - public schools here have a better rep than private - I personally think it matters a great deal on how comfortable the student feels as to the results he / she achieves

Baino said...

Thanks for your observations folks. I think the consensus is that Private schools need to disclose income from fundraising! I'm all for corporate transparency!

TCL said...

Back I go back I go for more brainwashing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. The rant I wanted to have.

I'll put it another way also: If the school is taking my money (my tax $) without my consent, because the Federal Government gave it to them, then I think it only fair that they disclose all their income from all sources in the interests of transparency.

If they don't wish to disclose, they are quite free not to take my money, thanks.

Many, many organisations are held accountable when they take government money. I don't see why schools should be different.

(Arguments of history, and "I went to a XXX private school... blah blah blah, are not relevant, actually.)