The lady doth protest too much

The poor elite private schools. Not actually poor, we now know better how much money their students have, but unfortunate.

Well, not unfortunate as in hard-done-by, actually they are quite fortunate. I think I mean that they get a bad rap by society… oh crap, I give up. They’re a pack of entitled whingers.

SMH reports responses from the sector on changes to the way that the My School website reports the relative socio-economic disadvantage across schools. Apparently they feel that broad and distorting collection areas are the only legitimate means of collecting the data.

Any researcher being honest will tell you that more granular data would be appropriate for this purpose.

Hilary Johnston-Croke, principal of Kincoppal-Rose Bay School called the changes aberrant, and is also quoted saying that ”It doesn’t give you a great deal of confidence in the process,’‘.

Tim Hawkes, the headmaster of the King’s School in Parramatta, is quoted stating that ‘‘It is a convoluted score which is not well understood,“.

Well, they would say that. The previous formulas artificially lowered the incomes of rich families that live in poor regional areas. This happens to be the same formula that is currently used by the Commonwealth Government to distribute funding to private schools.

Interesting that the funding system is currently under review, and that possibility of using the new My School data is likely the key to the protests. As Tim Hawkes goes on to say:

‘There is also the possibility in future years of [Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage] scores influencing such things as funding.

”This is why the predictable opponents of independent schooling, like Chris Bonnor, get excited when the scores of many independent schools go up and those of many government schools go down.”

Well may a seasoned public education advocate such as Chris Bonner get excited about the potential re-balancing of funding from private schools to public schools. Not as a principle of opposition to private schools, but as a matter of equity.

Why many private schools receive more public funding from the Commonwealth than public schools is beyond me. Well… not really. I understand that it is a product of the wealthy having undue influence over school funding. But from a public policy view-point, it makes no sense.

As I see it, if parents choose to leave the publicly provided schooling system, all the best to them. But let them fund that choice themselves.

The only reason that a private school should receive public funding is if that school is providing schooling to students that do not otherwise have access to public schooling (i.e. in some regional or other low-density areas), or if they are offering alternative pedagogies that might add to the suite of education tools available to the public sector over time.


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