Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A bigot on private education

Catherine Deveny is more than usually prejudiced in today’s Age. Her claim: It is wrong for government to provide any funding for private schools . Parents wanting to give their children a private education should pay for it 100% themselves. Moreover, Deveny claims it should be compulsory for politicians to send their children to public schools and to only use public health care.

Would the latter be enforced by law?

The rants of this foolish woman would increase per capita education costs in the public system since private school contributions by parents substantially cross-subsidize such costs and large numbers of private school students would join the public schools with such a policy. On the basis of providing a better quality public education system with given public resources, there is a case for a public contribution to the private schools.

There is also the view that parents might not wish to have the educational choices they make for their children entirely determined by governments. Deveny takes the opposite view - 'one size suits all' for education and that size should be entirely publicly-produced. It is not only a foolish view given its economic implications, it has dubious moral implications as well.

There is so much stupidity in the Age these days that I usually just ignore it. Deveny's piece was so foolish I felt I had to respond.


Mike said...

Despite being a big fan of the public school system, and also being of the opinion that funding arrangements should be changed, I also found Catherine's piece entirely unhelpful.

If you're not going to recommend something to fix things (i.e. boosting the image of public schools, improving the quality of teaching, reducing class sizes, etc) other than just saying "Don't send your kids there you idiot snobbish parents" or "Don't give those schools money you stupid government those rich people don't deserve a single cent" [not direct quotes, but certainly the gist of the piece] you're hardly going to move the debate in a productive direction.

If anything you're likely to alienate those people making the decision to send their kids to a private school at the margin, struggling to put their kids through private school because they believe the cost is worth it.

Telling them they don't deserve funding for their kids or that they should just shut up and put their kids in a public school is never going to lay the foundation for productive debate and a change in current policy/popular opinion.

If you want to convince parents at the margin to send their kids to government schools, better (and admittedly harder) to make arguments about the long run benefits of reinforcing public education and providing a wider range of options for students within the public system.

Anonymous said...

I had a quick look at the piece and didn't get past the first page on the website.

It is a shame that the age tolerates a lower level of analysis on its op-ed pages than it does for AFL. I've seen other columns (briefly) by Deveney and it wouldn't pass in the AFL pages.
Columnists such as Jake Niall write much better pieces than this.

Joshua Gans said...

I agree with you Harry. Good gried

Anonymous said...

Matthew Gentzkow's work on media slant suggests that The Age publishes this stuff because it believes readers are receptive to it (or like other features like the AFL coverage (Harry?))


Guy said...

I agree entirely with Mike's comment.There's no point being so divisive over something so important.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

I don't read Deveny just as I don't read Bolt.

But. I have never seen a convincing case for any taxpayers $ to go to private schools.

Sure if you stopped it tomorrow there might be a bit of an influx into already overstretched public schools, but thats just a transition cost. The majority of private school users woul djust fork out the extra and whinge a bit more. After all the main value of the private system is the value extracted from the sunk costs of infrastructure, social networking (for example Gosper mum and dad casually ringing the VC of Melbourne and getting the rules changed for their son)and perceived branding.

chrisl said...

Harry What is your answer to the kids from poorer areas who only have access to lower performing schools? Some of these schools are third world compared to private schools.As the best way out of poverty is a good education, it doesn't promise much hope for these kids.

hc said...

FXH, The case is twofold. People who send their kids to private schools pay most of the costs. If they were part oof the public system government taxes would be more stretched. Also it is a matter of liberty - there should be some choice.

FXH and Chrisl, The separate issue is to upgrade the public schools an issue I strongly support. I live in an area where most of the public schools are reasonably well equipped.

This is not about giving less to public schools. These schools get more if some parents send their kids to private schools and pay most of their tuition costs.

chrisl said...

Harry The dice is loaded against poorer public schools
Good areas attract good families that help make good schools,attracting $$$ and fee paying overseas students thus attracting good families.
I propose schools are ranked from worst to best and extra money allocated accordingly!

Guido said...

I wouldn't take Ms. Deveney comments seriously. She's there to be an agent provocateur, a shit stirrer or in internet parlance a WUM (wind up merchant).

Despite he rantings I hope she continues at the Age. She is the left wing equivalent of all those rabid right wing commentators such as Andrew Bolt.

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