Rich parents using public schools

I imagine some in the private school system are getting a little worried, noticing that of the generation coming through now, very few will be able to own their own house, let alone afford to send their kids to “independent” schools. But they can hardly champion socially equitable policies to try to redress that growing gap. After all – it’s their current clients who are benefiting from it. So what to do? What to do?

I know! Let’s attack those parents wealthy enough to be potential clients but who refuse to be part of our special elitist system! Let’s demand that they pay a levy unless they join us. That’ll learn ’em (sorry, we’re grammar schools: that’ll teach them):

Dr Tim Hawkes, the principal of The King’s School in Sydney, has told a review of school funding that wealthy parents who send their children to public schools should pay a levy.

“There is a source of funds that has not yet been tapped and that is high-income families who are currently benefiting from ‘free’ state education,” Dr Hawkes has been quoted as saying in Fairfax newspapers.

(The ABC then says that this would “reportedly” also apply to families who send their kids to private schools, but that seems to completely contradict both Hawkes’ remarks and the Australian Education Union’s response, and other reports: I suspect they’ve got it wrong.)

There are some who think that the rich using public health and public education systems is something to be discouraged – that they’ve got the ability to pay for themselves, and by god they should. I disagree. The problem with that approach is that when they do, when they remove themselves from the public systems, then those systems wither. Without the patronage of the wealthy and powerful, they become second-class systems: whereas when all people, no matter the wealth, use the same hospitals, the same doctors, those people make damn sure they’re of a decent quality.

Naturally Dr Hawkes is in favour of a two-tier system – it’s how the King’s School is so absurdly luxurious. But it’s hardly something anyone with a sense of social justice would want to see entrenched further.

He’s quite right that the rich should be paying more – but it should be to general taxation revenue, and to fund the same services that are available to everyone.

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7 responses to “Rich parents using public schools

  1. hillbillyskeleton

    Also, could it not also be convincingly argued by the libertarian Dr Hawkes, that what these parents choose to do with their after-tax income, as it relates to their independant and individual decision to choose whether to send their children to a Public or a Private School, is entriely their to make, and should not have a financial penalty, or ‘levy’, imposed upon it? Especially when, those same parents have already paid a ‘levy’, called Income Tax, to fund those same Public Schools out of their pre-tax income.
    Someone should point this out to Dr Hawkws, and ask him why he is advocating double taxation? And only on Public School choice.

  2. hillbillyskeleton

    Bugger, no ‘Edit’ function! 🙂

  3. But! But! But! How are we going to train the next generation of the Born To Rule Overclass to think they are better than others if some rich parents send their kids to public school where they’ll find out that all people are the same? They may even find out that poor kids can be smart too, and then where would we be? It will lead to madness! Madness, I tell you!

    Hmmm … perhaps there is some local public school near King’s that is doing better in the My School scores, leading the principal to be afraid that more fee-paying parents will opt-out? May be worth checking out (I know little about the Syndey area or what schools are where).

  4. “The problem with that approach is that when they do, when they remove themselves from the public systems, then those systems wither. Without the patronage of the wealthy and powerful, they become second-class systems: whereas when all people, no matter the wealth, use the same hospitals, the same doctors, those people make damn sure they’re of a decent quality.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    If I were a billionaire I’d do a Paul McCartney, send my son to the local school, if the standard slipped I’d use my fame and fortune against the govt, I’d lobby them to lift their game.

    Shit, If I were Paul McCartney I’d write nasty songs about the govt. 🙂

  5. “I know little about the Syndey area or what schools are where”

    Whoops. This former private-school kid obviously didn’t get a good education if he can’t even spell Sydney. 🙂

  6. The private-school lobby are shameless, utterly shameless. I wish we had a Labor Party with the guts to take them on.

    I have a dream where a Labor government is elected promising to give all kids a first-class education. The Melbourne Grammars and the like scream like kids being dragged from a cake shop. The Labor PM makes a formal visit to the grounds of the affected schools. Has a good look at their “arts precinct” and their acres of sporting grounds and their rifle range and then addresses the press outside the school gates.

    “I had strong views about private schools when I was elected to office. Having seen first hand how these schools operate I have changed my mind,” she says. “I once thought that when every state school had classrooms that didn’t let in the rain we could give money to schools such as this. I now think that when state-school funding is around $25 000 per student then, and only then, shall a school such as this get any money from the taxpayers. Clearly $25 000 per student is what is required for an excellent education. That is what my government shall work toward.”

    Then the alarm goes off…

  7. Splatterbottom

    Unique: “perhaps there is some local public school near King’s that is doing better in the My School scores”

    There is – James Ruse is just up the road. Each year it has the best HSC results in the state. Clearly it is not better marks that drives parents to send their kids to private schools. It is a concern for the overall welfare of their children. Other parents make different judgments. Choice is a good thing.

    The worst possible outcome is a state run system dominated by teacher unions where their is no alternative available to parents. A voucher system deserves consideration as it allows market forces some scope to produce better outcomes.

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