Why I don’t like government subsidy of private education

Because, as shown in the Gonski report (and reported on the excellent Global Mail), it’s not effective.

Private schools perform better than state schools because they cherry-pick students – by and large, they reject problem students or students with higher educational needs. This gives them a more capable student base – so naturally they will receive higher scores on average. But that’s not a good measure – the correct measure is how well do those students improve, compared to similar students in the state system. Thanks to longitudinal studies such as the NAPLAN tests, we have an answer – students in the private system, on average, demonstrate no significant difference in performance. All that money – both public funding and the fees levied on parents – tossed away for no benefit over state schools.

(Yes, there are some schools that do cater to students who are educationally difficult – Montessori schools in particular are known for this. But they aren’t the rule in private schools – most private schools pride themselves on strict discipline and regimen – the opposite of a Montessori school)

I showed in an earlier post that the Catholic school system costs three times as much per student (by their own figures, taken from the website for the NSW Catholic Schools association). But it doesn’t deliver any additional value, let alone three times as much. While, as a nation, we should allow private education for those who insist on it, there isn’t any reason to toss public money on an inefficient system.

We, as a country, are literally pissing away the future by underinvesting and incorrectly investing in the education of our children. Instead of subsidising private education, how about we ensure that the public system provides good education for all students?

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Author: Robert Watkins

My name is Robert Watkins. I am a software developer and have been for over 18 years now. I currently work for people, but my opinions here are in no way endorsed by them (which is cool; their opinions aren’t endorsed by me either). My main professional interests are in Java development, using Agile methods, with a historical focus on building web based applications. I’m also a Mac-fan and love my iPhone, which I’m currently learning how to code for. I live and work in Brisbane, Australia, but I grew up in the Northern Territory, and still find Brisbane too cold (after 16 years here). I’m married, with two children and one cat. My politics are socialist in tendency, my religious affiliation is atheist (aka “none of the above”), my attitude is condescending and my moral standing is lying down.

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