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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Australian education system question

Okay, so, I read in the papers last week that private schooling is climbing up to be as much as $20,000 per child per year in this country. This particular article was about how this is increasingly putting pressure on families and is being linked to causes of depression and divorce rates amongst parents.


Now, I got to thinking...

...although homeschooling in this country, on the average, is quite rare, a couple of families of like-aged kids could pool their money together and privately employ a teacher for that kind of money, at home, and thus - perhaps - save themselves on other overheads like transport, uniforms, etc. The teacher-student ratio for one would be dramatically reduced.

Or am I being too simplistic? Would that kind of scenario even be legal?

Can you tell I'm starting to freak out about the whole 'school thing'? I have to say, living in the city, I guess I am lucky to have so many more choices for the kids than, say, in the town where I grew up. There was public, public, public. With one Catholic primary school. But I went to the public. And my memories of it are that it was a pretty excellent place.

What do you think of the whole debate? (PLEASE, I know this is a passionate subject for some people. Beat your chest if you will, but please also be respectful!)

Comments on "An Australian education system question"


Anonymous Shelly said ... (8:59 am) : 

Perhaps I am being simplistic too but when we were at public primary school 20 years ago Labor was sitting in Federal Government and Labor I believe traditionally is much more inclined to throw decent funding towards the public education system unlike the liberals who seem to be private, private, private. Combined with the fact that we were in an area that also (most likely but I can't confirm) received extra funding due to the high aboriginal population and I think that my public school was better off than it might otherwise be. My uncle who teaches at a public primary school has a picture of Gough Whitlam up in his house as he so reveres his work with Labor in public education (particularly his uni reforms in the 70's). I also remember primary school as being excellent but perhaps this is why.
p.s. In case anyone else is wondering, I am a teacher myself. This is a particular political area that I take a lot of interest in.


Anonymous Izzy said ... (9:24 am) : 

I think your idea of hiring a teacher is awesome. When you're paying 20k per year, per child, one teacher's salary plus benefits divided up amongst a handful of families seems like the deal of the century.


Blogger Miss Frou Frou said ... (10:01 am) : 

I too was a public school kid... in a lower class neighbourhood to boot.. and can remember the Whitlam 'Carmel' grants to provide resources to the school. My high school got funding to buy books for the library and had the unique idea of taking us kids into bookshops in the city and each of us got to pick a book - working on the premise that if we picked them, we'd read them - it worked.

I agree with Shelly, the lack of funding into the public sector over the last decade has seen the push towards private... why should you have to pay $20K per year per child for your child to get a decent education... is that not a right that should be afforded to all of us. I don't have kids in schools, but certainly the public high school my nephews went to had a fantastic school program and an excellent academic record.


Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said ... (12:29 pm) : 

shelly - good points. I hadn't thought of that. I always wondered why we seemed to have excellent school supplies when in other more urban schools, I've seen far less.

Izzy- thanks for your comment. It's a sad state of affairs over here. I'd like to know what's the situation in US.

miss frou frou - you said: "why should you have to pay $20K per year per child for your child to get a decent education"

Amen!! That's EXACTLY what I'd like to know!


Anonymous kailani said ... (2:40 pm) : 

I recently posted a similar discussion on my blog regarding sending my daughter to a not so great school in our district or lying to get her into a better school district.

Private school here is about $15,000/year. Yikes! My sister had to sell herh house and move into a smaller apartment to afford her daughter's tuition. I'm not sure I'd go that far!l


Anonymous Liz said ... (6:30 pm) : 

My basic belief about schooling is that it is a social process. You don't send children to school just for the academic side of things, most of us could teach our children basic literacy and numeracy. But you can't beat a school playground for social interaction with children of a variety of ages, cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. It is here that I believe that schooling is an important part of a child's social development. And unfortunately many children would not get that social interaction outside of school as Australia in general is pretty individualistic, not strong in community ties. Okay, off my soapbox now: I'm continuing to enjoy your blog Karen, you're doing good!


Blogger jeanie said ... (8:16 am) : 

I am a believer in fixing the school in place if at all possible. It is a grand idea but I am pretty sure that there would be some severe bureaucratic hurdles to overcome.

A girlfriend of mine lives in a remote location and home schools her 4 children - there are some people in her school of the air "classroom" who are doing so with up to 7 children - so there is probably a site or number to find out the details.

The weirdest thing for me when we started school was all these children who had never been socialised - truly scary. I am not sure if it was cases of families being a bit antisocial or whether the children had displayed such and therefore the family had not engaged, but OMG there are some fixer uppers - that being said there are also a lot of wonderful people to meet through schools.

I had no choice but to go private for my high schooling - we were too remote for public high school. The primary I attended was 20-30 students and 2 teachers - I remember all facilities were made by the very active P&C - nowadays that is not possible due to bureaucracy and standards and the P&C have to fund so much more - and the parents have to fund the school paper supplies.

Oh - and our area was not a labour stronghold and in Queensland the State School system is funded indirectly by federal but directly by the State Government (in those days Joh) - so the only bonus we ever received from the Gough years was we got a half day one November to go home and watch the tele because something interesting was happening - I just remember it was extremely hot on the bus ride home (1 hour mid summer vinyl seats) but apparently that was the day Kerr sacked him.


Blogger Sueblimely said ... (6:05 am) : 

I strongly agree with Liz about the socializing aspects of school and I am not sure the methods used by home schoolers to try to overcome the isolation from peers is enough. Occasional contact with others does not compare to the learning experience gained by having day to day interaction and the challenges that can bring.

My two oldest are in tertiary education now. My son who went to a local high school and daughter who went to a girls catholic school excelled. I chose both schools because they were relatively small and I wanted them to be faces not numbers. I have never regretted this decision. Small state schools are much harder to find here in Melbourne 10 years on unfortunately.


Anonymous Sarah said ... (6:38 pm) : 

Its a toughie. Both my hubby & I are products of the public education (and he didnt go past year 10), and he now runs a successful business, and I like to think that I am pretty well educated. My oldest starts school next year, and we are sending him to the local public. I just dont see how at age 5, there is much difference in the education they recieve. I also believe that the govt puts too much money towards provate schools...Kings school here in Sydney gets one of the highest amts apparently, and it is also the most exclusive and most expensive. Parents are paying gerzillions of dollars, and the govt is kicking in quite a bunchtoo. Why arent the public schools, who have do scrimp and save to get basics like water tanks, getting more funding. Rant rant rant!


Anonymous Anne said ... (2:45 pm) : 

Speaking as a teacher, I think this is a marvellous idea! Smaller class sizes, more flexibility in teaching, in hours, class time could be structured around the needs of the parents rather than being locked into a 9-3...I think it is a master stroke.


Anonymous Squadron said ... (9:20 pm) : 

Don't assume that because you pay the big bucks, your kids will get a good education. It's often just luck of the draw with schools and teachers.

The hire-a-teacher for home thing may work, but it would depend on the state laws. Send a letter to your eduction department and ask (and then share the answer with us all :)

I have two sons. One goes to a private catholic school, the other goes to a state primary school. We love both schools.

The fact that you care enough to raise this topic means that whatever choice you make will be the right one.

For more details on what choices really make a difference to schooling success, pick up a copy of Freakonomics from your library and read chapter 5.


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