Australian Politics 2015-02-08 15:51:00

Does a private school education justify the extra money that it costs?

This is pretty hokey data below — of the sort we expect from Leftists.  Not mentioned below is the sample in which State schools did better than private schools. If we dig, however, we find that “out of the 60 most advantaged schools in the state, public schools scored above 90 in 38 per cent of their exams, on average, while the rate was 26 per cent in private schools”.  So the figures do not derive from an overall  public/private comparison at all but rather from a very limited comparison of a small and select number of schools.  And it is highly likely that the “advantaged” State schools had similar amenities and offerings to the private schools.  The parent and citizen committees would be very active in such schools.  So the comparison tells us very little.

And note that the unmentionable is a factor.  The second highest performing school, James Ruse state school, is overwhelmingly Chinese and we all know what a difference that makes.  See here, for instance.   So once again, the study is shallow.

The one thing the figures do tell us is the key role of the students rather than the school.  It’s who your fellow students are that matters most.  Children from successful families are probably going to be more advantageous classmates in many ways  — less disruptive etc.  So getting your kid into a “good” (affluent) school (private or public) is important if only because of the fellow students there.  And “good” state schools are few in many parts of Australia.  So there is good reason not to gamble on a State education.

The authors below in fact acknowledge that.  They say: “The substantial contribution to their success is the capacity and background of the kids they enrol. Almost 90 per cent of the schools which topped the HSC last year were also the most advantaged schools in NSW, showing social class is a far stronger indicator of how a school will rank than the quality of teaching.”

And, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago: “In choosing your son’s school, you are choosing his friends for life.  Except for the army, men rarely make new friends far into adulthood, and even if they do, their old school friends will still usually predominate in their friendship circle.  So choosing a school is choosing a lot for a son.  What sort of friends do you want  your son to have?  He will tend to have smarter and more socially competent friends if you send him to a private school.  And if you send him to a sink school ….”

The state’s expensive private schools are spending $3.3 billion more on their students each year than equally advantaged public schools, despite achieving the same academic results, a new report has found.

This excess cash is more than the total amount spent annually in the 600 most disadvantaged schools in the state, where critics argue the money would be better spent.

The analysis is the latest in a series by researchers Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd that examines data from the My School website.

They found private and Catholic schools are investing significantly more money per student than public schools. Yet, when comparing schools with similar students, they are achieving similar or worse results.

Among moderately advantaged schools, for example, public schools spent $10,932 per student on average in 2012, the most recent data available.

Yet, to achieve similar results, Catholic schools spent an extra $588 per student and independent schools spent $1389 per student more, much of which comes from school fees.

Among the most advantaged schools, the average spend per student was up to $22,000 in private schools, more than double that spent on similar public school students.

When looking at all schools across the state, the excess money spent on students who achieve the same results as their cheaper public school equivalents was $520 million in the Catholic system and $2.77 billion among independents.

The executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, Geoff Newcombe, would not respond to Fairfax Media’s questions except to say “analysis of this type is ideologically driven and has no useful educational purpose”.

A spokesman for the federal education minister, Christopher Pyne, said increased money was allocated to disadvantaged schools under the needs-based model introduced in 2014.

Tim Hawkes, the headmaster of The King’s School, published an article on his website last week in defence of spending money on a private education.

“Most parents I speak to are looking for a great exam performance in year 12. But, this is only part of what they are looking for,” he said. “They are also wanting a school that pays a lot of attention to values, that advances a faith position, that has a strong co-curricular offering, that offers boarding, that has strong accountability.”


Prayers for Tony

Hi friends,

Tony Abbott is at Mass each morning in Canberra and has his rosary in his pocket, clearly saying the prayers of the rosary. If Turnbull gets in we will have someone who supported IVF, Gay Marriage and calls himself Catholic.

I think that there is a collective ADHD in society at present where people cannot utter a principle, let alone act according to one. There is a milling about for novelty and new ‘policies’ and not much thought put into it. I think any leader would find it hard to tone down the restless troops given the ties.

Let us pray for Tony Abbott as – the other options are pretty awful. Please send on this request to friends and ask for rosaries for Tony. And you don’t have to be a Catholic to pray.

God bless

From an email forwarded by my Toowoomba correspondent

UPDATE:  The rosaries seem to have worked

South Australia wants to go nuke

And it’s a Labor party government pushing it

SOUTH Australia will hold a Royal Commission to investigate the state’s possible role in the production of nuclear power.

PREMIER Jay Weatherill said South Australians should be given the opportunity to consider the practical, financial and ethical issues raised by a deeper involvement in the nuclear industries.
“We are home to one of the largest uranium deposits in the world and after more than 25 years of uranium production, it is now time to engage in a mature and robust conversation about South Australia’s future role in the nuclear industry,” he said on Sunday.

He said the Royal Commission was the first of its kind in Australia, as they usually looked backwards at things that had gone wrong.

It will explore the opportunities and risks of the state’s involvement in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

“Royal Commissions are a trusted and reliable means to establish the facts with which the people of South Australia can engage in this important debate.”  Independent experts would also be engaged to help in the commission’s work.

“We need a clearer understanding of the world’s demand and use of nuclear energy,” he said.  “We also need a deeper understanding of our state’s and the nation’s energy needs and how they are likely to develop in the future.

“This Royal Commission will also look at the opportunities and risks associated with this sector.  “Some people describe the potential economic benefits as enormous while others describe the risks as unacceptable.”

Consultation on the form of the Terms of Reference will begin on Monday and the Royal Commissioner will be appointed soon.

Liberal leader Steven Marshall said the premier’s announcement was a distraction, although the opposition supported the inquiry which was in line with its stated position before last year’s SA election.

Business SA welcomed the Royal Commission, saying the organisation had previously called for a “mature debate” of the nuclear energy industry in SA.

“WE have almost 25 per cent of the world’s uranium so there is a huge economic potential for SA that could be a ‘game changer’,” said CEO Nigel McBride


Don’t pour funding into the leaky child care bucket

ideas-2The Prime Minister’s speech at the National Press Club this week was meant to set the tone for government policy in 2015. The speech contained some discussion of the  government’s so-called ‘families package’, including the fact that the policy focus, and funding as well, will shift from paid parental leave to childcare.

This is a mixed blessing. My colleague Matthew Taylor this week explained why Abbott’s pet PPL scheme is best buried, but the danger lies in the instinct to direct the additional taxpayer’s money into a childcare system which is broken.

A promising sign is that Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has rightly compared childcare rebates to the First Home Owner’s Grant. Childcare subsidies simply push up prices (since providers will continue to charge what the market will bear) and do nothing to improve issues of affordability and access. Morrison is also right to point out that the workforce participation effect of this extra spending has been minimal.

The only way to increase supply and exert downward pressure on costs is to promote competition in the childcare sector. One way to do this is to remove barriers to entry that restrict new entrants into the market.

Unfortunately, government policy continues to head in the opposite direction. The latest attempt to crack down on so-called ‘dodgy’ family day care providers will only exacerbate the chronic national shortage of child care places. Unsurprisingly, established players like this idea.

An alternative approach is for the government to take a step back from the Gillard-era national standards which require ever-more highly trained staff and lower staff-to-child ratios. My research has shown that the evidence simply does not back up the ‘quality’ arguments used to justify the new regulations.

The Productivity Commission has also pointed to areas such as council zoning restrictions and onerous reporting requirements that inhibit growth in the number of childcare places and can compromise service quality.

Childcare is a complex policy area that involves all three levels of government, and it is clear that the whole system needs fixing. Simply fiddling around the edges with a boosted subsidy scheme is not an option. If more funding is devote to childcare without structural reform, this will be like pouring water into a leaky bucket.