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The Forum > Article Comments > Freedom of choice can only make it better > Comments

Freedom of choice can only make it better : Comments

By Kevin Donnelly, published 26/9/2006

Research reveals that parents across the income divide are keen on education vouchers.

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There are a number of issues Kevin conveniently overlooks. The first is that costs for government and non-government schools are not equal. The government system takes on a vastly disproportionate number of those students who are most expensive to educate - those in rural and remote locations, those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds etc. For example, most government education systems offer incentives to teachers to take up positions in really remote settings (e.g. moving costs, extra pay and leave) and these costs inflate the supposed average cost of educating a government school student. I suspect that the cost of government school education for a secondary student in an urban, middle-class setting (the types of settings from which private schools draw heavily) is much less than $11,000. So suggesting that private school parents are saving the state huge amounts of money is rather misleading.
He also fails to mention evidence from one of the largest experiments with school vouchers. A voucher system has been in place in Chile for almost 20 years now. The evidence is that it has drawn middle-class students out of state schools and residualised them, while education standards have remained exactly where they were (contrary to claims that market-based reform would raise them).
Posted by Robbie, Tuesday, 26 September 2006 10:16:37 AM
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Dr Donnelly knows that there are "still those who are committed to state control" of our schools, because he is one of them.

The self-appointed Grand Inquisitor of Australia's education system is being disingenuous when he lampoons others for their attachment to state controls, when so much of his public commentary is supportive of greater federal government control over what is to be taught in our schools, and how it is to be taught.

I have yet to hear what "choice" will remain to us when everybody is teaching out of the same federal-government-approved curriculum (teach it or else forget your funding).

The "school choice" question is a pea-and-thimble trick that shifts the political risk and accountability for public education away from politicians and onto parents. Why would governments bother to "fix" public education, when they can simply re-direct disgruntled parents with the chimerical "choice" to go through the private system, incurring great personal cost, and for which government can then wash their hands of accountability?

A voucher system effectively disenfranchises the tax-paying public of a means to hold the government to account for delivering quality public education. Parents would be better off tearing up their vouchers and insisting that their government do what their taxes are paying for: providing the world's best public education (we pay top dollar, after all!)

Nice trick; our taxes pay for both the public and a the majority of the private systems, but private systems claim 100% of the credit when they doing well, and aren't answerable for what they've done with our taxes if they do badly. Meanwhile, the public system is hung out to dry and anybody who isn't satisfied is simply told they have a "choice".

It seems the only choice our government wont consider is the choice to restore the public system to full health.
Posted by Mercurius, Tuesday, 26 September 2006 11:23:14 AM
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The first line of this article is the most flawed and demonstrates exactly what is wrong with education policy in this country.

'Imagine shopping at a supermarket, buying a car or choosing a holiday and being told that the only option you have is government-funded, designed and controlled'

EDUCATION IS NOT A COMMODITY

Education is fundamental to any advance in society, it is not a disposable household item, it is not an industry in the market place, it is the one thing that can prevent us from destroying ourselves and if we really valued it we would not even consider having a two tiered education system.

Proof the 2 tiered system dosn't work? 40 million illiterate Americans is proof enough for me.
Posted by Carl, Tuesday, 26 September 2006 1:34:06 PM
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Competition always works in favor of the consumer. It is a good motivation to know your customers have an alternative. We should not
be surprised when the monopoly does everything in it's power to
stifle competition.

Every student in logic know a mistake in the premise will show up in the conclusion. We are divided on what it means to be human.
If we are only a cosmic accident, a product of blind chance, a result of natural selection,
which is carefully defined by its proponents as both mindless and purposeless, we will have one view of "what works."

If we decide to view man as the work of a Creator who is both mindful and purposeful, we have a different approach.
I say we should let those who want to exclude God have their schools, and not permit them to deny us our schools.

Sounds fair to me.
Posted by ichabod, Wednesday, 27 September 2006 4:00:36 AM
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ichabod - here's a couple of reasons why it would be unwise to create a segragated education system:

The world is diverse - kids will be better prepared for adulthood if they are brought up in a diverse environment.

Kids integrate better than adults and mind difference less - again they will be better prepared for adulthood and less likely to fight over being different when they are adults.

Artificially giving a sense of being "superior" leads to facism. No master races here please.

ALL children will be the future, lets give ALL kids a good future.

Indoctrination is not education.
Posted by Kvin, Wednesday, 27 September 2006 7:58:35 AM
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Kevin's moved from being a right wing lobyist to a simple lair.
Posted by Kenny, Wednesday, 27 September 2006 9:13:08 AM
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