Government funding of Private Schools versus Public Schools

Adelaide, Australia
January 13, 2011 6:35pm CST
This is an ongoing debate here in Australia. Some argue "how can we call private schools "private" when they receive more government (public) funding than public schools?". The argument follows that if anything receives government funding, it should no longer be considered private. The thing is that for every dollar the government puts into private schools, it actually makes money from that, but funding public schools can equate to throwing money into a bottomless pit. Meanwhile, public schools tend to be of very poor quality, both in educational opportunities, infrastructure, socially & in employers & higher education institutes opinions. How is the situation in your country? Should private schools be funded by businesses or should they be more self-funding these days? Should students be treated & funded equally no matter which system they choose?
5 responses
@RawBill1 (8541)
• Gold Coast, Australia
5 Feb 11
Sorry I am late to this one. Still trying to catch up on the emails from my time away. Yeah, I am not really a fan of private schools getting funding. The fees that are incredibly large at some of the local ones here should be more than enough to keep the school going strongly. I think the public schools should be getting more support. They and the community that go to these schools need the assistance more. I also think that students should be treated and measured equally regardless of the school that they went to. All my school years were at public schools. There were no private primary schools in my town so I had to go public and just stayed that way through secondary school as well until I left at 15. There was no way that I would have been sent to a private school anyway if there was one nearby. (which there was later when I was in secondary school) My kids started school at an independent private school and it was a horrible experience for us and my daughter in particular. We changed over to a country public school and have been really happy with them. They have great values and are a highly respected school throughout the Gold Coast. But they do not get enough government assistance. Luckily there is a strong community at the school so they have their own fund-raising group that is like a sub committee from the more formal P & C committee. They raise the extra funds that the government do not give them.
• Adelaide, Australia
7 Feb 11
Hope you're getting closer to "catching up". I was saving this discussion for you. Sorry to hear about your family's bad experiences with private schools. I chose to go to the same one my mates went to for high school (a 90 minute bus ride until my final two years of school where I went boarding to get more time to study harder). That's a good idea to have a separate committee to raise extra funds. I can remember supporting several fund-raising events throughout each school year. I don't know what the best answer is. I'm interested in any thoughts you have on exactly how government funding should be allocated. Do you think, for example, that the literacy & numeracy testing is a good enough indication of where more funding should be spent? What other systems should be in place to determine government spending on education in public schools? How can the government get the best results for every dollar spent? Should individual students be assessed & fixed amounts allocated on a per-student basis?
@RawBill1 (8541)
• Gold Coast, Australia
7 Feb 11
Closer to catching up all the time. I do not think there is an easy answer when it comes to the best way to fund schools evenly and fairly. Some areas need more assistance than other, but is it fair to give those schools more because they have performed badly? Rewarding the bad? I don't know! I think that assessing students on an individual basis and funding depending on that sounds good in theory, but in reality, I think it would cost way too much to implement. I am no expert on government funding, but the stats speak for themselves when you compare the results of say Aboriginal students in the north of Queensland compared to a Brisbane private school. Instead of funding private schools who already have an other income stream, they should be trying to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and white education. I also think that the QLD education system is already behind the rest of the country. We keep having poor results compared to the other states in the NAPLAN tests. Our health system is a bit of a national joke too apparently!
• Adelaide, Australia
8 Feb 11
Perhaps there should then be equal funding on a per-student basis with more for Indigenous people? With incentives for improvement, perhaps? Or commissions for initiating & participating in successful fund-raising activities? Maybe not the last one though, as I think students & teachers should be focused on teaching & learning. How do you think more funding could be given to disadvantaged Indigenous Australians? Do you think Sir Joe is partly to blame for Queensland's Education & Health Systems lagging a bit behind the other states?
@EdnaReyes (2628)
• Philippines
20 Jan 11
This is becoming a trend here in our place, government subsidizing private schools and cutting off budgets in public schools. They reasoned out that this option will depopulate public schools and therefore improving the education system. But did it ever occurred in their intelligent minds, it's the people's money their giving out and not anybody else? The public need government services and education is one of them!
• Adelaide, Australia
20 Jan 11
In the Philippines too! Yeah, it's everywhere. Governments actually make money (I'm not sure exactly how, whether through the tax system or whatever) by investing in or funding private schools. Until the laws change, which is unlikely as parliaments all over the world have very small majorities, if any, we probably won't see anything new here. So what you're saying is that the people's money should be spent on their children's education where their children are going to school & not someone else's children's education? Maybe that would be a fairer system. What do you think? Would I get your vote if I went into politics on that platform? Perhaps those who had no children could choose where their tax dollars went as far as funding local schools private or public too. It would be trickier & costlier to manage, but not impossible.
@Strovek (870)
• Malaysia
14 Jan 11
I think there are three categories of school. Public, semi-private and private. The difference is for private, you have to pay for everything. Semi-private, the government may subsidize some but the parent/teachers may need to get additional funding from other sources (since the public funding is not enough). Public means everything borne by our taxes. However, the line between public and semi-private is starting to blur with the decreased funding from the government. End of the day, it is the teacher and students that makes the school not who bears the cost. We need schools that provide a conducive environment to learn (environment includes teachers, students and facilities).
• Adelaide, Australia
14 Jan 11
Thank you for clarifying the situation. Private Schools tend to have very powerful Parents & Friends committee whom the Principle & teachers are very accountable to. They volunteer for much of what makes the school so very worthwhile for students to be a part of. It takes more than just throwing a heap of money at the situation to make it better. I think some parents get a bit upset when they see well-off private schools being funded over public schools where their child is struggling & lacking in many respects.
• Canada
14 Jan 11
yes, i agree on this point. if this is a private school, it is owned by an individual without any help from the government. why is the government helping out other people when it should be worried about its main school system.
• Adelaide, Australia
14 Jan 11
Fair point. Doesn't seem logical, does it? Is it a similar situation in Canada? In Australia, in 1963, Sir Robert Menzies' newly created Liberal Party saw the Catholic (private) school system on the verge of collapse. If this were to happen, the Public School system would have become a major catastrophe overnight. To avoid this situation (as well as win the votes of a very pro-Labor Catholic working class), Menzies funded these private schools which has been continuing ever since then. Hope this answers some questions
@terryt52 (245)
• United States
14 Jan 11
When I think of private school I think exactly what it is private. Should not be funded by the government. If I wanted my child to go to a private school then I should have to pay out of my pocket the money for that private school. If I want my child to attend an above average college then that college usually cost more than a community college then I have to pay for the better college. I do not know how you feel but our tax paying dollars is all going for entitlement programs and that is not fair to the hard working parent that chooses to go out work hard for their money get no entitlements and pay for their child to go to private school if that is what they want for their child. The public schools in the state have to many bad teachers that are protected by the unions. If we pay teachers according to what they are worth according to their teaching then we could get rid of bad teachers and leave room for the good teachers in the public school system that really want to teach and are not just there for the pay benefits and retirement. Just my opinion.
• Adelaide, Australia
14 Jan 11
That sounds fairly similar to what we're seeing down here. There are a number of teachers in the system with ulterior motives & those that don't really want to be in the job. Sometimes they're exposed & we wonder how the children & other teachers put up with them. They use government numeracy & literacy tests down here to rate schools & dismiss any who aren't measuring up. Every school has its own website now, for better or for worse. Parents can choose where to send their children from among those schools that are well-rated in many aspects. Anything similar up there?