This morning I’ve been to the last of the Saturday morning school cricket matches for this year.

Today’s match was at a school which shall remain nameless, in the very-deep northern suburbs.

Looking around, I noticed that the school swimming pool, so carefully fenced to a height of 2 metres, has been filled in. The changing rooms sit there, abandoned, with pigeons cooing from the rafters. The school is a strange mix of transportable wooden buildings from about 1950, and a few more modern brick buildings – from the 1960’s. That’s modern. There are windows that have been broken and boarded up, grass grows through cracks in the paving.

The one thing, the only thing, going for this school is the oval. Which is not an oval, because its a long rectangle. But it’s green, and they have a group of parents and kids out who are having a crack at playing cricket.

This school, and this neighbourhood, is a shithole. Lowest of the low working class, permanently poor. At least a few of them are getting out and trying.

And while sitting there and watching, I’m reading the paper. With an article in it about how parents are suffering because private school fees have gone up so much more than inflation.

This comes after a week where the Federal government have had a big fuss about accountability of private schools who receive over $20 BILLION of federal taxpayers money.

And contrast this with a few months ago when, done southish with friends, we went for a walk to a nearby school to kick a ball around. This was a private school, but we used the grounds anyhow (stuff em, my bloody taxes are paying for some of it). I felt literally sick – the amount of new building work being done (a new computer complex AND gymnasium) is obscene.

Those who want private schools to be unaccountable for their funding sources, and those who defend the right of private schools to get government money, should take a look. Take a good look, at the private schools with the endless building and improvement programs. Include in those the “independent” schools – usually religious, who have likewise grown like mad in the last decade. And take a look in the working class areas at the public schools. Walk around through the grounds of both. Do it on the same day.

We have, through deliberate government action, created a two-tier education system. It was done in the name of equity. That equity has failed miserably.

Something’s wrong, folks. And nobody is brave enought to fix it. All they want to do is whine about how hard it is to pay the private fees. Boo f$#@ing hoo.


Couldn’t have said it better myself, Wally. You should send this article to the Traumatiser, Sunday Fail, or, if you’re feeling particularly cheeky and want to outrage 99% of their readers – The Adelaide Review….

Comment by Kath Lockett | December 6th, 2008 1:49 pm | Permalink

The sad thing about this is that the private schools are offering an educational standard that is only just average by world standards. Most (not all, there are some exceptions) public schools have an embarrasingly low academic standard. Some public schools don’t even offer the basic 3R’s at any sort of standard because of the racial background of their students – (yes – apartheid is alive and well in Australia) which is guaranteed to ensure unfair opportunities for these poor kids.

I grew up in a country where the public school system for the most part achieved a uniformly high educational standard, and this despite the fact that when taxes were collected, you had to nominate which school system your dollars were going toward (public or Catholic), so that each system would be funded proportionately.

I don’t know where the money is going, but it ain’t getting to where it’s needed.

Comment by Don | December 8th, 2008 9:38 am | Permalink

Well you know how I feel about it Wally. Posted on this same issue last week. Of course there should be transparency! I don’t even know why this is an issue? If you receive federal funding, you explain how you’re going to use it! Makes me angry as well.

Comment by Baino | December 8th, 2008 11:50 am | Permalink

The sad part about all this is that is the lower middle class parents who are making the big sacrifices for their children by working two or more jobs to pay the fees and hoping that their children get entry to an elite social class which will get them on the easy path to the top. And the more parents who desert the public school system to place their children in indifferent private schools to get entree to the ‘upper’ classes the more demand is made on the Government of the day to help out with the school fees and the public schools are left with an awkward mixture of good kids and children from no-hoping families [i.e. those with no aspirations towards higher education or often to any education].
I can remember interviewing a young man for a position as a trainee linesman who had been to St. Peters College and he talked about the sacrifices his parents had made to pay the fees. He didn’t get the job, there were others who were better. What he finished up doing I’ll never know but this was just one of what I am sure are a great many where the private school education is actually a handicap for the graduate when it comes to getting and holding down a job in the real world. None of this of course mitigates the appalling misdirection of public money which has gone on ever since the 1956 launch of Sputnik gave Menzies the justification to allocate public money to build science laboratories at private schools. This was the thin end of the wedge and once the constitutional challenges of DOGS [Defence of Government Schools] had been defeated in the courts, it’s just been open slather ever since.
One day, there just might be a politician brave enough to turn off the tap but it’s hard to see this ever happening

Comment by Dad | December 8th, 2008 9:18 pm | Permalink

Well put Wally. I have been on Governing Councils of two public schools here in the Adelaide area. One small and one large. It is very challenging to make the books balance and offer even a basic educational service. Capital investment has completely dried up for much needed improvement projects. There are many people within the system working hard to keep things going. How long before they just say forget this. Good teachers are already being poached out of the public schools by private schools with seemingly bottomless budgets. Unfortunately the likes of Rann and Foley seem determined to push through more cuts for many schools under the guise of attacking “greedy teachers”.

Very sad.

Comment by Colin Campbell | January 2nd, 2009 7:37 am | Permalink

Colin – what’s REALLY sad is that the State Government has responsibility for state schools, and they HAVE to make their books balance. You can go into deficit to build roads and assets that last many years, but not to pay things like teachers salaries (recurrent expenses).

It’s no different to you or I buying a house: we borrow, and pay it back over a lifetime. But if we have to borrow to buy the groceries every week we know we are on a long slippery slope to nowhere.

At the same time, the Federal Government was, and still is, waltzing around like some modern-day Mary Poppins, throwing cascades of money at PRIVATE schools.

This is what’s really sad.

Those who can most afford it get subsidised, those who can’t get screwed.

Comment by Wally | January 2nd, 2009 9:57 am | Permalink

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