The Sydney Morning Herald put out an article today that decried the overly high school fees parents had to pay at the start of the school year. And they aren’t wrong – cuts to education, the expectation of new uniforms, the buying of resources like books, etc. all adds up and every year the fees just grow. But there is one problem with the article that is so outrageous it begs the question why it was written. Because the family the SMH focused on and felt sorry for was one jumping into private schools.
“The equivalent of taking a $30,000 pay cut”, they cried, such is a “parent’s sacrifice” for their children’s schooling. Let’s put this in perspective here. This is a family that, until now, has put their kids through the public system and were displeased with it. So they went to a private school instead, and are now mad about the exorbitant fees expected of them. The father said school costs were about $1000 in the public system – so if he were complaining about that, I would agree, that is extreme and public schools should be free. But I don’t feel you have the right to complain about private school fees when you make the decision to swap to the private system.
The fact that they can send their kid to a private school, that they can essentially afford a ‘$30,000 pay cut’, does not give them much credibility in the sympathy game. The father said that his wife had to start working again, that they are considering having to move out of their current suburb (presumably because it’s too expensive for them now), and that they “don’t really go on holidays anymore”. Sorry, I don’t get the point of this story? Going to a private school is a conscious choice, and not really one you can complain about. Either send your kid to a public school and save the $29,000 you dearly miss, or accept that you need to drop a bit of luxury to benefit your kid’s education, if you think it is worthwhile. Complaining about it just makes you look arrogant and self-pitying – and makes me feel sorry for the kid whose education is such a pain.
Education is not a commodity, it is a right, and the public schooling system should be free (at a minimum – public TAFE and universities should be as well). Proper investments into education would make it so the students do not suffer from socioeconomic discrimination when it comes to supplies and resources. The egregious part of all this is that a lot of the funding for education on a Federal level actually pours into the private system, which is disgusting. Personally, I do not think the private school system should get any money from the government – especially not religious schools – but do understand that if the parents pay taxes then they should have some subsidies. But to expect large amounts of taxpayer money as well as fees reaching into the tens of thousands is disgusting – education is not a business venture, but if you choose to enter that world then don’t cry about not being able to go on holidays anymore; how privileged can you get? Most people I know went through the public system and still could not afford to go on holidays.
Rant over, the Sydney Morning Herald should be doing better.
Liked this? Read Australia Ranks High But Should Be Doing Better
Previous piece: We Don’t Have to Apologise, We Need To Acknowledge