A solution to zone fixing – abolish them!

June 27th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Principals and the Green Party are calling for a review of the Tomorrow’s Schools model which they say has caused secondary schools to adjust school zones and cherry-pick students.

Concern has mounted after a report by a visiting United States scholar found most Auckland secondary schools were zone-fixing – intentionally skewing their enrolment zones to improve their decile rating.

Principals say zone-fixing is nothing new and competition between schools has grown since the Tomorrow’s Schools model was introduced under David Lange in 1989.

There should be competition between schools. Parents should get a choice.

One has to understand that zoning does not operate in isolation. Say you have two schools in town. School A has 800 pupils and is at capacity and hence has a home zone. School B has 500 pupils with capacity for 600, and 200 of them would like to go to School A, but can not.

The problem is the Ministry will not allow the popular School A to grow, because the nearby School B is under capacity. So School A has a zone, excluding those outside it.

The actual solution is to allow schools to grow, when they are popular – even if there is surplus capacity at other schools.

Now people say pupils should be allowed to enrol at their closest school. I agree.  If a school is physically unable to grow any larger, then priority must go to locals. But schools should be allowed to grow to their maximum capacity if they are competent and popular, and this may even involved multi-campuses.

So I’d have two policies, to replace zoning.

  1. Every pupil has the right to attend the school they are geographically closest to (by travel on road)
  2. Every school is allowed to expand to as large as its board of trustees wants, with funding being per pupil

This would provide much better choice.

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82 Responses to “A solution to zone fixing – abolish them!”

  1. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    DPF – you should watch your back…..

    The PPTA, the NZEI, the Principals assoc etc will all be after you.
    Dont you know that only people in the education sector are allowed any sort of opinion on what happens to that sector.
    These people think that parents and taxpayers and general members of society are just too stupid to have any comprehension of whats best, or even what they want !!!

    I hear a rumour that they have already offerred a contract on you……….

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  2. anonymouse (716 comments) says:

    But, but, but ………….

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  3. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    I can’t see how your two policies have replaced zoning, they are what zoning is all about, letting people go to the closest school and effectively limiting the maximum number of people who can attend a school as a school is a finite resource.

    If zoning was abandoned you would still need a method of limiting numbers for popular schools, maybe entrance exams or ballots but it’s not hard to see that would cause all sorts of other issues.

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    I broadly agree with DPF’s two policies.

    Another policy ought to be that if unions are the only road-block to change, then they should be demolitioned.

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  5. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Yeah. Sounds logical, but i believe all it would do would import trouble into the better school.
    Zoning was only ever to address population growth not give parents choice. If you want to give parents choice then you’d be providing a voucher system.
    In California we have a board that oversees individual schools within the allocated district. Instead of each school being an individual unit, you have collaboration. Also I don’t but I could imagine you’d have a district board superintendent that could discipline shitty principals that were manipulating zones for their own gains.

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  6. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    At present we have a network of schools established to serve communities. How would it make sense to allow one school to expand continuously to the extent that other schools had to close? ‘Competition’ between schools is neither necessary nor desirablw, what is required is the maintenance of a network of schools that adequately servce local communities. There have been problems in the past when some school rolls have collapsed – but the solution should not be to close one school and expand another. Consider the sunk investment in the Hutt Valley’s abandoned schools, Petone College and the like – how was that a good use of limited resources?

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  7. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ YesWeDid

    “If zoning was abandoned you would still need a method of limiting numbers for popular schools”.

    Why? You make the assumption that every family will send their kids to the other side of the city for a certain school. Some will. But not most. A study at the University of Canterbury which surveyed Christchurch parents found that if they could send their children to any school in Christchurch, and vast majority choose NOT to move their kids. Convenience and community are big drivers. I suspect your views are not based on fact but stem from your paranoid Marxist view of the world.

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  8. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ mikenmild

    “Competition’ between schools”

    It’s not about competition between schools! It’s about not having families and children locked behind an East Germany style Iron Curtain with no chance of escaping the incompetence of the local educators.

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  9. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    @EWS – thanks for informing me about how my views on the world work.

    No I’m using common sense, I’ll make it simple so you can understand – if there were no zones and it was a free for all there would be some (but not all) schools that would have more requests for spaces than they have positions available for, at that point they would need some way of deciding who is accepted and who misses out.

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  10. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    I guess you could set up a system whereby the taxpayer gets to put up new buildings at currently-popular schools while buildings sit empty at once-popular-but-not-so-much-any-more schools nearby, on the basis that parental fads and fashions must be catered to or the communists will have won (or something). The building industry would be pleased to see it, I suppose.

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  11. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    So I’d have two policies, to replace zoning.

    Every pupil has the right to attend the school they are geographically closest to (by travel on road)
    Every school is allowed to expand to as large as its board of trustees wants, with funding being per pupil

    Well that would be very nice.

    However the cost of new buildings is a factor – looks like a school building should be somewhere between $1700 and $2000 per square metre… (As a guess? More than a house but less than a Retirement home?)

    http://www.dbh.govt.nz/bofficials-estimated-building-costs#map1

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  12. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt & RPM – in the world of the right-wing-education-expert schools can instantly expand and contract at no cost to the tax payer and the only thing preventing this magical world of education choice existing is the teacher unions.

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  13. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    You have it PM – the cost of those abandoned schools is nothing compared to the benefits of allowing parental choice.

    [DPF: Absolutely. Plus some buildings can be moved fairly easily, and/or let one school take over the campus of the failing one]

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  14. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    Why propose an at best 10% market solution. We dont fret about the size of supermarket zones or whether Nosh charges more than Countdown.

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  15. dubya (235 comments) says:

    Mikenmild, Petone College went to the dogs because of zoning. Weirdly, affluent but far-flung Eastbourne was in the zone for the much more desirable Hutt Valley High School, and the geographically closer (but poor) suburb of Moera was in the zone for Petone College. Students from Eastbourne actually bussed through Petone and Moera to get to HVHS!

    It’s hard to say what the two schools would have looked like with no zones; I suspect Petone College may have recovered, with the gentrification that area has experienced since the school was closed. HVHS would no doubt benefit from being a bit smaller, too.

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  16. trout (939 comments) says:

    No, the solution is to allow successful schools (the schools parents want their kids to go to) to take over unsuccessful schools. I have long thought that Auckland Grammar should have a Mangere campus (Successful principals have mentored there but the prevailing culture is too resistant to change, and lacks ambition). And of course the roaring succes of Auckland Grammar in producing good, educated citizens is a total anathema to the feminist controlled education politbureau.

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  17. Julian (177 comments) says:

    Agree in principle with this, but in reality how many schools have capacity to grow? They’re generally constrained on all sides. Popular schools (Point Chev Primary off the top of my head) have already expanded to capacity. Zones are a way of allocating places to locals.

    In short, schools that are popular are already operating at capacity aren’t they? I may be wrong.

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  18. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    Some of us have been saying this for years. After the initial novelty of having a choice most families would stay with their local school.
    But if the local school was failing, parents could vote with their feet and save the taxpayer the fortune being spent on commissioners etc to prop up failing schools.
    With relocatables it is quick and easy to increase or reduce the number of classrooms. There is no reason either why a popular school should not have a second campus in another suburb to cater for all the families that want to enrol.

    Once again we have rules that actually penalise the poor while the rich and knowledgeable can make sure their kids get into the schools they want.

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  19. lcmortensen (38 comments) says:

    Easiest way – set every school’s enrollment zones at no less than the boundaries of the school’s Transport Entitlement Zone, which boundaries’ are set equidistant between schools of the same year level and gender. Then there can be no manipulation, unless a new school is built or there is a major change in the roading system.

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  20. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    ‘Once again we have rules that actually penalise the poor while the rich and knowledgeable can make sure their kids get into the schools they want.’

    @BeaB – If you took all the kids from a poor school and swapped them with all the kids from a rich school so they effectively swap teachers and buildings, would the rich kids going to the poor school suddenly have a drop in academic ability and would the poor kids in the rich school suddenly have a raise in academic ability? Or would you quickly be back to where you started because there are factors greater than the teachers and the school that makes kids succeed or fail at school?

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  21. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Why propose an at best 10% market solution. We dont fret about the size of supermarket zones or whether Nosh charges more than Countdown.

    We don’t, but the Greens and a lot of Labourites sure seem to.

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  22. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    dubya
    Petone College was forced to close because of the conflicts between principal, senior teachers and board. Nothing to do with zoning.

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  23. Richard Watts (11 comments) says:

    A simple solution to a relatively complicated problem? If only it was that easy.

    Good parents tend to make good students and they tend to want to send their good students to good schools. Good schools receive the good students from the good parents which encourages more good parents to want to send their kids to the good school.

    Correlation does not always make good causation. A chef whom cherry-picks his ingredients can make a much better dish than someone who doesn’t have that opportunity even with the exact same talent. The well educated parents who have more time and energy to devote to their children will tend to have better educated children themselves. They also have the economic resources to ensure that they can buy property to ensure their kids will get into the school of their choosing.

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  24. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    @Richard Watts. Well educated parents usually have high expectations of their kids. I have found that kids generally live up to the expectations their parents have of them. If you have none – they won’t disappoint you.

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  25. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    DPF suggests

    1. Every pupil has the right to attend the school they are geographically closest to (by travel on road).

    Sounds like zoning to me

    2. Every school is allowed to expand to as large as its board of trustees wants, with funding being per pupil

    mmmm sounds like a very practical use of existing government resource.

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  26. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Brian Smaller (3,590) Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
    @Richard Watts. Well educated parents usually have high expectations of their kids. I have found that kids generally live up to the expectations their parents have of them. If you have none – they won’t disappoint you.

    Yes so you are saying it is not teachers failing the so called tail of students who do not leave school with a qualification it is the parents who have failed them. you may have a point there.

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  27. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @YesWeDid

    “I’ll make it simple so you can understand – if there were no zones and it was a free for all there would be some (but not all) schools that would have more requests for spaces than they have positions available for, at that point they would need some way of deciding who is accepted and who misses out.”

    Thanks for clarifying. The problem however, is that your opinion is not supported by the only current local study on the issue (that I am aware of). But the study does support my view.

    Why is your response to this?

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  28. rg (214 comments) says:

    Abolish zoning I agree, I think zoning was abolished under the tomorrows school and reintroduced later. Tomorrows schools are not the problem, it was the reintroduction of zoning that has caused it.
    ACT is the only party proposing that, Let the good schools prosper, let the bad ones close. National is too timid to do it. Sounds like DPF is converting to the ACT Party,

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  29. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    @EWS – you had better put up a link to the study.

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  30. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    ** Sorry. University of Auckland. Not University of Canterbury. The study was CHCH schools.

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  31. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Sounds like DPF is converting to the ACT Party

    There’s an ACT Party?

    A study at the University of [Auckland] which surveyed Christchurch parents found that if they could send their children to any school in Christchurch, and vast majority choose NOT to move their kids.

    Sounds an odd sort of study – parents in Christchurch already can send their kids to any public school in Christchurch, provided it has room for them, so of course the vast majority’s kids are at the school they chose.

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  32. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    DPF’s argument is decent. At psycho milt, milken mild etc, you just have a good school utilise the existing buildings. Buildings don’t mean shit really once they get to a decent threshold. Why can’t Auckland Grammar have a ‘Petone’ wing for instance? The demand would be there, and you wouldn’t waste all those buildings. If they were too rich prick for that, then why not a school like Wellington College, where students catch a train and bus for an hour and a half to get there every morning…. from Petone….

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  33. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    I wonder if Wellington College would still be as good, if they expanded their responsibilities to multiple campuses, thousands of students etc?

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  34. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Study was commissioned by Maxim Institute. The work was done by the Univesity of Auckland using the methodologies used by Cardiff University.

    If parents could choose any state, state-integrated or private secondary school in Christchurch, and money was no object, with 95% certainty approximately 26% of parents would change their child’s school, with an associated margin of error of approximately +/- 4%.

    The total number of pupils estimated who would move between schools in this access scenario is approximately 4,200.

    http://www.maxim.org.nz/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/rollplay_full.pdf

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  35. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    At psycho milt, milken mild etc, you just have a good school utilise the existing buildings.

    You might want to read YesWeDid’s comment above.

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  36. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    No doubt some of you will bitch about Maxim Institute. For everyone else who is interested in informed debate, it’s a quick and easy read. It would be good if the Ministry of Education bothered to do something like this. By I guess those charlatans are too scared of the results.

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  37. trevor.hoad@xtra.co.nz (1 comment) says:

    You are right “rg”. It is Act party policy. Under the Roger Douglas Scheme the failed schools with low pupil numbers would
    be sold or leased to school teachers who wanted to run their own schools. After two years the popular schools remaining
    would be formed into Companies

    The point to all this…. Individual employment contracts for teachers. The national party have tried to have a dabble at
    this with Bulk Funding.

    tinker

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  38. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ Psycho Milt

    “parents in Christchurch already can send their kids to any public school in Christchurch, provided it has room for them, so of course the vast majority’s kids are at the school they chose”

    Really? I don’t think you are correct (happy to be proved wrong). And if so, then what does that say about all the union opposition? Christchurch hasn’t fallen into a state of social injustice over this.

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  39. Scott Chris (6,137 comments) says:

    How would it make sense to allow one school to expand continuously to the extent that other schools had to close?

    To promote a more equal opportunity of access for all children to the best performing schools. Most underperforming schools won’t disappear or lose resources, just clients.

    Obviously there would be logistical problems so I would suggest that oversubscribed schools be expanded as quickly as possible to their fullest capacity and out of zone children chosen solely by ballot.

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  40. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Really? I don’t think you are correct (happy to be proved wrong). And if so, then what does that say about all the union opposition? Christchurch hasn’t fallen into a state of social injustice over this.

    Well, that is how it works, in Christchurch as well as in any other NZ city. You can look at any school in town you want and decide to send your kids there – as long as it has the room. Of course, if it doesn’t have enough room for all the kids whose parents want to send them there, some kind of rationing process has to take place – but that’s a practical requirement, not a govt one.

    What union opposition are we talking about here? As far as I’m aware, the teachers’ unions haven’t had any great problem with the current rationing system.

    To promote a more equal opportunity of access for all children to the best performing schools.

    It’s this idea that somehow the higher decile schools are “best performing” because of some feature of the school that so tickles me about right wingers. I shouldn’t laugh though, because it’s really not a funny mistake when you look at the effects.

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  41. Scott Chris (6,137 comments) says:

    It’s this idea that somehow the higher decile schools are “best performing” because of some feature of the school

    Who said anything about decile rating? Best performing means best performing. I shouldn’t laugh though because assumptions underlie prejudices.

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  42. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ Psycho Military

    Right. Well then I think your sentiment is pretty bloody disingenuous then. ‘If there is room’ means that for the purposes of this debate, there are clear zoning borders.

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  43. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    And that the aforementioned study is quite relevant to the debate. But as per usual, left leaning cultural marxist don’t want to listen to the truth.

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  44. Michael (909 comments) says:

    The funding should follow the child, and be based on family income or depravation index – then “good” schools will be interested in kids from poor areas, than the current incentives to exclude them (same funding as every other kid).

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  45. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Two schools in Greerton about 500 yds apart. One has high decile and the other low. High decile if full of little shits and low decile great bunch of kids and the joke is this. The low decile school is that way because its smack in the middle of the retirement village centre of Greerton. So who gets the most cash? Who has a dentist block.

    Hidh decile is overloaded with kids from high mortgage belt from over the Highway. No room to expand (good actually) and is a bloody nusiance cause all its dumb parents have to bring the kids to school in cars. Cars which block up the main artery into Tauranga.

    The State is too broke to supply proper of road loading zones like the two local Private Schools have to.

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  46. swan (665 comments) says:

    “However the cost of new buildings is a factor – looks like a school building should be somewhere between $1700 and $2000 per square metre… (As a guess? More than a house but less than a Retirement home?)”

    Funding per pupil should include all costs, not just marginal costs. Why should schools own their own buildings? My company doesn’t own its own building (it did once and contributed to it nearly going under). And if other schools shut down, the buildings can be utilised by the more successful school. When businesses go under, their tangible assets dont just get bulldozed into a hole in the ground you know.

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  47. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Right. Well then I think your sentiment is pretty bloody disingenuous then. ‘If there is room’ means that for the purposes of this debate, there are clear zoning borders.

    “If there is room” means only that the laws of physics apply to schools the same as they do to other aspects of physical reality. In the case of a school that has room for 800 students but has 1000 applicants, some rationing mechanism is going to exist, whether you would prefer a system in which all 1000 applicants magically fit into the school or not. In NZ, the chosen rationing mechanism is zoning, because we prefer a system that guarantees access to your local school. Other rationing mechanisms are available, including the preferred right-wing one in which parents are issued vouchers and the school then does the choosing, but these have obvious inferiorities to the zoning system.

    But as per usual, left leaning cultural marxist don’t want to listen to the truth.

    I don’t doubt it’s the truth (not that I’ve any idea what a “left-leaning cultural Marxist” is meant to be, but I’m assuming the comment was a continuation of the one addressed to me). There are several secondary schools in PN but we’re sending our kids to the local one, because there’s no good reason to do otherwise. No doubt many other parents feel the same way.

    Who said anything about decile rating? Best performing means best performing.

    I filled that in for you, as you seemed to have left it out. Decile of the intake’s the most significant indicator of school “performance” (in quote marks because the contribution of the staff and BoT to that performance is hard to gauge relative to the contribution of the pupils). I suspect that when you write “best performing schools” you really mean “currently-popular schools,” which isn’t actually the same thing.

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  48. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ swan

    I’d happily pay more taxes if that was the price for real education reform and the cost of the ‘new buildings’ that seem to be the latest meme deployed by lefties for argue why we can’t de-zone. But not for shithead unions to feather their fat arses.

    Besides, we wouldn’t have to build new schools because after a couple of years of de-zoning the bad schools will have ditched their shit leadership, instilled some basic disciplines in the kids, told parents to shape up, and basically sorted the school out. Yeah, their might be some disruption, but it wouldn’t be any worse than the crap that kids in under-performing schools are already facing.

    I’d note that most of our parents and ourselves (if you’re older than 30) got an education at middle-rung schools. We had chalk, pencils, paper and pens, and a calculator. The rooms weren’t that padded and air-conditioned like they are today. And we’re all productive (I assume) citizens. I think it’s arse to suggest that we can’t get rid of zoning because of infrastructure costs. Please.

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  49. swan (665 comments) says:

    “If there is room” means only that the laws of physics apply to schools the same as they do to other aspects of physical reality. In the case of a school that has room for 800 students but has 1000 applicants, some rationing mechanism is going to exist, whether you would prefer a system in which all 1000 applicants magically fit into the school or not.”

    Oh yeah, you mean like how McDonalds and Coke have to ration their products because they are too popular.

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  50. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    A couple of people have used supermarkets or restaurants as examples. Not a great analogy, unless you sincerely believe education in this country would be better served by complete privatisation.
    Zoning is nothing like rationing a product – it’s a simple mechanism to ensure access to the closest school and should ensure that there is a minimum of opening and closing schools or reconfiguring them to cater for swings in ‘customer demand’.

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  51. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Although to be fair, if you only eat at McDonalds. you might not realise that many restaurants operate their own rationing system – “Do you have a reservation?”

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  52. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    I think it’s arse to suggest that we can’t get rid of zoning because of infrastructure costs. Please.

    Well, yes, it would be. In reality, we can’t get rid of zoning because the alternatives are worse – no politician’s going to want to get up and tell the nation’s parents it’s been decided to strip them of the right to send their kids to their local school, and replace it with a system in which the school gets to decide whether it wants your kids or not. The infrastructure costs are just a reason why DPF’s idea of taxpayers’ indulging parental fads and fashions regarding popular schools is a crap one.

    Oh yeah, you mean like how McDonalds and Coke have to ration their products because they are too popular.

    Indeed. Because running a school is just like selling burgers and sugary shit drinks.

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  53. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    OK EWS I’ve had a look at the Maxim report. I didn’t read the whole thing (it’s 159 pages) but covered the main bits.

    I’m not sure that the conclusion (that scrapping zones would have little effect) is supported by the survey results, for example it says St Andrews would increase from 900 pupils to 1400 (if money was no object and people could send their child anywhere) I’d say that was a statistically significant increase. There are 4 other secondary schools it identifies that would gain significant pupils (out of 17 schools).

    I’m not sure that Christchurch is the best place to carry out this type of survey and I can’t see why they have only looked at secondary schools. If you are non-religious and don’t want to send your child to a single sex school in CHCH then the choices are actually small, however ignoring that, I think Maxim started with a conclusion and worked backwards from the survey results.

    It is interesting, though, that they say (when money is taken into account) that only 26% of people would move their children, however they say 46% of people already send their children to a school out of zone.

    I think in the real world the zoning and the way people react to it is far more complicated than DPF likes to present.

    Thanks for highlighting the report, not many people bring to this forum more than their own narrow prejudices.

    And, yes infrastructure costs are significant, how about you ring up the Principal of St Andrews and tell him from next year he has to accommodate 500 extra pupils and see what he says.

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  54. swan (665 comments) says:

    “should ensure that there is a minimum of opening and closing schools or reconfiguring them to cater for swings in ‘customer demand’.”

    Except it doesnt. There are schools that are perennially oversubscribed. Take Auckland Grammar School for example. Being inside the zone boundary increases house prices by 6 figures. And it hasn’t expanded at all for several years.

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  55. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Yes, swan. So in DPF’s fantasy world Auckland Grammar would end up running satellite academies the length and breadth of the land, every other school would close and the whole country would be in that zone.

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  56. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ YesWeDid

    Am glad you were able to take the time scan it.

    I think the key thing is that parents aren’t going to go berserk and rip their kids out of school. As unions would have us believe.

    “I’m not sure that Christchurch is the best place to carry out this type of survey and I can’t see why they have only looked at secondary schools.”

    Perhaps. Maybe the Ministry of Education could get off their arses and do some research on this. I’m sure it costs 3/5 of fuck all. We have a fully taxpayer-funded policy group that doesn’t seem to able to research topical issues. Instead it’s left to self-funding think-tanks. If the leftist are so confident of how great the system is, surely the research will prove this. I won’t hold my breath though.

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  57. swan (665 comments) says:

    “Yes, swan. So in DPF’s fantasy world Auckland Grammar would end up running satellite academies the length and breadth of the land, every other school would close and the whole country would be in that zone.”

    Ok so you do understand, you were just playing dumb. I see.

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  58. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Or swan, we can continue to provide a network of excellent schools for all.

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  59. swan (665 comments) says:

    Thats reasonable position mikenmild. Just don’t pretend that zoning is just some practical necessity, like handrails or Harbour-masters.

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  60. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Zoning is a practical way of rationing demand for particular schools and ensures access to the closest school.

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  61. swan (665 comments) says:

    Yeah ok. Zoning is just a practical way of implementing a highly political policy. The policy of rationing.

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  62. Scott Chris (6,137 comments) says:

    I suspect that when you write “best performing schools” you really mean “currently-popular schools,” which isn’t actually the same thing.

    Like I said, that’s your assumption which, I repeat, happens to be wrong. By ‘best performing’ I’m referring to those schools which teach the curriculum most effectively regardless of who is being taught. And in order to establish a school’s performance relative to itself and other schools, any measurable facet needs to be objectively assessed.

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  63. Scott Chris (6,137 comments) says:

    mikenmild (4,610) Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 9:27 pm
    Or swan, we can continue to provide a network of excellent schools for all.

    Mike, this is a myth you continue to attempt to perpetuate. Being the best of a mediocre bunch doesn’t amount to excellence in my book. Like any other profession, teaching has its competent practitioners, its indifferent practitioners and its poor practitioners, roughly divided into thirds in my experience. Same formula works for cops, nurses, doctors, you name it. Point is, the most important factor in the classroom after the child herself is the teacher.

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  64. Liberal Minded Kiwi (1,570 comments) says:

    Note that not one of these lefties have shown any interest to parental choice.

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  65. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Zoning is just a practical way of implementing a highly political policy. The policy of rationing.

    As would be any other policy regarding access to schools, including whatever your preferred one is. Rationing is imposed by physics, not govts – whether the rationing is based on some practical solution like zoning, some inferior solution like vouchers and letting the schools choose the parents, or full privatisation and letting affordability do the rationing. If you have a problem with the particular form of rationing in operation, fine; if you have a problem with rationing itself, your complaint is with physical reality, not the govt.

    Note that not one of these lefties have shown any interest to parental choice.

    We haven’t shown any interest in parental favourite movies, either. Parents already have choice so it’s irrelevant to this discussion, except to the extent that right-wing proposals such as scrapping zoning altogether would actually reduce parental choice.

    DPF’s idea of changing the requirement so that kids have the right to go to their geographically-nearest school (ie, prevent schools from gaming the zoning system to get a better intake) would actually fix the problem referred to in the post without wrecking the principle of having the right to send your kids to their local school, so it’s an idea with a lot of merit. Blathering on pointlessly about teacher unions, best-performing schools and parental choice lacks merit.

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  66. swan (665 comments) says:

    @Psycho Milt:

    “As would be any other policy regarding access to schools, including whatever your preferred one is. Rationing is imposed by physics, not govts”

    Try to keep up. The whole point of the post and comments thread is that if schools were funded on a per student basis they would be able to expand to meet demand.

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  67. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    @Swan – I thought the whole point of the thread was school zoning is bad and removing zoning would open up a brave new world of parental choice and grubby little issues like the practicality of expanding schools, what happens to unpopular schools and who pays for all this were totally ignored because we are talking ideology here not reality.

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  68. Scott Chris (6,137 comments) says:

    Rationing is imposed by physics, not govts

    No, rationing is imposed naturally by physics and artificially by government. Sometimes artificial rationing is desirable in that positive discrimination can lead to better social outcomes, however the current zoning regime doesn’t function that way and furthermore it would be politically impossible to alter the current state of affairs.

    In my opinion, the gradual dismantling of school zones is the only practical way forward.

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  69. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    The whole point of the post and comments thread is that if schools were funded on a per student basis they would be able to expand to meet demand.

    Er, schools are funded on a per-student basis – up to the capacity of the school. The capital for expanding beyond that to cope with demand has to be negotiated with the Min of Ed (and is, successfully, in a lot of cases) because the per-student funding isn’t intended to cover capital costs. I guess the govt could go to the electorate with a plan to raise taxes so that it can raise per-student funding to the point where schools will be able to play at empire-building, but it’s hard to picture that actually happening.

    In my opinion, the gradual dismantling of school zones is the only practical way forward.

    As pointed out above, the govt is also free to go to the electorate with a plan to remove the right to send your kids to a local school, and in future let the schools choose the parents. But it’s hard to picture that happening either.

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  70. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I’m pretty sure that no matter what reasons you give PM, some will continue to regard zones as a stalinist attack on personal freedom. Never mind that the zones actually function to gurantee access to the local, which coincendetally also tends to be the one preferred by parents. But we must let facts fet in the way of ideological attacks on a well-performing education system.

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  71. tom hunter (4,843 comments) says:

    But we must let facts fet in the way of ideological attacks on a well-performing education system.

    What was that after the debate the other day mm? la, la, la. I can’t hear you?

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  72. swan (665 comments) says:

    “because the per-student funding isn’t intended to cover capital costs.”

    Yes well the point is it should. Then you can decide whether it is best for the Min of Ed to own and maintain the buildings, or whether the private sector could do it better.

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  73. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    More school holidays from today.

    Look out there will be more teachers blogging, as they have nothing better to do, except do work on their rental properties.
    I read recently that teachers, and many with teacher partners, are the largest group of rental property owners.
    Many of course are childless so they have plenty of money to spend.

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  74. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    tom
    That’s right – if you prefer vague ‘left wing this’ or ‘left wing that’ statements instead of any actual argument of substance.
    swan
    Arguing for vouchers again?
    Paulus
    Perhaps the teachers should be forced top do some real work during the ‘holidays’, eh?

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  75. swan (665 comments) says:

    You can call it what you like mikenmild. I’d probably call it a transparent, equitable funding mechanism for schools. Hey, we could get rid of deciles with this system as well – funding will be attached to individual students, so no need to brand a school.

    Sounds like win win win to me!

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  76. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    swan
    I have no problem with what you want to call it. I just have difficulty in seeing how that could possibly improve educational outcomes.

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  77. swan (665 comments) says:

    “I just have difficulty in seeing how that could possibly improve educational outcomes.”

    I would too if it were still the 17th century. But its 250 years since Adam Smith, and over 20 since the fall of the Soviet Union. So we kind of have a better idea of how the world actually works these days.

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  78. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    So you will be able to give me examples of voucher systems producing better educational outcomes than NZ has at present?

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  79. swan (665 comments) says:

    Its not been tried in NZ. Too difficult to control for confounds with overseas examples.

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  80. swan (665 comments) says:

    Plus this is not strictly a question of utility. Its also a question of individual liberty.

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  81. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    The liberty of schools to choose their pupils?

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  82. swan (665 comments) says:

    Other way round.

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