Coddington on zoning

Deborah Coddington writes:

With preschoolers we look around for an early childhood centre we think suits our needs, is convenient in terms of distance from home and work, and within budget – usually in that order. Then the government subsidies per child go to the provider.

When we go to tertiary training we choose where, geographically, we wish to study. If you live in Auckland, you are not restricted to Auckland University; likewise Dunedinites are not zoned for Otago University.  As a tertiary student, you choose, and the government funding for your qualification follows you to the tertiary provider.

But for some reason we do not trust families to choose their children’s primary and secondary schooling. 

I’d abolish all zoning, but have a reserve power for the Ministry of Education to force a school to take a student if there is no other school available within say 30 minutes travel.

The only winners from this policy are property owners and real estate agents.

Zoning means rich families get choices, but poor families do not.

It does not have to be like this. The Netherlands abolished zoning in 1917. The state pays for education while parents choose the school. 

But that will never happen here because of two powerful interest groups – wealthy property owners in grammar zones, and teacher unions. Both have a vested interest in this archaic system.

So governments will continue telling families that bureaucrats know which school is best for their children.


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