Herald says abolish zoning

The Herald editorial:

Ironically, “the right to attend the nearest school” was the principle advanced by a previous Epsom MP, Christine Fletcher, to have zoning restored in a partial reversal of the competitive elements of the “Tomorrow’s Schools” reform. But withdrawing that right from future residents is only one possible solution Mr Seymour has proposed. Another, he suggests, would be to block students who lived in the zone without their parents. He says schools have told him of foreigners buying a house in the zone, staying just long enough to gain permanent residency and their child’s enrolment, then leave the child here with relatives or acquaintances.

His third and most obvious suggestion is to build more high schools in the area. The Ministry of Education bought land for a new school from the Auckland Trotting Club in 1999 but the school has not eventuated. It was opposed by residents who feared for their real estate values. The restoration of zoning has created a monster capable of defeating the ministry’s reasonable plans. Mr Seymour’s proposal to pull up the drawbridge against new arrivals may be the only political solution but it would be simpler to abolish zones and restore schools’ freedom to enrol aspirants from anywhere.

That is my preferred policy. You’d need a safeguard where the Ministry can direct a school to take a student if say they have not been accepted into any school within 5 kms (urban) and 50 kms (rural), but otherwise leave it to parents and schools.

The current zoning system gives choice only to those who can afford to buy a house in the zone foor the school they want.

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