Outrage over Greens taxpayer funding of private school

Personally I am a fan of private schools. They add diversity to the NZ school system and allow around 3% of students to attend schools which can be innovative in a way most state schools can’t. The 25% subsidy for their operations seems reasonable to me as it is only around $1,500 per student and taxpayers actually save money by having students attend private schools as if everyone was in a public school we would be paying over $6,000 per student.

The Green School New Zealand looks like an excellent innovative school. They have found a niche in the market and have invested in it. I don’t mind that it is owned by a for profit company and that the owners will profit from it, just as I don’t mind that the early childhood education centre my oldest son attends is privately owned.

But this $12 million grant to the Green School is horrendous, for a number of reasons.

  1. This is a brand new school that only opened in 2020. It has no track record of governance, management or education to judge it on. This is not some long established school that has proven itself.
  2. The school doesn’t even have full registration yet. It is on provisional registration
  3. According to Radio NZ the current roll is only around 50 students, of which around half are domestic. This means that $12 million has been given to a school with 25 domestic students which is an average subsidy of $480,000 per student. Compare that to around $6,000 a student for state schools and $1,500 for other private schools.
  4. It is one of the most expensive schools in New Zealand, costing around the same as Kings. It costs $5,300 just to register and $24,000 in tuition fees for NZ students or $43,000 for foreign students. So anyone attending in 2020 has paid $29,300 or $48,300.
  5. If a child attended the school for all 13 years of primary and secondary it would cost the family $317,300. The families who can afford this are clearly in the top 1%
  6. The school charges annual interest rates on late fees of 36%
  7. The school said it was already planning to expand to 500 students, yet this $12 million is trumpeted as allowing it to expand to 250 students – a fewer number than they already planned

Former Green MPs are not happy:

Unions also not happy:

Post Primary Teachers’ Association regional chair Erin MacDonald also had equity on her mind.

“Providing a private school with $11.7 million of government funding is not a good use of government funds to provide equity of access to students in our region.”

MacDonald said the region’s Enviroschools – which also had sustainability focus – got $10,000 annually.

The Educational Institute represent 50,000 teachers.

Its national secretary Paul Goulter said teachers were angry at Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

“What really upsets is when they point to the Green’s policy on public education it actually says public funding for private schools should be phased out and transferred to public schools, so what gives?”

Goulter said spending public money on profit-orientated private schools was wrong.

“And then with an overlay of trying to attract overseas students … Why any school would be trying to have a business model that’s built around the attraction of international students at the moment, I have no idea?

Again I’m in favour of private schools receiving the modest $1,500 per student subsidy. I’m totally against a school hand picked by Green Party Ministers because it shares their name and ethos to get a massive $12 million for a school with 25 domestic students.

Also the claim by James Shaw that it will produce $43 million a year of economic growth to the region is just farcical. I bet you that is a claim from the people who got the money, and not the view of officials.

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