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Class war

Written By: - Date published: 12:58 pm, June 12th, 2009 - 68 comments
Categories: education, scoundrels - Tags:

One of the particularly unpleasant parts of the last budget was the cutting of funding for night school classes in conjunction with the increase in private school funding.

Apart from the grossly blatant transfer of taxpayers’ money from low and middle-income Kiwis to the rich the move represents the fact that this government has no interest at all in upskilling workers.

While silver-spoon Tory wankers like Anne Tolley might scoff at night classes as “hobby courses” the truth is they offer many workers the chance to acquire skills like dressmaking, languages or welding which may lead to further education and increased job opportunities.

And they can do them without having to take time off from the day jobs, jobs that they need to pay their rent and feed their kids.

Of course that kind of thing isn’t Tolley’s concern. She’d much rather the money went to a $35m subsidy for private schools such as Kings College (guess whose kids go there) than to ordinary working people getting on the first rung of the education ladder.

There’s a campaign to try to stop this at www.stopnightclasscuts.org.nz – I’d encourage you to fill in their petition and to get everyone you know to do so as well.

68 comments on “Class war”

  1. The other really unfortunate repercussion is that it tears a hole in the budgets of many schools who rely on the further funding to make ends meet.

    It is very, very shortsighted. At a time when workers are meant to be upskilling themselves the ability to do so disappears.

    What does this Government have against eduction?

  2. burt 2


    On state funding of private schools:

    Did you know that under the ‘rules’ associated with school zones that if you live “in zone’ you are entitled to attend the local school and the local school must accept you as a student. The school has no option but to make room for you. It cannot deny you a place on that school roll.

    Imagine if al the kids in private schools turned up at their local ‘in zone’ school and demanded a place on that school roll. Do you think the amount of money allocated to private schools would be enough to increase teacher/classroom resources to accommodate all the kids currently in private schools?

    Now consider that the majority of (certainly not all) kids in private schools have parents who are big tax payers. These people are paying taxes to fund state schools, paying taxes to provide capacity that they are not using. Therefore these people are paying for capacity for other people AND paying for their own education in the private system. They are paying twice is this a fair and equitable system?

    I need to be clear here, state funding of education is a fine thing, but I don’t see why state funding should only be for state schools when everybody is required to fund education from general taxation.

    This opens up the door to wider discussion on the ideology of how state as funder and state as provider is implemented. IMHO it is right to allocate state funds to private schools. I think the same amount per child should be allocated to whichever provider the parents choose for their child. If that state funding is all that is required for a state school then that would be good, this crap ‘compulsory donations’ BS would be a thing of the past and people would have real choice. Additionally there would be a much broader spread of people able to access private education if they were not required to pay the full price of private education while still paying for state education they are not using.

    I think looking at this as a class war is superficial and pointless. IMHO The real issue with regard to ‘class war’ is why the state schools are not able to match the private schools in terms of academic outcomes and why we perpetuate segregation of the classes via zoning. Most notable in regard to class war is the percentage of pacific island people at Auckland Grammar before zoning and after years of zoning. It makes a mockery of the intent of the zoning policy and this reality is being ignored because people only look at the ideological intent and not the real world outcomes.

    • indiana 2.1

      …equally you pay twice if you have health insurance and pay taxes to fund NZ health system. To make it fair, could those that wish to pay for private education and health care get a tax credit?

    • Daveski 2.2

      Unless I’m mistaken, the rich pricks actually pay in a third way through GST on school fees.

      In terms of the post title, I was likewise prepared to take up the battle before the penny dropped – it’s actually a very very clever post title as it has multiple meanings within the context of this debate. Kudos IB!

      While there are undoubtedly a small number of worthy causes, my experience with night school is that it is largely middle class types learning to speak foreign languages in preparation for overseas trips. That’s as bad a generalisation as saying that night school leads to jobs.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      Therefore these people are paying for capacity for other people AND paying for their own education in the private system. They are paying twice is this a fair and equitable system?

      That’s their choice – they certainly don’t have to.

      • Jared 2.3.1

        And the public education system would collapse if they were to, its a lose lose situation

        • burt


          If the state ran fewer schools of better quality and more people were taking their ‘social wage’ and topping it up in private/integrated schools resulting in an overall improvement in educational outcomes – win win.

          But hey – status quo is comfortable.

    • Anita 2.4

      That the public system would struggle if a huge number of people made a sudden and unanticipated move is neither here nor there. If everyone over 60 moved to Rotorua the DHB would struggle, but that’s not an indictment on the DHB or the current health system.

      • burt 2.4.1


        That’s a pretty shabby looking straw man.

        Kids today are walking (well probably being driven) past the local school their parents are paying for to go to prvate schools.

        I had major doubts that anyone would pick up on the noticable fall in pacific island student numbers at AKL Grammar under the zoning policy and rather they would focus on the “rich can afford it” angle.

        But I expected a more reasoned response from you !

        • IrishBill

          That’s a pretty shabby looking straw man.

          I’m pleased to see you admit it, Burt.

        • Anita

          My argument isn’t about your double paying argument (the maths I need are at home and I’m not 🙂 ). It’s about your point that if everyone going privately suddenly changed to public the public system would struggle and a different funding model would be needed – that’s not a particularly useful argument: if a big thing changed suddenly other things would struggle to compensate and would need to adjust is only a useful argument against anyone proposing a sudden change without planning. Which is not what the post suggested.

          I’m waffling 🙂 You created an irrelevant straw man, I countered it, you complained my counter was irrelevant – well who’d’ve thought? 🙂

          • burt

            Fair enough. I can afford to live in exclusive state school zones so I’m not fighting for my benefit. I’ll give up – it’s not effecting me or my family so why should I care. You lot will make a good lefty out of me yet.

        • Quoth the Raven

          It’s not a straw man burt – she’s not misrepresenting your position she’s merely saying your assertion is irrelevant to the argument.

        • burt


          The Rotorua DHB example is nowhere near comparable because you are comparing people choosing between their local state provider or the Roto state provider. In this example the number of ‘clients’ requesting services of the state provider has not changed, just moved. In my example the number of people requesting services from the state provider changed.

          • felix

            You’re quite right burt. Anita’s totally unrealistic and irrelevant hypothetical was not a perfect parallel of your totally unrealistic and irrelevant hypothetical.

          • Anita

            Thanks felix, I was in danger of being sucked in to defending my unrealistic and irrelevant hypothetical, probably by making it even more unrealistic and irrelevant until it became unambiguously ridiculous. I’m sure our loyal readers are grateful for having avoided that 🙂

    • Quoth the Raven 2.5

      Since they’re subsidised by the government they’re not really “private” schools at all.

    • Ag 2.6

      There’s an easy argument against this. The education system has many functions, one of which is to classify students by their relative aptitude. When a child leaves school, their grade sheet is supposed to tell potential employers what they are good at and what they aren’t good at.

      An efficient society takes advantage of each student’s natural aptitude and develops each students capacities as best as possible. Ideally, what we want is for the academically bright kids (wherever they come from) to get the sort of education that will maximize their contribution to society (which has just forked out for a first world education for them), and the technically inclined kids to get the same and so on.

      Private schooling is simply a way for rich people to disrupt this system by buying their kids an advantage. It’s something that everyone else has an interest in stopping, because we don’t want places in law school or medical school going to stuffed shirts.

      I have no problem with having elite schools. I do have a problem with rich people buying their way into them.

  3. principessa 3

    There’s the old Private Health Insurance argument again:

    “If I pay private health insurance I should get a tax credit”

    If you collapse in the street from a stroke, or some other reason, the ambulance rocks up, and the ambo officer gets out, and does he/she go through your wallet to find out if you have Private Health Insurance? No, the ambulance takes you to the nearest Public Hospital emergency department, uses publicly funded lifesaving eqiupment, and you get the picture.

    Bring on the day when the ambo driver rocks up, scans the barcode on your body, which reads “Private” and then calls the Private Ambulance Service to come and collect your sorry behinds.

    Lol. I’m being faceacous. But yeah…

    • Daveski 3.1

      No you’re not, you’re being facetious and I’m being an pedantic tosspot 🙂

    • indiana 3.2

      …I don’t think anyone is asking for a total tax credit…perhaps a portion is recognition that you are reducing the burden on the state. You do make some valid points. Equally if initially the state gets me to a hospital so that I can breathe for the next few hours, but then I get transferred to a private hospital where my insurance kicks in, would that be ok?

      • burt 3.2.1

        NO – The state is the only option for provision of emergency services. It’s the way it is and the way it must stay – any other suggestion is SEDITION.

  4. Ianmac 4

    A few years ago (No I cannot reference it) a survey was carried out to see if it could be shown whether the claimed excellence of a private school was valid. It was no use comparing exam results because the intake from a Private school was already advantaged with high socio-economic pupils. So the target group was first year University students. The results showed that the most successful students came from Coed schools. Then the single sex State schools and lastly from private schools.
    No doubt the networking in private schools is an advantage but do I resent taking money from the Education Budget in order to prop up the Private schools? No!

    • JK 4.1

      You don’t resent proppoing up private schools? Are you sure that’s what you meant to say?

      • Ianmac 4.1.1

        You are right! Ah! Yes! I resent propping up Private Schools at the expense of State schools. Thanks JK

    • infused 4.2

      If that’s true, it makes a lot of sense. It wasn’t what I learn’t at private school, it was the networking I did. Hence how I have my business now and so many good contacts.

  5. Anita 5

    I think, but can’t easily check until I get home tonight, that the $35m is actually an increase in the total subsidy which is a lot higher than $35m.

    • Anita 5.1

      The existing subsidy cap was $40million, they’ve raised it by $35million  that’s right, in the midst of a recession they’re providing a 87.5% increase in funding to the schools of the wealthiest.

      To link whore for a moment, a while ago I wrote about the politics of state funding to private schools: the perfect crossover issue for the Christian right and the economic right.

      • burt 5.1.1

        Interesting. I do wonder if the 4.1% of students that ieuan quotes is just private or private and integrated schools?

        I assume the $75m you quote is for all state funding of both private and integrated?

        If the $75m includes integrated schools then I don’t think you can honestly say schools of the wealthiest. There are many christian based schools that are catering to a very different market in that school mix as well.

        • Anita

          Shit, ignore everything I said :-/ I checked the $40million but not the $35m: which is actually split over four years ($5m in 09-10, $10m in each subsequent) so the cap is actually being raised to $50m, a 25% increase. Still ridiculous under the current financial constraints and when surrounded by cuts to other education priorities, but not 87.5%.

          Anyhow, it’s $50m per year to only independent schools. In last year’s March roll returns that meant just under 31,000 students. This year’s figures aren’t up yet (and Education are moving things around their stats site to confuse me 🙂

          • The Baron

            Thanks for the link, Anita,

            Am I correct in reading that this $35m isn’t for “private” schooling at all, despite the hysteria in these comments?

            “Independent” schools are usually an entirely different kettle of fish – predominiantly the old religious formed schools, that still own their own assets but take a chunk of operational funds from the Government because they operate akin to public schooling.

            I was as surprised as anyone that private schools would be funded, climate or no. But this is entirely different. I think it is only appropriate for Irish to detract some of his earlier comments for being, well, frankly misleading.

            IrishBill: you are mistaking “independent” for “integrated”. Independent schools are private schools and they are in receipt of another $35m. I think it is only appropriate that you offer me an apology for claiming I lied.

          • burt


            Can you provide a link that shows that finding going to independent schools rather than to integrated schools. See the way I see it “Independent” schools are independent and not govt funded and “integrated” schools are integrated and govt funded.

            IrishBill: the reply function doesn’t seem to be working for me so I’ll put this in your post:

          • The Baron

            Ohhhh true true true – I respectfully withdraw and apologise

          • Anita

            Wow, the world clearly needs even more linkies 🙂

            This (which I linked to before) will say that the additional funding is going to independent schools, which are private schools.

            This will tell you about independent schools (i.e. private schools) and differentiate them from integrated schools.

            This should provide a list of fully registered private schools (i.e. the group we’re talking about getting additional funding). You will see the evangelicals (e.g. City Impact, Destiny, West City) as well as the traditional private schools.

            This talks about some of the politics of increasing funding to private schools.

          • burt

            This funding should be increased so that it is the same per student irrespective of state/integrated or independent school choice. The parents pay taxes and should have the ability to decide where they redeem their ‘social wage’.

            The rest of the argument is emotive ideology picking sides between rich pricks who apparently should pay taxes and receive no education funding and an ideology that allows choice.

            Thankfully the policies of envy party are not making the rules and some fairness has started to return to the funding equation.

            Once we make the same sort of changes for private health care we will be back on track steering a course away from guaranteed to fail socialist govt.

          • Anita


            The Netherlands has an interesting model: public and private schools receive the exact same funding, neither may charge compulsory fees, and neither may exclude students on ability to pay.

          • burt


            That is interesting. Still the Netherlands have always been known for pragmatic policy rather than ideology over common sense.

  6. ieuan 6

    Let’s get a couple of things straight in this discussion.

    Firstly, what percentage of children go to ‘private’ schools?

    Answer 4.1%, that’s right 4.1%, so let’s stop the bullshit that the state system could not accept another 4.1% of pupils if there were no ‘private’ schools.

    Secondly ‘private’ schools are actually called ‘independent’ schools i.e. they are independent of the state system and can set their own curriculum. They do get some funding (more now that National is in charge) but the bulk of their income comes from fees.

    Thirdly, there are also ‘integrated’ schools that are mostly Catholic schools. These receive some state funding and must teach an agreed curriculum and let in some children outside their normal criteria. These came about because of a government bailout of the Catholic schools in the 70’s.

    • burt 6.1

      You miss the point that the majority of students in private schools come from high income neighbourhoods which have very tightly zoned state schools. These are the pseudo private schools that rich folk enjoy at the expense of the poor neighbours. But that’s OK because it is status quo and has no impact on me. Move on.

      • ieuan 6.1.1


        They might be desirable state schools but they are not ‘private’ or ‘independent’ schools. In fact if they are high decile schools they will receive less state funding per pupil than a similar low decile school.

        Move on? Move on to what? I’m sorry if a few facts upset the half truths and misinformation people like to throw around.

        • burt

          No, 4.1% is a national figure. Kids in private schools are not evenly spread over all state school zones. I would have though that was obvious.

  7. Helen 7

    has no interest at all in upskilling workers.

    It’s annoying when Labour activists like IrishCletus here presume to speak for “the workers.”

    They don”t.

    The workers are the victims of the Labour party; it’s us who are crippled by over-taxation to support Labour’s actual constituency; the welfare beneficiaries and the criminals.

    • Maynard J 7.1

      You are too stupid to be in paid employment.

    • Duncan 7.2

      Um… NZ’s tax wedge is the among the lowest in the OECD. Benefit numbers fell drastically under Labour. Crime has been on the decline for the last decade.

      Looks to me like you could do with some upskilling of your own Hels.

    • lprent 7.3

      Not according to the canvassing that we have been doing in Mt Albert. Sure there is beneficiary support especially amongst the elderly. But most support comes from what are clearly working families. After 9 years of Labour government, there aren’t that many other beneficiaries left outside of the superannuiants. I guess that is about to change as National starts retargeting benefits for the benefit of their favourite beneficiaries.

      Now if you want to look at where the Labour support doesn’t come from, ie the opposition in Mt Albert from the right. Try account managers, accountants, company directors, directors, general managers, marketing, personal assistant, project manager, sales rep, travel agent to pick off some of the more extreme examples.

      So what you’re saying in converse is that National represents those. I guess that is who wants funding from the bulk of the tax-payers (ie the ones that Labour represents) to fund their children through private schooling. Why should a factory worker fund any of them to pay for a luxury?

  8. Maynard J 8

    Course categories:
    Art and Design
    Business and Finance
    Computers and IT
    English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
    Fitness and Recreation
    Food and Wine
    Home and Garden
    Languages a-i
    Languages j-z
    Literacy Skills/Writing
    Music, Dance and Drama
    Parent Education
    Personal Development and Health
    Transport Certificates
    Workshop Technology
    Community Development and Training

    Apparently 80% of those are a waste of time and should go. I guess you could argue some are more likely to be taken out of interest but that overlooks the fact that getting educated for the sake of it is a good thing whether or not you use that education (fights dementia, alzheimers, stay healthy, more productive, live longer). Benefits of an educated society are an order of magnitude greater than the cost.

  9. Trevor Mallard 9

    Rather than comment here you guys might want to have a look at my posting on Red Alert. It also has a link to Maryan’s petition. I’m pretty sure we are on the same page.:- http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2009/06/08/chopper-tolley-axes-night-classes/

    On the private school question there is a slightly older blog which calls for a more careful look right across the education sector and asks why we treat overseas owned corporate early childhood providers as if they are community groups_


    [IrishBill: Trev, if I see this kind of blatant link-whoring again you’ll be banned for a week.]

    • burt 9.1


      You have had your hands on education in the past, you must know a bit about this.

      Two questions;

      How did we get to a situation where education outcomes are so badly balanced between genders and why do you think school zoning is a good thing?

      • jarbury 9.1.1

        I’m not Trevor but there are three reasons why zoning is essential:

        1) Allowing kids to go to their local schools. Zoning was actually reintroduced by National under pressure from Remuera parents who wanted their kids to be able to go to Auckland Grammar.

        2) Efficiency. It’s just not efficient to have some schools half empty and others bursting at the seams. It’s a waste of resources and money to have such imbalance.

        3) Planning. When planning for new schools or needing additional funding for existing schools one needs an idea about how many kids might be going there. Without zoning there is no certainty for planning.

        Remember zoning doesn’t say “you have to go to this school”. It says “if you live within a school’s zone they can’t turn you away”. There’s an important difference there.

  10. vto 10

    I don’t see the problem – whether the kids are in private or public schools they should be entitled to state funding I would have thought. Or is it that if you decide to educate your kids in some other fashion you, for some unknown reason, should not be entitled to state funding? Sounds like chips on shoulders to me.

    What is the argument against state funding of children who go to ‘independent’ schools? Is there one? Or is it the usual “class warfare” bollox that prevents a rational examination of the issue.. you know, rich prick like.. envy … etc

  11. insider 11

    IS there any actual evidence that these night school classes do help people into jobs? Any evidence of the socio economic groups they serve? I see a lot of emotive claptrap about how it makes people feel better etc but nothing substantive.

    I feel better after sports training. Can I have a subsidy for my fees please, they are coming due shortly. How about my music lessons? I’ve had to cancel as part of family budget priorities. Will Trevor fund them? Hell, I’ll never make a professional musician but I feel much better for them.

    Point is, a line has to be drawn somewhere, and there are plenty of vocational training avenues available for people needing training that can be far more targeted at those in need. I don’t think these courses in the main fit that bill.

    • jarbury 11.1

      There is evidence that you get good returns from adult community education. Read the report: http://www.crystaladventures.co.nz/ACE/ACEPrice%20Waterhouse%20Coopers%20%20FINAL%20REPORT%20June%2008.pdf

      The estimated economic impact of the ACE sector is between $4.8 and $6.3 billion annually. This equates to a return on investment of $54 – $72 for each dollar of funding. Each dollar of government funding generates a return of $16 – $22, but this is further leveraged through private contributions to the sector, including those voluntarily added such as unpaid volunteer labour.

      • insider 11.1.1

        Thanks Jarbury. To be frank I think those numbers are highly speculative (as I would of any venture making such a claim) and even PwC has some strong caveats on the results. SOmehow I doubt we will see a shrinking of the national pie by an equivalent amount if funding is reduced. I bet better economists than me could drive a truck trhough it

        But if true, then the benefits should be obvious to the participants and they would fund them themselves.

        • IrishBill

          That’s because you believe education is more of a private good than a public good. I (and I presume Jarbury) would disagree.

          • jarbury

            Insider, by that argument shouldn’t we be tolling users of the future Waterview Connection $14 a pop to use the road – as it’s (supposedly) such a worthy use of funds?

      • insider 11.1.2

        Actually Bill I am a strong believer in the right to free education as the great equaliser – so perhaps don’t fit your stereotype. But I also recognise that money is not unlimited and some of the gains claimed in that report appear tenuous to say the least.

        Much of the analysis appears based on studies of the benefits gained from courses like literacy and ESOL (i’m all for prioritising funding of these). But when you look at the profile of courses taken the two largest areas are arts and crafts, and fitness and health. I just do not believe that billions in value is being created by those courses.

        And I was amazed at the low value course participants in the PwC report seem to place on the benefits of those courses.

        • IrishBill

          Sorry insider. A gross generalisation on my part. Given the fact the dollars are finite I’d be interested to see a report justifying the increased funding of private schools. In fact I’d be interested to know if such a report existed.

          • jarbury

            Yeah it would be interesting to see a “return on investment” analysis for that $35 million wouldn’t it Irish?

            I agree that there are limited resources to go around, but education HAS to be a priority if we are to grow in the future and compete on the international stage effectively. You know, knowledge economy and the like.

  12. torydog 12

    I thought tories believed in letting the market decide….so if private schools arent getting the students then they should close…..simply really.

  13. Chris G 13

    I cant believe they’re increasing funding the poor-wee private schools. Well I can actually, its the nats of course they were going to. What a waste of my tax.

  14. Mark M 14

    Everyone in this country is entitled to a free education.
    Every child who goes to a private school is freeing up money for those who go to public schools because their parents are paying for an education that they have already paid through taxes

    If private schools closed there would be a major increase in the education budget.

    Unfortunately the losers in this country who have a bitter hatred of those people who work hard and are successful , dont have an understanding of simple economics.

    • Sarge 14.1


      I would be quite happy to see my tax dollars go towards private schools, provided they began teaching the National Circulum and began accepting every student which is in their zone. If they wont follow the same rules as everyone else, why should they get the same funding.

      • Artie S 14.1.1

        The state is responsible for providing and maintaining a network of state schools, that are open for any young student in NZ to attend.

        Private schools reserve the right to SELECT only the students they want, and to control all manner of policies and indoctrinations in their own way.

        Private education is a very viable (but small) financial investment for the rich, and the general taxpayer does not need to be subsidising the rich.

        As it stands, the private schools seek to scoop off the “cream”: of our country’s academic, sporting and cultural talent with their scholarships – plus the children of the rich with their blank cheques. Leave them to it.

  15. torydog 15

    Mark M, God we are all soooo stupid. Thank god for the rich who can afford to put their kids in private school and get a top up from the taxman, and afford private health care……you know we should organise a rally where all those on benefits get to kiss your feet!!! Doesnt matter the 35 mill could be better spent on say more hip replacements, more knee replacements, or public schools that could have long overdue maintenance done on them. Thank you Mark.

    • indiana 15.1

      You don’t have to be rich to send your kids to private school, I know may people who sacrifice their income/life style to give their kids a better chance as they perceive private education is better that state education.

  16. Quoth the Raven 16

    I think a quote related to this topic from Murray Rothbard would serve this thread well:

    Take, for example, the State universities. This is property built on funds stolen from the taxpayers. Since the State has not found or put into effect a way of returning ownership of this property to the taxpaying public, the proper owners of this university are the “homesteaders”, those who have already been using and therefore “mixing their labor” with the facilities. The prime consideration is to deprive the thief, in this case the State, as quickly as possible of the ownership and control of its ill-gotten gains, to return the property to the innocent, private sector. This means student and/or faculty ownership of the universities.
    As between the two groups, the students have a prior claim, for the students have been paying at least some amount to support the university whereas the faculty suffer from the moral taint of living off State funds and thereby becoming to some extent a part of the State apparatus.
    The same principle applies to nominally “private” property which really comes from the State as a result of zealous lobbying on behalf of the recipient. Columbia University, for example, which receives nearly two-thirds of its income from government, is only a “private” college in the most ironic sense. It deserves a similar fate of virtuous homesteading confiscation.
    But if Columbia University, what of General Dynamics? What of the myriad of corporations which are integral parts of the military-industrial complex, which not only get over half or sometimes virtually all their revenue from the government but also participate in mass murder? What are their credentials to “private” property? Surely less than zero. As eager lobbyists for these contracts and subsidies, as co-founders of the garrison state, they deserve confiscation and reversion of their property to the genuine private sector as rapidly as possible. To say that their “private” property must be respected is to say that the property stolen by the horsethief and the murdered [sic] must be “respected”.

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