Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The zoning debate rages on - in my mind at least

The media has continued to publish articles about zoning and enrolment since my last post about John Morris - principal of ABGS. What strikes me is the lack of analysis and suggestion as to how to solve this situation from within the education sector

Todays Herald highlights the enrolment cheat issue, while the editorial misses the point completely by attacking the egalitarian zoning system by arguing that it raises real estate prices in the area - curiously the National party does this too - Bill English released this inspired press relesase which says absolutely nothing and adds sweet FA to the arguement - its a shame that National seem to be missing this very good oppotunity to attack zoning policy, which they should as a matter of course. National just seem to be happy to have their lackies (ie John Morris) push it like a cracked record for them.

What is worrying me is the lack of leadership here - okay lets suspend reality and say that I accept that zoning does not work (where I think it does) Where is the alternative - vouchers that Maxim institute are supporting? The NZEI have argued here that this is old news.

Choice does not exisit with or without zoning - without zoning choice only really is a consideration for those who have the cultural capital to make it so, for example without zoning good students from South Auckland are still not going to get into ABGS because they don't have a 'hotline' to the principals office.

Those who are complaining about a lack of choice now would be the ones complaining the loudest when they can't drive to take their child from Kohimarama to ABGS because the traffic is gridlocked with other parents in SUVs going to the same place.
If we accept there is a problem we need to talk about viable solutions - and the reality is is that in a publicly funded sector like education there will never be true choice for parents. I don't buy the arguement that we should simulate a market - we want choice without really appreciating what choice actually means.

We have an obligation to make sure that all schools are of high quality and that schools are not made false idols by sheep like parents that dont know any better. This probably won't be the last post about this - as you can see, my arguement is not fully developed and I haven't got down to the nuts and bolts of the issue - But what concerns me is that I can't find anyone doing that and as a democratic society we have an obligation not just to complain but also to suggest solutions.