Mike's Minute: Why do we keep messing with our schools?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Oct 2020, 10:10AM

Mike's Minute: Why do we keep messing with our schools?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Oct 2020, 10:10AM

So zoning is back, school zoning.

For as long as I can remember zoning has been a mess, and the reason it’s a mess is there is no answer.

Should you get access to your local school? Yes? Well, if you're school is good, then the house prices will rise as the wealthy gather in the area and price others out.

Should schools be able to accept people from out of zone? Yes? Well, the good schools will cherry pick the bright ones and the kid next door to the gate who isn't 1st XV material will have to go across town because his local is full.

And so it goes.

This time round the government is having a couple of cracks. They're getting rid of deciles, which may or may not make any difference at all.

And then the Ministry of Education has a population issue on its hands, and wants to save money on new classrooms and planning so wants to readjust zoning.

There is ideology at play as well. They hope what they call "white flight" will stop and the schools that aren't all that desirable will eventually get filled up.

But here is, and always has been, the problem with ideology like this, the whole thing is driven by unionism. Unions dominate education and they dominate it under the false pretence that all teachers are equal, and therefore they should all get paid the same based on time in the classroom.

As a result of that simple and yet catastrophic mistake, schools form reputations. Generally, they're formed by principals, the good ones insist on high standards and seek good teachers. Good teachers want to work in good schools. Good schools by in large are supported by good communities. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Everyone has a vested interest, standards lift, and reputations are created. People will pay to live in the areas where good schools exist. This doesn’t suit the unions, the Ministry ideologues, or the governments like Labour who are owned by the unions, but nevertheless it is true.

Create all the zones you want, make locals go to local schools, but all that will happen is those who can afford to move when they work out their local isn't up to much, will. Those who can't afford it are stuck.

You solve nothing. If you really want to reform education join the real world and pay on performance, incentivise good people to be better, and reward schools to improve.

Pretending everyone is the same and you can dictate where people get educated is the ultimate example of delusion.