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The perennial issue of the private funding of public education has been thrown into the public arena by the demands of principals and School Councils for the introduction of compulsory "fees" into public schools. The power of principals to charge and collect such fees is part and parcel of the new privatised public "Schools of the Third Millennium" (or is it Delirium?)

When the Victorian Federation of State Schools Parents Clubs and the Victorian Council of State School Organisations questioned the erosion of "free education" in this State and pointed out that State School parents are subsidising public education to the tune of  $1000.00 per child, the Minister ignored them.  Instead, he went off with principals and representatives of the Government funded School Council organisation (ASCIV) which promotes charging of compulsory fees, and came up with a set of Guidelines.

In the Executive Memorandum No. 029/99 :Parent Voluntary Contributions and School Charges- Amendments to the Schools of the Future Reference Guide " we read that

"Parent Voluntary Contributions and Schools Charges now replaces the existing entry into  he Schools of the Future Reference Guide."

This document limits the funding provided by governments to instruction in 8 key learning areas and the "main operating costs associated with the education of students".

Table 1 lists "Government Funded or Subsidised Facilities, Materials and Services"

This includes, Staff; Teaching materials and equipment; Special Purpose programs etc. "

But it should be noted that the government regards itself as "Subsidising" public education, in the same way as "private "education is subsidised. This Victorian Government does not consider itself RESPONSIBLE for the provision of free education to Victorian children

Furthermore,  "Charges which do not relate to the instruction itself are not prohibited by the Education Act  1958. "

So, Principals, and Schools Councils can charge parents for a variety of charges.

There is no mention of the principle of "Free Education". The Government has underlined, and legitimated the erosion of this concept by the practice of recent years where parents have been forced to fill in the gaps left by inadequate government funding! The document continues:

"As in the past, parents will continue to be expected to pay for materials and services which are not instruction. "

Table 2, identifies those items for which parents are expected to pay or to provide.

*School Uniform

*Student textbooks, including hire or access to class sets of textbooks and print/resource material in lieu of textbooks.

*Student requisites/stationery

*Materials for programs/electives where the student consumes or takes possession of the finished articles

*Student computer printing above basic requirements

*Programs provided by outside specialists

*Official diary/handbook/work planner

*Camps/excursions which are integral to the curriculum and that all students are expected to attend

*School identification cards

*Locker charges.

*Graduation dinners

*Class/individual photographs

*Religious instruction materials

*Student accident insurance

*Canteen services

*School concerts, performances and productions

*Internet access for recreational or non-school use

*Camps/excursions that are options

*Hire/lease fees including music instruments;notebook computers

*Extra curricular programs

The above list is in reality  a list of involuntary contributions or fees which will enable Principals and School Councils of the ASCIV variety to divide and delineate children in public schools into first and second class citizens with first and second class educational opportunities.


What then are "Voluntary" Contributions in the Victorian Government "privatised Public Education" Scheme?

Table 3 lists examples of these:

*Building Fund

*Library Fund

*Co-operatives*Equipment Purchases

*Grounds beautification


This list represents the "extras" which only wealthy schools with wealthy parents could contemplate.
So Mr Gude is quite happy to leave behind any concept of "equality of opportunity" and underline the gross inequalities developing in our competitive society.

Pity our poor children !  Pity our poor Parents!as Mr Gude, his Principals, and his ASCIV  insist that "use pays".

In conclusion, it should be noted that this document is a very revealing one. It demonstrates the depths to which the Victorian  Liberal Government is prepared to go in the withdrawal of government funding and support for the most basic inheritance of our children - a free,compulsory and secular public education system.

It is time that parents and citizens told Mr Kennett and Mr Gude, through the ballot box, that they pay taxes, and expect to have those taxes used for their proper purpose. Such taxes should not be diverted, in their billions of dollars into private church coffers. Nor should parents of children in public schools be punished for their patronage of the public system by being forced to tax themselves again and again for educational opportunities for their children.



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Last modified:Tuesday, 23 August 2005