Monday, August 27, 2012

Homeschooling on my mind - again...

No, I'm not thinking of homeschooling Ari, or pulling any of the boys out of school, but nonetheless the topic of homeschooling is on my mind again.

In recent times I've happened on homeschoolers without looking for them. I've been out of the homeschooling loop for a few years now, but in May I ran into an old acquaintence from a homeschooling group we used to attend. Late last year one of my eldest son's friend left school in year five to be homeschooled because the primary school was unable to meet his needs. Last month I met a friend of a friend who is homeschooling - something I only discovered after we became Facebook friends. Then last week a friend of my second son left school - again in year five - to be homeschooled, though she is still attending school for sports and art.

I have other friends who homeschool, so I never completely lost contact with homeschoolers, but I guess the most recent contacts have been more and more from unexpected quarters, people who don't seem 'alternative', but there you go, that's just my projection showing, isn't it.

Recent changes to funding, in Victoria at least, seem destined to encourage the growth of the 'private-private' education sector. As money is taken from public school funding and poured into the private sector, I believe more and more parents will find dissatisfaction in the underfunded public sector, while still not being able to afford private education.

I've heard arguments that 'equality in education' means the Federal and State governments should put equal funding behind each student in Australia, regardless of whether they attend public, private or independent schools. This is somehow supposed to make private schooling (supposedly the 'best' sort of schooling) more viable for the working and middle classes.

That argument is based on the idea that governments will subside private education for parents, but that would only work if private schools deduct the governments' contribution from their exorbitant private school fees... They don't and they won't.

So, private and independent school parents pay large fees, which the school pockets and then the governments contribute more money, which the schools pockets. Private and independant schools continue to gain ground in the education stakes - more and better resources, facilities and prestige. Parents pay as much as ever for private education. Those who couldn't afford private or independent education before still can't afford it...

However, the biggest loser in this scenario is the public school system which loses money (because governments regig their education budget rather than simply increasing them to accommodate the private sector), who must attempt to maintain the same standard of education on less money - which they simply cannot do.

In this scenario I predict homeschooling is set to become ever more mainstream and common.

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