Letter to the Editor

The following letter-to-the-editor was sent to The Age in response to an ill-informed and unfair comment piece published in the newspaper on Thursday 19 May. 

Unfortunately the letter was severely edited by The Age before publication on Saturday 21 May. 

While the anti-parent-choice brigade and blinkered bean-counters work on sinister conspiracy theories (The Age Comment, 19/5), the public needs to know that Catholic schools can’t be accused of over-funding, even when comparing cherry-picked data to try and prove it. 

In simple terms, recurrent government funding sources for Victorian schools are Catholic schools:  78% federal, 22% state; government schools: 20% federal, 80% state.  

Over recent years Victorian governments have used creative accounting to dramatically underfund their part of the bargain, while politicians in Canberra have understood and kept pace with the increasing cost of putting a student through school. That means once chronically under-resourced Victorian Catholic schools are now, on average, six per cent behind their state school counterparts. 

When capital costs are taken into account Catholic schools are nine per cent adrift in total funding terms. These deficits are, of course, covered by parents’ fees, so it is indisputable that Catholic school choice benefits the taxpayer. 

And what about a part of the government funding equation conveniently forgotten: school enrolments. This latest attack based its argument on two ‘roughly matched’ Balwyn schools but failed to mention that the Catholic version is 150 students smaller than its public neighbour. You would think The Age ‘economics editor’ would appreciate the effect of economies of scale. 

Stephen Elder
Executive Director, Catholic Education   

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