Friday, July 07, 2006

MacDonald's sponsored schools?

I don't mean to pick on Lindsay, as I've said in my earlier post, she's no troll and her views appear genuine. However, her latest comments on private funding for school education are typical of the simplicity of arguments. Lindsay describes as dingbats the Victorian teachers union who express concern about the potential for a company like MacDonalds to have a funding partnership with a public school. She doesn't elaborate on her dismissal of them, or even address their arguments, nope, they're just dingbats. Classic ad hominem.

I actually think public/private partnerships are a useful device for financing major infrastructure development (though you'd have to wonder which investment firms would want to work with NSW Labor given the cross city tunnel disaster), and I think local industry should have a good working relationship with local schools (Labour's Gateway programme is a classic example, School Based New Apprenticeships in Australia is another) however I can't see how public/private partnerships make sense in the ongoing funding of schools? Besides this, surely there's an obvious risk around conflicts of interest. Do public schools want to promote MacDonalds? What about Rothmans? Or Lion Nathan?

5 comments:

proud2bkiwi said...

Sponsorship and business support for local schools is great, and should generally be supported. The government has a responsibility to provide schools with an adequate level of resourcing, however that is never going to be enough to do all the things a school will want to do, so any funding from outside sources should be welcomed.

A real question is whether government should set guidelines as to what funding schools can and can't accept. Generally speaking I think that is a matter of judgment for the individual schools concerned. However I do have issues with firms like McDonalds, Coke, and Cadbury using school sponsorship as a way to hook kids into their products at an early age...

crasster said...

If it is accepted that education is a core government function, then it needs to be funded to an appropriate level. I disagree with the concept of significant private sponsorship creeping into education. For a start, private sponsorship allows the government to start backing off funding education. Secondly, if you look at places like the US, where such private sponsorship arrangements are more common, you'll find an unsurprising correlation between sponsorship and higher socio-economic schools. It's the highly motivated, well-educated suburban schools that tend to attract sponsorship - while the inner city schools tend to be overlooked. Taken in combination with the first point (where the government has started to back out of funding - in part because of private sponsorship - then the inner city schools (where real investment is needed) get overlooked.

backin15 said...

p2bk, I'm with crasster on this one with the caveat that gifts and charity are excepted.

I completely agree with the argument that if compulsory education is a function of government, and there aren't many modern western states where it's not, then it ought to be appropriately funded. I also agree that its important to avoid the risk of conflicts of interest/goals; it is not core business of corporates to provide education though I do think they should be actively engaged in what the education system produces (and in some instances that engagement should extend to input into curriculum).

proud2bkiwi said...

I don't think we are that far apart, I agree that adequate funding for public education is a societal responsibility, and we meet that through the government. However, if businesses want to add a bit of icing on the cake, that's just fine to. Are you suggesting that schools/students should not accept scholarships from businesses (as they have done for decades) or that a new school swimming pool or gymnasium (which may not fit within government funding guidelines) should not be built if the only way to fund it is through sponsorship? What about advertisments in school magazines and newsletters? What about Telecom's Friends of the School?

backin15 said...

We're not far apart at all, no. I do think corporate sponsorship for additional facilities etc, as you've suggested is fine (in fact fantastic and to be encouraged). But a basic level of funding, sufficient for core curriculum etc, must remain the responsibility of the government. I don't have a problem with private schools, like I don't have a problem with PTEs and private hospitals, so long as they're complementary to a level of public service that is not sub-standard.