This is the text of a letter I wrote today to the Editor of the Australian newspaper:
Michael Kirby’s astonishing claim (“Kirby draws the line on ‘stolen’ funding”, 5/12) that money provided to private schools has been stolen from government schools must not be allowed to go unchallenged. It is completely disconnected with reality.
The claim that private school funding occurs at the expense of government schools is the product either of wilful obtuseness or ideological sophistry, and Mr Kirby is demonstrably not obtuse.
If all funding currently given to private schools were to be redirected to government schools the vast majority of private schools would have no choice but to close. Around one million extra students, knocking on the door of government schools, would no longer have their schooling subsidised by their parents and the government would need to make up the shortfall. This would amount to billions of dollars extra the government would need to spend on schooling annually; far more than that presently provided to private schools.
By all means support the value of government schooling but in doing so there is no need to make the ridiculous claim that private school funding is at the expense of government schools. It is simply not true.