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Private Schools Versus Public Schools: Should -

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(generated from captions) Now to our schools and one of the great arguments of our time. Public versus private. Should your taxes pay for both? And in what proportion. Supporters of public schools are angry. They see a creaking, groaning system desperate for a financial lifeline, and fear their children could be disadvantaged. On the other hand, private school supporters say they too pay their taxes and their students are just as deserving of Government funding. So where does the truth lie? ROCK MUSIC So these are your sporting facilities? Yeah, pretty ordinary, really. CLASSIC MUSIC Is it unusual to have an area like this? No, it's based upon the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. ROCK MUSIC I think that's the advantage of a public education - kids learning to live in the real world. CLASSIC MUSIC I think they send them here because they think they are going to get an all-round education. It's a lesson about haves... $18,000 for the day place and roughly $35,000 for a boarding place. The school needs a new front fence,

it's a dilapidated old front fence. Again, been there since the '60s. Bolstered by expensive fees, elite private schools, like Geelong Grammar, get it all, and that's just fine with principal Stephen Meek. It seems to be fair and right that the Government should give some money to schools like this because our parents are paying taxes and they're not using the State sector.

But is it right that our public schools are virtually left to fend for themselves? When I drive past private schools, you ask me how I feel? I feel sad for the kids here. I look at their manicured grounds and their wonderful facilities prov de that for th ids here and I feel sad because I'd love to provide that for the kids here, and I just think it's so unfair that these kids miss out. Paul Ryan is the principal at Lakeside Secondary College. Sounds elite, but this State school is in one of Melbourne's poorest postcodes. So these curtains for example, I'd love to have the money to replace those. I mean, I've got a quote, about $14,000.

This is our assembly hall performance area for the kids, but if I spend money on this, I can't spend it on some new computers and things,

so that's the dilemma I always face. Just how old are these curtains? These curtains date back to 1967. With fees here just a voluntary $120 a year, public schools throughout Australia desperately rely on Government funding. Nationally, public schools outnumber private schools three to one. They get the bulk of their funding from State governments. While the Federal Government kicks in an extra $3 billion. However, private schools are reaping a $5.5 billion bonanza

from the Federal Government. That's $2.5 billion more than public schools, yet with a third of the students. Overall, private schools are getting $7.6 billion a year of taxpayers' money. And don't forget, this is all icing on the cake. It's revenue on top of the hefty fees they charge for every student. Why, why are we funding elite schools to keep most of us out which they are continuing to do. That money, or at least some of it, should be going to the kids who have least. Jane Caro sends her Year 9 and Year 12 daughters to Sydney's Mosman High. The shocking thing about this Government

is it's giving more to kids who already have more and less to kids who already have less and that's got to be the wrong way round. The reality is that if all of those kids

in Catholic and independent schools throughout Australia, if they were to leave those schools today, the Australian taxpayer would have to pay $4.5 billion a year to educate the same children. Education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson backs Government funding for private schools. Everybody knows that every time you send your child to a non-Government school, you are saving the taxpayer money and you have to put your hand in your pocket to make extraordinary additional financial sacrifices to send them to that particular school. Sylvia Collett is one mum who's had to make sacrifices to move her children from a public to a private school. We don't go on expensive holidays, we keep them very simple. We don't go out to dinner as much as we used to. We have had to save up extra - it is a big expense but we are happy to be here. Hilary and Oliver now attend St Michael's Grammar in Melbourne, part of an exodus from the public school system. attended a p ivate school, In the '70s, one in five children attended a private school, today it's one in three. It was just a very difficult decision to make but that is where I chose to spend my money, you know, it's a choice. That's tragic that we've got to the point where to send your child to a public school

is in some way to define yourself as a bad parent. That is terrifying. We can't match the facilities of the private schools but we still provide a really good education for the kids given the facilities that we've got. Elise Mooney there, crunching the numbers on where your tax dollars go. And we'd like to hear from you