Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Outright economic prejudice

Auckland Grammar has evicted 45 school zone cheats. Ordinarily, I wouldn't pay any attention to this sort of story, filing it as one of the oddities of Auckland, except that it has revealed something rather disturbing. And that is that you can't send your kids to Auckland Grammar if you rent:

Any family renting in the Auckland Grammar zone must have a fixed-term rental agreement of at least 12 months. The school refuses to accept students living in homes on a periodic tenancy.

A periodic tenancy being what most people who don't own their own homes - and most of the poor - have. The upshot is that Auckland Grammar rejects poorer children within its zone, on the basis that they don't really live there, while still allowing those whose parents are rich enough to commit to paying a year's rent to buy their way in. It is outright economic prejudice, and if its not illegal for a state school to do this, it bloody well ought to be.


Yes, a strange one, and perhaps an element of ABGS being a law unto itself (again). From memory, a lot of tenancies start out as fixed term (6 or 12 months being fairly typical) and thereafter become periodic. Indeed, this is "automatic" unless the parties involved agree otherwise??

Posted by dc_red : 8/16/2006 01:24:00 PM

The Grammar obsession is one of the peculiarities of Auckland. It's seen as a way into the establishment.

Amusingly, Grammar failed to make Metro's list of the Top 25 Auckland schools this month. The list did give points to schools that outperformed their decile, but still included a cluster of the traditional "top" schools. Just not Grammar ...


Posted by Russell Brown : 8/16/2006 01:41:00 PM

Naturally I don't have first-hand information on the Grammar enrolment scheme, but I find it difficult to imagine that they would refuse entry to a pupil living in the zone on a periodic tenancy where that tenancy had had already been longer than a year.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 8/16/2006 01:46:00 PM

I saw this. I think it's illegal - the school has an obligation to enrol any student living in their "home zone". As far as I can see, if a student is actually living at the address - even if under unusual family circumstances, then unless they're clearly going to move away then the school can't expel them.

Posted by Rich : 8/16/2006 03:40:00 PM

I reckon this is a pretty blatant political move on the part of Grammar, to get across the point that zoning is evil. The principal pretty much said as much on Nat Rad this morning - blaming the government's insistence on zoning for the need to expel these people.

Posted by Span : 8/16/2006 04:16:00 PM

Span: because schools like Grammar want is the ability to select students, rather than students selecting them. And the result will be to even further entrench inequalities of opportunity. Marvellous.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/16/2006 04:24:00 PM

zoning IS economic prejudice in a way. after all grammar zone is really expensive unless you rent a closet or somthing (which is what I used to do).

maybe that is what they want but does zoning really deliver the opposite?

Posted by Genius : 8/16/2006 05:55:00 PM

I think you will find Grammar has always taken its local obligations seriously. the problem is those wealthy parents who take out a six month lease around enrolment time. Kids who have genuinely been in the zone will not have a problem. And I would bet you that none of those kids thrown out are living in the zone at this time. That would be illegal.
And I speak as someone who despised Grammar when a schoolboy

Posted by sagenz : 8/16/2006 08:48:00 PM

I believe the motivation here will have been to prevent people renting in zone for a short term purely for the purposes of getting a child into the school, then leaving as soon as the process is completed. This sort of thing really does happen (even for Christchurch Boys', believe it or not) and it's very difficult to prove. I suspect the economic prejudice is an unintentional consequence of zealously trying to practice the zoning system. As Rich points out, it seems rather dubious because it could exclude legitimate in-zone students.

Zoning isn't a good solution to the problem of who gets to go to which school, but it's better than the alternative. Where zoning tends to preserve income disparity between different suburbs, open enrolment tends to accelerate it.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/17/2006 09:09:00 AM

When I was a kid in England and they abolished selection (in my area), instead of turning the Grammar school non-selective, it became the Sixth Form college for the area.

The result is that students in the state system go to one of the former secondary moderns for their 11-16 (compulsory) education, and then (if they stay on) to the former grammar for 16+. This worked well - not least because 6th form had a much nicer atmosphere without conscripted students!

Posted by Rich : 8/17/2006 10:05:00 AM

I/S: I agree absolutely about zoning as a mechanism for schools to have the power, not families. Kind of like the 90 day dismissal bill would give the power to the employer not the employees. Anyone spot a trend?

Posted by Span : 8/17/2006 09:04:00 PM