Catherine Deveny

Catherine Deveny

Bio: Catherine Deveny is a writer, comedian, columnist and the mother of children in public schools.

How I Am Going To Save A Million Bucks Without Even Trying

Remember those How Much Is Your House Worth headlines? They were big weren't they? We won't be seeing those for a while. How much do you reckon your house is worth these days? I'll bet you a tank of petrol it's worth less than two chocolate bars for three dollars. People loved those How Much Is Your House Worth lists because they could open the newspaper and feel as if they'd made money by doing stuff all.

I've just done some quick sums and I'm up $676,600 minimum. No private school fees, no private health insurance and no wedding. Three kids at a private school for six years ($540,000 that's just the basic fees excluding building funds, uniforms, balaclavas etc). One wedding ($40,000 is the average price). And basic private family health insurance until the last kid reaches 18 years old ($96,600). That's not counting the cover before the babies were born or the out of pocket expenses for any private health treatments or private health care after the kiddies leave home. Which I hear they don't do these days. Stuff em. They can keep sharing a room and sleep in bunks until they do.

The look on their faces when I tell people who send their kids to privates school this? Priceless.

That amount is net, not gross. Before tax I could be saving closer to a million bucks. All by doing stuff all. Bonus! I'm a financial genius

People are being sacked left, right and centre, the economy's on life support and if it weren't for Father Kev and his $1000 a head per child stocking filler the kiddies would be waking up on Christmas Day to hessian bags full of phlegm. What a breath of fresh air it is to have something other than gloom and doom in the paper. Private school fees are going up. Fantastic. About bloody time. Double them I say. Other things on my wish list? Shoot on sight laws for people who use leaf blowers, more fat chicks on telly and spot checks to locate people whose remote controls out number the books they own without pictures. I'd be open to re education camps where necessary.

Back to private schools and why I'm rapt the fees are going up. A survey of calls to the Sensis 1234 directory service from May to October showed that requests for state schools are up 372 per cent. Yippee! More kids at state schools. More funding, better schools and happier parents because they're not slaving their guts out to pay for a school with a blazer to impress their friends and compete with their adult siblings. Happier kids because they don't have to be on a train at 7.15 and because their parents aren't as stressed out. Hooray for the financial crisis

Just so we're clear this page is called opinion and my opinion is private schools should not receive any government funding. If people want to send their kids to a school that is a social, single gender and/or religious ghetto in attempt for them to meet the "right" people, keep away from the "wrong" people, live out the dreams of their parents or continue some unbroken line of inherited bigotry they should pay for it themselves. Every. Single. Cent. The government reckons it's supporting choice. Funding private schools encourages, finances and promotes intolerance, inequity and social aparthied.

The more expensive private schools are the more people will come back to government schools. Jack up those prices. Get the kids back to the local and find out that it's about what's best for kids and not about having something for your kid that you consider better than what everyone else's kid has. "Oh yes, Kenneth goes to Up Your Grammar. It costs $5000 more than the school you send your kids to. Oh yes, I know what they all cost. Not only does that prove we love our child more than you love yours but it also proves we're richer than you and therefore better. And you know what the best thing about our school is? No poor people."

Education is the whole society's responsibility because we're a society and the outcome of education effects us all. It's wrong and unfair for any child to have a better financially resourced school than another. It's wrong and unfair for some teachers to work in better conditions than others. Lucky for the 70 % of us who send our children to public schools we understand that a school is not their education. And that diversity in the classroom, excellent government funded education and well-rounded kids are the key to a clever country, a tolerant community and a modern society. And saving a million bucks.

Printed in THE AGE on 10th December 2008