I’ve often wondered whether teachers more or less likely to send their children to private schools, and in surfing through back issues of the Australian Education Researcher, I found at least a partial answer. A 2008 paper by Helen Proctor, titled “School Teacher Parents and the Retreat From Public Secondary Schooling: A View from the Australian Census, 1976-2001”, uses custom-made census cross-tabulations. The results are only for Sydney, but make interesting reading nonetheless.
First, here’s the overall pattern, where the columns are the type of school the child attended.
In both censuses, Sydney school teachers were less likely to send their children to government schools than the Sydney average parent, and they have shifted towards non-government schools at about the same rate as everyone else. About half of all teachers now send their children to a non-government school.
One way to explain this is that teachers parents value education more highly than the typical parent, so spend more on it. But you might also think that part of the shift is due to teacher parents sending the children to their own school (to make drop-offs easier, or maybe to keep an eye on junior in the playground). Just as the share of private school children has grown, so has the share of private school teachers. Usefully, Proctor addresses this by showing a breakdown by school type:
So it is true that government school teachers are more likely to send their children to a government school than are Sydney parents in general. Overall, 58% of Sydney children attend government schools, but among the children of female teachers, the share is 63%, and among the children of male teachers, the share is 75% (we know that men are in general more likely to join a union, so I wonder if this is partly male teachers being more ideological about where their children attend school?). Nonetheless, with about one-third of government school teachers choosing private schools for their own children, you have to wonder how well these ‘public is best’ advertisements play with public school teachers.
Of course, these data are 2001 Sydney figures, so it’d be neat to have some national analysis using HILDA or the 2006 Australian census. It would also be useful to know what happens when you use individual-level data and hold constant parental education, household income, region, etc.