Treehorn Express July 16


Treehorn was a normal every-day primary school child who started to shrink…so much so that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody took any notice….parents, teachers, principal. He came to grips with the sad reality:  that adults don’t take any notice of a child  of primary school age. You know its true. I know it’s true. We only have to think about the introduction of Naplan testing imported into Australia from New York that is having a frightening effect on schooling in this country. You also know that. You’d have to be blind and/or deaf not to. But….we don’t care enough to put it right. Our haughtiness and neglect are exposed in the small charming book by Florence Patty The Shrinking of Treehorn.


Do you know what controls our children’s schooling?

Greed. Greed for money.

Murdochgate [British style] has revealed an interesting scenario.

Joel Klein, the New York lawyer –  [who proudly gave our Prime Minister and all Australian schools the bum-steer of a  useful ‘hard-data system of schooling’ – Klein’s description –  based on fear of failure in the so-called ‘basics’] –   was assigned by the Murdoch team last week to provide “strategic guidance” in the telephone hacking scandal.

Rebekah Brooks, who ran the British section of the Murdoch publishing empire before her resignation on Friday [15 July], sent out a memo to her troops, two paragraphs of which say:-

“People have asked if it is right for me, as CEO of News International and as the Editor of News of the World until January 2003, to oversee our efforts to assess allegations, address serious issues and prevent them from happening again.  I’m determined that News International does this.”

“For the avoidance of any doubt, however, the News Corporation independent directors agree with James Murdoch’s recommendation that the Management and Standards Committee, comprised of Will Lewis, Simon Greenberg and Jeff Parker, report directly to Joel Klein in New York. Joel is leading and directing the Company’s overall handling of this matter.”

As the Canberra Times  said last week, “Be careful not to gloat over Murdoch’s discomfort.” Yep. We schoolies know that the Murdoch business in Britain is now in safe hands, if the making of a fortune  is the name of the game. Joel Klein is good at his job. If the future of newspapers and TV productions  becomes dicey, Rupert takes heart. The publishing of school tests and on-line learning can be much more profitable. That’s the way we are heading, kiddies. Britain is in the cross-hairs. It’s vulnerable. The world next. Did you think that the whole sorry saga of changing the New York and Australian schooling systems was about helping children learn? Come off it. It’s money, money, money.

Last year, Joel Klein left “the turmoil of NYC  schools”, as it is generally described,  to join Murdoch’s test publishing business in New York. His annual salary to do this was cited at $4.5 million. Blanket testing in schools is very, very big business, so this wage is peanuts. Test publishing for American schools is a most profitable part of some of the US’s major papers. If you want to know who is making the big bucks from test production and publishing in Australia right now…and someone is… your local state politician will find out for you.  ACER used to.

Maybe you still think that schools are for schooling!!

It has been suggested that Murdoch has a vision of schooling that involves heavy integration of on-line learning with system-wide testing. That’s where the real money is. Britain awaits. Think of the volume of commercial material and its value.  It involves the carving of all school subjects and other curriculum issues  into fine incremental activities, with self-testing and corrective devices and cheat-free national tests, as teacher-free students in the main  work their way through each web-site.  Its advocates see a huge potential for secondary school subjects of the measureable kind. Its application is limitless; and his writers will have full control of curriculum content, of course.  Bye bye, national curricula.

Before we see world schooling change from the present warm and caring, achievement oriented learning-support schools that we have, to real hard-data ones, each country’s  blanket testing schemes will have to cease now.

Before schooling becomes totally commercialised, the immoral, unnecessary, curriculum  shrinking, costly, soul destroying tests have to be judged. They need to be judged by practising teachers on ethical and professional grounds. National blanket tests are  corrosive. Don’t you think so ?  ….or don’t you care ?

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point


07 5524 6443

Please help our school children to regain the freedom to learn.

Things will get worse.


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