Care for Kids; they are being exploited.

The  Treehorn  Express

Treehorn was ignored by his parents, teachers and principal because he looked like being a little nuisance. The author of The Shrinking of Treehorn , Florence Patty Heidi was able to look at the world through Treehorn’s feelings and tell his story so well.  Not too many adults are able to do this. It is not that they lack sympathy or love. They just lack feeling.

Albert Cullum, a primary school teacher, was another author who was  able to see classroom interaction through the feelings of ordinary pupils. His book ” The Geranium on the Window Sill Just Died But Teachers You Went Right On” is described as “a masterpiece, which…should be on every reading list of teachers, lest they forget how children see and feel.”  This book, too, has outstanding illustrations. When the pupil talks to the principal, it could be when He brings the dreaded Naplan tests to the classroom, ready for the ordeal.[Well, that’s what it reminded me of.]

Yes, Mr. Principal,

I will sing your song.

Cheep, cheep,

you are always right.

Cheep, cheep,

you are God!

Cheep, cheep,

cheep, cheep…cheep.


Care for Kids; they are being exploited

‘Care for Kids’ was the theme for The International Year of the Child, sponsored by UNESCO in 1979. It was a year that was intended to focus attention on the well-being of all children in all sorts of situations, in the hope that the caring might last.  It didn’t, as you well know.

Just listen to the catchy tune composed by Australian Peter Best at the time; and, in this case, used at a parent rally in Adelaide last year. Sing along:

It’s all gone. The caring notion has disappeared from the schooling landscape since managerialism drained the teaching-learning act of its effectiveness in the late 1980s and 90s.  Sciolists and the completely-inexperienced took over all forms of schooling. Feelings and care seemed to leak out of systems, world wide. Even professional organisations lost the function of feeling. Wouldn’t the world now be a better place now if children were keen on learning, on achieving as much as possible, able to accept challenges cheerfully, free to learn as much as possible about all sorts of things, free to be creative and appreciative of things aesthetic, musically competent; and real social beings, able to get along with anyone in any circumstance…..and became happier and more competent as the school years unrolled….AND SCHOOLS FELT FREE TO PROVIDE?  Internecine distaste and interpersonal grievances would be unknown.

It was possible. The year 2000 was a target year for all of this. [Refer to summaries of all education and schooling conferences in the 80s and 90s for the detail]  It was on the way.

Then George Bush came along. The world would certainly be a happier and more advanced place if the AASA [American Association of School Administrators] , a professional body of 14,000 education leaders, CEOs and School District leaders, had told George B to jump in the lake when he introduced the evil NCLB in 2001.  The Association had the chance and blew it.  Later, so-called professional associations in other countries also sat on the fence or followed the Klein-call.  Bugger the kids.

The exploiters moved in, demanding that schools emphasize a few measureable basics. The rest of the curriculum did not matter. The geranium died as teachers approved this movement for hard-data accumulation through fear-driven schooling by their non-feeling inaction. It was sad to witness.

Back to the 1979 CARE FOR KIDS theme.

The Year of the Child emphasised the UNESCO Declaration of the Rights of the Child. 

It became International Law. We have to ask ourselves if fear-driven schooling and the treatment of pupils as test scores for nefarious reasons is not a breach of International Law by themselves. But there’s more…


The declaration says that the child must be enabled to …”develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.

“The child, for the full and harmonious development of personality, needs love and understanding.”

“ The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. The child shall be given an education which will promote a general culture and enable the child, on the basis of equal opportunity, to develop abilities, individual judgement. and a sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society. The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for  education and guidance.”

“The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation.”

“The child shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that energy and talents should be devoted to the welfare of others.”

CONSIDER that the hard-data blanket testing regimes, first introduced into the USA in 2001 and known by various names in a number of countries, is so obviously cruel to children, neglectful of their holistic progress and renders them to numbers on programs; all designed to destroy their self-respect for the sake of measurement. In view of the Declaration of Rights, some governments and their henchmen have to be legally culpable.

The big-time exploiters are now making the most of the toxic conditions and plan to introduce multi-billion programs that destroy ‘freedom and dignity’; using the created circumstances [Kleinist tactics in Australia, for instance] for the sake of profit.

Surely these exploiters must be charged for the breaching of international law enshrined in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

But, how are the legal processes initiated?  Does UNESCO initiate?  They presented the charter to the UN. Who knows?

The money-hungry exploiters certainly need to be judged for their proposed treatment of children. Who dares?



1. Worth billions, who will get the Murdoch franchise to set-up and peddle the high-digital programs and equipment in Australia?      ACER ?     ‘The Australian’ ?

2. What do our learned societies [e.g. ACEL and ACE] think; and what will our professional organisations [e.g. APPA and ASPA] do?



Kleinist : –  Sounds pretty good to me.

Mugwump : –  Who cares ?

Eichmannist :- I’ll just do as I am told.

Classroom Teacher:- How do I teach my kids to learn how to learn and love it with all these blanket tests and set digital programs and machines everywhere/ Give me a break.


Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia  2486

07 5524 6443

Garn. Don’t be such a mugwump.

Let THEM know what’s going on; and that you disapprove. 

Care for kids.

Mugwumps & Other Dangerous Animals

“until the evil blanket testing is “dead, buried and cremated”.

The  Treehorn  Express

Our little hero, Treehorn, the victim of being ignored by adults, is gradually being noticed….sometimes for the wrong reasons. Rupert and Joel can see the little kids, Treehorn’s age-peers, as the source of millions and millions of dollars. They have already turned them into numbers and test scores, easy prey now for  cyber- learning, computer monitoring,and low level teaching-learning strategies. Barack, Julia, John [Key] and David [Cameron], of course, see these children as footballs to be kicked as often as possible and to be used, used, used.  Their blatantly political task is to set things up for the mega-powerful.  As politicians, they certainly show little regard for child justice or even long-view national welfare.

However, the number of those who care deeply about children and who examine all the consequences of these corporate and political assaults seems to be growing. Concerned about the threatened dismantling of public schooling, basic learnacy. curriculum offerings and high-level achievement, they read a lot and have much to offer. They share across national boundaries. They have to deal with the surplus of mugwumps as we do. There is light.


Social Justice for School Children

Today [25 September] is Social Justice Sunday. The term, ‘Social Justice’, says social worker J.Lee, may never be fully defined, but he offers the following : – “Social Justice generally refers to the idea of creating society based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being”…..except school children.   I added  that extra bit, because their humanity continues to be devalued. In the countries mentioned above, they remain as numbers to be measured and scored and exploited.


Are You a Mugwump?

The term ‘mugwump’ used to be a respectable term in the 19th century. Google it. Then, it then came to mean ‘turncoat’; and finally, a jocular term that means “…a person who sits on the fence with his mug on one side and his wump on the other”.  In the field of education there are millions of them….a few million in Australia alone. Treehorn knows.

If you click you will find an extract from a first-rate web-site  run by Dr. Bob Valiant

In the article, he asks politely if you have considered whether you are a mugwump or not. He refers to…

* The estimates of costs of testing in the US to be in excess of hundreds of billions of dollars [and billions in Australia], with no improvement in blanket testing scores. He asks, “Where do you stand on the continued mandating of standardized test? Are you a Mugwump, or are you supporting your position?

*Federal political parties and their departments follow each other in requiring states to conduct tests with stricter accountability rules for teachers and usurping of state control of education. States do the police work for the federal officers. He asks, “Where do you stand on the Federal takeover the local schools? Are you a mugwump, or are you actively supporting your position?”

*To obtain money, states have to agree to increase base teacher and principal accountability on the standardized test scores of the students [ so-called value-added analysis], participate in the implementation of national core standards, and use assessments based on the national standards. “There is no evidence that state or national standards increase achievement level of students or close the achievement gap between high and low SES students despite more than ten years of trying. The same is true of the use of standardized tests as either a carrot or a stick.”  He asks, “Where do you stand on using federal dollars [your tax money] to fund so-called innovative programs in a vain attempt to reach set requirements? Are you a mugwump, or are you actively supporting your positions?”

* “National, state and even local requirements are resulting in a narrowed curriculum, lower graduation rates, increased student stress and lower teacher morale. The federal emphasis on reading, writing, and math has resulted in the loss of opportunity in science, social studies, art, music, and vocational courses as students are trained to pass the 3-Rs bubble tests….Many  members of the American Pediatrics Association have spoken out against [blanket testing] because of the physical and emotional toll it seems to be taking on many of our children. Study after study conclude that pressures coming from [blanket testing] result in significantly lower teacher morale. Where do you stand on the continued application of [blanket testing]? Are you a Mugwump, or are you actively supporting your position?”

“Are YOU a mugwump?

Why are you sitting there?

Write a letter to the editor, contact your local member and a senator, copy this article and send it to friends and colleagues.


Get you mug and your wump on the same side of the fence.”

[Adjusted for Australian conditions. See original.]


Slower mugwumps who want an excuse for inaction can take their pick…..”I don’t have time to read. I’m too busy.”   “It’s all Yankee stuff.”  “Everybody is happy at my school. I don’t need to do anything more than I do. Parents don’t care.”  “People don’t believe how much management/non-education stuff I have to deal with each day.”  “I like a competitive spirit. It didn’t do me any harm.”  “Things have changed since the old days.”  “My superiors would not like it.”   “I have no choice as a teacher or as a principal.The Department supplied us with a Code of Ethics for us. I have to follow it.”   “Don’t you know that professional timidity and cowardice are pandemic diseases.?”   “South Pacific Kleinism is special. They say it’s working.”  “It’s all so self-defeating. I don’t care.” “I don’t have long to go.”  “I’m thinking of getting a job as a truck-driver in the coal fields. Enormous pay packet.”


What Does Rupert Murdoch Want With [American] Schools?

Quite amazingly there are folk who believe that what happens ‘up-over’ does not always repeat itself ‘down-under’; and that, if it happens, it is not deliberate.  Australian historian Robert Manne suggests in the Quarterly Essay that News Ltd. representatives down under are playing “…the role of a ‘national enforcer’ of values that lie at the heart of the Murdoch empire: ‘market fundamentalism and the beneficence of American global hegemony’.”

There are also those, in the education industry, who just do not care if Rupert and his ilk want Australian state and private schools to be run the way that he wants. Not many adults have the ability nor experience to think of what happens to the child in the classroom when high-tech consumes pupil-oriented classrooms; and few adults can think the way that Treehorn thinks; nor dare to. All programs will be heavily computerised, with in-built pupil tracking and heaps of testing, disguised as continuous assessment.

Click on’s_schools The article is sub-titled: Murdoch has made it very clear that he views America’s public schools as a potential gold mine.   For our South Pacific mugwumps, who find reading articles difficult, here is the short article, supplied by Mary E. of Amsterdam, dated 23 September.

Rupert Murdoch’s reputation precedes him – but one thing he’s not well known for is his education reform advocacy. But that could soon change. Next month, Murdoch will make an unusual public appearance in San Francisco, delivering the keynote address at an education summit hosted by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has lately been crisscrossing the country promoting his own version of education reform.

The high-profile speech to a collection of conservatives ed reformers, state legislators and educators is just the latest step in Murdoch’s quiet march into the business of education which has been somewhat eclipsed by the phone-hacking scandal besieging his media empire. (On Tuesday, word of Murdoch’s appearance at Bush’s conference came just hours after reports that News Corp had agreed to pay more than $4million to the family of a 13-year-old British murder victim) But Murdoch has made it clear that he views America’s public schools as a potential gold mine.

“In every part of life, someone who woke up after a 50-year nap would not recognise the world around him….but not in education,” he remarked in May at the “e-G8 forum: that preceded the G8 summit in France. “Our schools remain the last holdout from the digital  revolution”

Last November, News Corp, spent $360million to buy Wireless Generation, a Brooklyn-based education technology company that provides software, assessment tools and data services. “When it comes to K-12 education, we see a $500billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of good teaching.” Murdoch said at the time.

A few weeks before the deal, News Corp. had enticed Joel Klein  away from his job as New York City schools chancellor. As it happens, Klein was already familiar with Wireless Generation, which began working with the NY City schools system during his tenure.

While Murdoch’s arrival in the education business is being cheered by Jeb Bush and other conservatives, the idea of the parent company of News of the World getting into the school biz hasn’t gone over well with the education establishment. Murdoch’s new venture has stirred controversy in New York where this summer the state sought to enter into a $27million contract with Wireless Generation to track student performance. Given Kleim’s hiring, the deal prompted an outcry by those who saw the public school system becoming just another example of revolving-door politics and crony capitalism. (“They chose us because we’re good.” said Wireless Generation’s Joan Lebow.)

In early August New York teachers’ unions demanded that the state rescind its plans to contract with Wireless generation. “It is especially troubling that Wireless Generation will be tasked with creating a centralized database for personal student information even as its parent company, News Corporation, stands accused of gathering illegal news-gathering tactics,” representatives from the state and New York City teachers’ unions wrote.

Wireless Generation had caused controversy even before Murdoch purchased the company. Last year, when New Jersey lost out on millions of federal education funding due to a screw-up on its grant application, the company became the centre of attention. The state, after all, had reportedly paid the firm $500,000 to ensure the accuracy of its application, amongst other things.

Clearly, this sort of activity will spread to Australia and new Zealand. Make no mistake; even with a change of government in either or both places. Rupert rules. He is speaking.

ATTENTION :All Kleinists and Mugwumps and Eichmanns.  Will you feel proud of yourselves, if you allow blanket testing to remain in place? It is plainly cancerous and your actions or lack of,  have supported the ‘re-form’ and opened the door for Rupert and other test publishers [see above for their unproductive intentions]!

I ask you, with all sincerity : Don’t think that such child exploitation is disgusting?

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia  2486

07 5524 6443

I have yet to arrange the many articles that have been referred to me by those who care for kids. Some time soon. Hang in there for the sake of Treehorn and his cobbers.

Thanks for the very quick responses.

until Naplan’s blanket testing is “dead, buried and cremated”.

The  Treehorn  Express

Treehorn spent his youth being ignored. The hero of Florence Patty Heidi’s The Shrinking of Treehorn [Read it to you kids or grand-kids yet? You can purchase it on-line.] is bouncing back. He has asked for some questions that ought to go on an Adults’ Naplan Test. He won’t be so cruel as to publish the results or compare you with others. Treehorn has class. He’s a public school lad. He will even keep your anonymity. Garn. Think some up…or has testing cruelled your creativity? It does that.


Thanks for the very quick responses.

Treehorn’s Naplan Test 

Q.1  In 40,000 words or more, please explain why you give these tests to us. 

[“Do you like the implication,

That it takes some explanation?”]

 Q,2 Where do you live? Please explain.

Stories of National Blanket Testing  [Prof. Brian Cambourne’s idea ]

1. “With apologies for the rudeness, but it’s as close as I can get to the way that grand-daughter ‘L ‘ told me , ‘She [her teacher, a stern but lovely lady] had been hounding and scaring us for weeks. It was tests and more tests.  We were all white and frightened as the tests were about to start. She knew that I was scared more than the others. She came up to me and whispered in my ear, ‘Don’t worry. It’s all bullshit, mate.’ I looked at her. She winked. I got the giggles as did my friends who heard her.  We felt a lot better.’ “

2. This is a very sad story extracted from “Journal for Critical Education Studies. Vol. 9 No.1 P.295-6 . Sept.2011“  It is a story that brings no credit to those who are trying to attach teaching competency to pupils’ test scores.

“The Obama administration is an aggressive advocate of the value-added method and through RTTT [‘Race to the Top’] is coercing states to change laws so that teachers will be evaluated primarily by this method. The impact of this  dehumanizing approach on students, teachers and communities is palpable.  In September 2010, the Los Angeles Times published a value-added formula grading performance of  more than 6,000 Californian teachers. Rigoberto Ruelas, a popular fifth grade teacher of low-income immigrant students in Los Angeles, committed suicide after the Los Angeles Times published that he was a “less than effective teachers” based on his students’ test scores.  Despite the value-added rating of Ruelas, the L.A. Unified School District officially confirmed that Rigoberto Reulas  was a very effective teacher, while colleagues, students and parents report that he was  a very committed teacher and a strong advocate for students.  Many who knew Ruelas claim that he worked long hours and  would often go to students’ homes to visit families and was even known to bring groceries or other household items if there was a need. (Hoag.2010; Watt.4)

What happened to Rigoberto Ruelas  illustrates the destructive nature of current education policy, where teachers, schools and students are reduced to being test scores and their value within the education marketplace is measured by testing achievements. Within this context people are dehumanized, human relationships are devalued, and lived experiences, social identities, hopes, aspirations, socioeconomic conditions, diverse ways of knowing, and learning differences are systematically marginalised. (An.2009)”    {Timothy Scott  A Nation at Risk to Win the Future : The State of Public Education in the U.S. Uni. of Massachusetts, Amherst,  Massachusetts. USA}

3. The story below arrived “For Treehorn and for Us.”   It begs the question : If children pray for success in the Naplan tests, are they cheating ?    Presumably, contestants are not allowed to seek outside help during the test.

Whoever maintains the Measurers’ Code of Conduct or some ardent Naplanners can explain.  It’s tricky. If it is approved, church schools should expect an even larger increase in enrolment applications.

SIMPLE PRAYER  “My son Gilbert was eight years old and had been in Cub Scouts only a short time. During one of his meetings he was handed a sheet of paper, a block of wood and four tyres. It was not an easy task for Gilbert to do. Dad was was not receptive to doing things with his son. Dad read the paper and scoffed at the idea of making a pine Derby car. The block of wood remained untouched for some time.

Then I, Mum,  stepped in. The project began. Having no carpentry skills, I decided to leave it all to Gilbert. He worked on it. I read the measurements and the rules of what we could and could not do.

Within days the block of wood turned into a pine derby car. A little lopsided, but looking great  [ Mum said] . Gilbert had not seen any of the other kids’ cars and was feeling pretty proud of his “Blue Lightning”, the pride of knowing that you have done something on your own.

Then the big night came. His pride quickly turned to humility. Gilbert’s car was obviously the only car made entirely on his own. All the others were father-son products with cool paint jobs and sleek body styles made for speed.  A couple of  boys giggled at Gilbert’s lopsided, wobbly unattractive vehicle. To add to the humility, Gilbert was the only one who did not have a man at his side. A couple of boys from one-parent homes had an uncle or grandfather by their side; Gilbert had “Mom”.

It was an elimination race contest. You kept racing as long as you won. One by one the cars raced down a finely sanded ramp. Finally it was between Gilbert and the sleekest, fastest looking car there. As the last race was about to begin. my wide eyed, shy eight-year-old asked if they could stop for a minute because he wanted to pray. The race stopped. On his knees clutching his funny block of wood, he prayed in earnest for a long minute and a half. Then, “Okay. I am ready”.

As the crown cheered, a boy named Tommy stood with his father as their car sped down the ramp. Gilbert stood with his prayer in his heart to watch his block of wood wobble down the ramp with surprising speed and rush over the finish line a fraction of a second ahead of Tommy’s car.  Gilbert leaped in the air with a loud  “Thank you” as the crowd roared in approval. The Scout Master came up to Gilbert with the microphone and asked, “So you prayed to win, Glibert?”  To which my young son answered, “Oh, no sir. That wouldn’t be fair to ask God to help you beat someone else. I just asked Him to make sure I didn’t cry when I lost.”

He’d asked God to give him strength in the outcome….and he walked away with his Father at his side.”    by Peggy Porter.


Apologies for the previous presentation on The Treehorn Express . It comes up a lot better on Allan’s: –

Click it and have a look.

Expect a number of readings next. The above contributions are warmly appreciated.  I expect more from Treehorn’s friends. You!

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia  2486

07 5524 6443

Validity & Reliability of Tests

until blanket testing is ‘dead, buried and cremated’.

The Treehorn Express

If Treehorn, the hero of Florence Patty Heidi’s The Shrinking of Treehorn. was to set a test for those adults who constantly judged him and made certain assertions about him and his condition…as pro-Naplanners are wont to do with all children…one has to wonder just what questions he might ask! Would you care to send some to me at  ….apart from the obvious :”Why don’t you take any notice of me?”

Please send one or two or more. I‘d love to list them.


Validity & Reliability of Tests

Blanket testing is a device used by the unprincipled and inexperienced to annoy children, with whom they won’t or can’t discuss individual learning progress.

{Called NCLB in U.S.A.; National Standards in N.Z.; National Testing in the U.K.; Naplan in Australia}

The tests pretend to measure some half-dozen or so hard  competencies of young children, too intimidated to explain anything to anybody.

Even though they know of its evils, the unscrupulous use their findings to make gross statements about pupils’ general competencies, teacher ability and over-all school performance. They allow the publishing of the names of the ‘best’ schools and the ‘worst’ schools.

These classroom sciolists, camp followers and professional illiterates believe that the testing is valid and reliable ; and that the tests can distinguish the holistic differences between children, teachers and schools accurately. They have the political power to pretend. Basic professional ethics, human child feelings and parent concern just don’t matter.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Since I am a convert from an earlier-generation Kleinism [fear-based schooling], I can describe blanket testing with such politeness. I didn’t worry about the validity or reliability of those term and annual tests that I gave to pupils in my developmental-principal years. Tagging kids with numbers and scores was good enough for most parents. That’s all they seemed to want. Since then, wider experience, deeper professional reading and a colleague-developed, deeply-entrenched ethical standard have assured me that such blanket tests are useless, evil and dangerous. They should not exist. They tag everything with numbers!!

Now…with reform-based Kleinism,  those, more expert than I, believe that the validity and reliability aspects need to be considered more deeply than they are…

Professor Brian Cambourne, Australia’s distinguished literacy guru says:

This acceptance [especially by the media and education bureaucrats] has given NAPLAN high ‘face’ validity with the general public and this face validity has been conflated to equate with what psychometricians call ‘construct’ validity. Nor has what some new breed psychometricians call ‘consequential’ validity ever been researched. (Consequential validity addresses the question ‘Are the consequences of applying this test worth the pedagogical costs of using it?’)

Brian goes on to express the hope that the community itself would come to question the validity of NAPLAN. He expresses concern about…

1. The number of kids who have been classified as “failing” or “poor” readers who are avid effective readers of complex books, web sites, etc. I’ve a;lready met a number of parents and teachers who look at their children’s NAPLAN results and shake their heads in amazement because they know that these kids are very effective readers. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could somehow collect and share hundreds of these stories?)

2. I’ve seen some eye-movement comparisons of effective readers and ineffective readers reading normal book-based or paper-based text of appropriate level and standardised test texts. The evidence is that reading the standardised test is a substantially different process from reading a “normal” text.

3. One school I visit is worried that its kids did poorly in the spelling section of NAPLAN, yet in their writing at school they clearly demonstrate high spelling ability. Have you looked at the spelling section if NAPLAN? It’s not a test of the kind of spelling knowledge that supports written communication.

Brian reckons that if he could find $50K for the eye-movement technology mentioned in#2 above, he could collect some VERY HARD data which shows just how invalid NAPLAN is. Anybody know a mining magnate or CSG operator who could spare this amount out of Petty Cash?

He believes that there is a need for  detailed research into the nitty-gritty details of the processes and assumptions underpinning the construction, use, application and scoring of NAPLAN type tests.

Seriously, if you have the address of a philanthropic rich person who is looking for a children-benefit project…why not send him this Treehorn and highlight this section. You never know! It seems that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.

Thanks to Dr. Marian Lewis of USQ, support for this view comes from the U.S…..

Whoever Said There’s No Such Thing As a Stupid Question Never Looked Carefully at a Standardized Test

It can’t be repeated often enough: Standardized tests are very poor measures of the intellectual capabilities that matter most, and that’s true because of how they’re designed, not just because of how they’re used. Like other writers, I’ve relied on arguments and research to make this point. But sometimes a telling example can be more effective. So here’s an item that appeared on the state high school math exam in Massachusetts:

n 1 2 3 4 5 6

tn 3 5 __ __ __ __

The first two terms of a sequence, t1 and t2, are shown above as 3 and 5. Using the rule: tn = (tn-1) plus (tn-2), where n is greater than or equal to 3, complete the table.

If (a) your reaction to this question was “Huh??” (or “Uh-oh. What’s with the teeny little n’s?”) and (b) you lead a reasonably successful and satisfying life, it may be worth pausing to ask why we deny diplomas to high school students just because they, too, struggle with such questions. Hence [Deborah] Meier’s Mandate: “No student should be expected to meet an academic requirement that a cross section of successful adults in the community cannot.”

But perhaps you figured out that the test designers are just asking you to add 3 and 5 to get 8, then add 5 and 8 to get 13, then add 8 to 13 to get 21, and so on. If so, congratulations. But what is the question really testing? A pair of math educators, Al Cuoco and Faye Ruopp, pointed out how much less is going on here than meets the eye:

The problem simply requires the ability to follow a rule; there is no mathematics in it at all. And many 10th-grade students will get it wrong, not because they lack the mathematical thinking necessary to fill in the table, but simply because they haven’t had experience with the notation. Next year, however, teachers will prep students on how to use formulas like tn = tn-1 + tn-2, more students will get it right, and state education officials will tell us that we are increasing mathematical literacy.[1]

In contrast to most criticisms of standardized testing, which look at tests in the aggregate and their effects on entire populations, this is a bottom-up critique. Its impact is to challenge not only the view that such tests provide “objective” data about learning but to jolt us into realizing that high scores are not necessarily good news and low scores are not necessarily bad news.

If the questions on a test measure little more than the ability to apply an algorithm mindlessly, then you can’t use the results of that test to make pronouncements about this kid’s (or this school’s, or this state’s, or this country’s) proficiency at mathematical thinking. Similarly, if the questions on a science or social studies test mostly gauge the number of dates or definitions that have been committed to memory — and, perhaps, a generic skill at taking tests — it would be foolish to draw conclusions about students’ understanding of those fields.

A parallel bottom-up critique emerges from interviewing children about why they picked the answers they did on multiple-choice exams — answers for which they received no credit — and discovering that some of their reasons are actually quite sophisticated, which of course one would never know just by counting the number of their “correct” answers.[2]

No newspaper, no politician, no parent or school administrator should ever assume that a test score is a valid and meaningful indicator without looking carefully at the questions on that test to ascertain that they’re designed to measure something of importance and do so effectively. Moreover, as Cuoco and Ruopp remind us, rising scores over time are often nothing to cheer about because the kind of instruction intended to prepare kids for the test — even when it does so successfully — may be instruction that’s not particularly valuable. Indeed, teaching designed to raise test scores typically reduces the time available for real learning. And it’s naïve to tell teachers they should “just teach well and let the tests take care of themselves.” Indeed, if the questions on the tests are sufficiently stupid, bad teaching may produce better scores than good teaching.


1. Cuoco and Ruopp, “Math Exam Rationale Doesn’t Add Up,” Boston Globe, May 24, 1998, p. D3.

2. For examples (and analysis) of this kind of discrepancy, see Banesh Hoffmann, The Tyranny of Testing (New York: Crowell-Collier, 1962); Deborah Meier, “Why Reading Tests Don’t Test Reading,”Dissent, Fall 1981: 457-66; Walt Haney and Laurie Scott, “Talking with Children About Tests: An Exploratory Study of Test Item Ambiguity,” in Roy O. Freedle and Richard P. Duran, eds., Cognitive and Linguistic Analyses of Test Performance (Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1987); and Clifford Hill and Eric Larsen,Children and Reading Tests (Stamford, CT: Ablex, 2000).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Next Issue

Since the holiday period allows more time for deep professional reading, I hope to concoct a list of appropriate readings that you might enjoy. Aren’t we lucky these days to have so much available at our finger-tips [so to speak] that gives meaning and pride to the teaching-learning enterprise?

Don’t Forget

Can you send a question that Treehorn will put on his test for his adult ‘carers’?   AND  If you do know the address of a magnate or person who might sponsor research into aspects of NAPLAN mentioned above, you can send it to me, if you prefer. I shall send it on. It could help our kids and show them that we like them.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point  2486

07 5524 6443

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State Schools & NAPLAN

Until the sickening, Kleinish national blanket testing is “…dead, buried and cremated.”

The  Treehorn  Express

Treehorn is totally confused by the reporting of the Naplan results. He is surviving the rituals of Year 3, hoping that NAPALM NAPLAN will burn itself out by 2013 [Year 5 & Election Year]. He checked himself out. Ho hum. Last May, wasn’t it ? There was nothing much to talk about this week, it seemed, after the Clueless Report on Assessment Procedures [as his teacher calls it] seemed to reveal itself for what it is. Then the big guns came out!   Duck,Treehorn!..if you attend a public state school.


State Schools & NAPLAN

Naplan purports to measure and give reliable scores on about half-a-dozen bits of number and some general aspects of language like reading, spelling etc. to act as benchmarks for those schools whose pupils can’t, or aren’t allowed to,  evaluate their own progress. Held in May the tests seriously affect learning and classroom management in Years 3,5,7,9 throughout Australia.

I hope that you can truly appreciate what happens.

Newspapers have stated bluntly or hinted over the past few days, that some schools are better than others because of these  NAPLAN ‘scores’.


1. A major Gold Coast newspaper even had a black-board displayed on its pages with a list of  the ‘Gold Coast Best Year 3’ and ‘Year 9’.  Yes. That is the way that it was displayed. Five schools in each category were mentioned.

Also, believe it, there were, for all to see, ‘Gold Coast Worst Year 3’ and ‘Year 9’. Please hold on to that dyspeptic impulse. Each was listed!

Because I have read a lot about Gold Coast schools over the years, I notice that most of the ‘worst’ have been mentioned in honourable dispatches in the same newspaper quite often for all sorts of achievements. My grandchildren attended one. Most are known as good schools, honoured and applauded by their school parents; and none deserved to be publically branded as ‘worst’ of anything, especially because of a petty political testing regime.

Because I love and admire the work that teachers and parents do for children in schools that cater for all children of compulsory school age, I felt pretty ill. Seldom squeamish, I truly did. I did.  I was more than extraordinarily dismayed….that this sort of thing could happen in an honourable, civilised society… encouraged by parliamentarians of all flavours…supported by the silence of professional groups and teachers associations!

What happens in an ordinary classroom every minute of every day to try to help children develop and grow and to love learning, to challenge life and achieve whatever they do to the best of their ability, is enormously complicated; but it is beautiful and extraordinary. An everyday classroom is far too complicated for anyone to make any hard-fisted assessment about any one of the million bits of it. Don’t our pollies and their Kleinist supporters realise?

2. The newspaper article was introduced by a statement; “Industry insiders said the improvement of certain public schools on 2009 results was the true measure in assessing …[improvement]”  Who said?  What? How come?   Nuff said.

3. The principal of one of the ‘noticeable improvers” [Yes] fessed to focussing on the tests; and had changed the culture of the co-operative, multi-age teaching/learning design to one of single-age, one teacher units.  Nuff said.

That’s how things are going, Folks.  The Kleinists second-hand salesmen are winning.  Don’t you care?



If you click on  or google “The Slekar family stands up and opts out”, you will read the story of a couple who withdrew their children from testing and why they did. Because of the way that laws are framed it seems to be more difficult to withdraw your child from testing in the U.S. than it is down under. All that we have to do down here, is write to the Principal.

In the first comment on this article, you will read, “In reality these tests are not about our students. They are designed to provide numerical justification for replacing our public schools and educators with a private educational system.  The ‘industry insiders’ [-see above-] and the growing number of those who are behind the manufacturing and implementation of standardised tests have become brazen  in their deliberations that schools must be run like businesses and be run by business interests. The big-dollar  power-houses behind blanket testing are publically recording their ultimate goal. Profit.”

Yep. Profit. That wraps it up…nothing whatsoever to do with improved schooling.

This commentator further illustrates . Cut a 1 cm. square piece out of the Mona Lisa and use it to describe her haunting beauty and the magic of the artist’s brush. That’s what we do with Naplan testing. Read the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

National blanket testing like Naplan makes us sicker and sicker,

doesn’t it?

Please share this around.

Naplan Results Out

Until Naplan blanket testing is ‘dead, buried and cremated’.

The  Treehorn  Express

For more recent readers, I had better explain who Treehorn is. He is the hero of Florence Patty Heidi’s The Shrinking of Treehorn. The lad keeps shrinking and shrinking, but no adult takes any notice. His Mum, his Dad, his Teacher, his Principal all take as little notice of him as they can. They notice that he exists, but that’s about all.  Despite his desperate condition he is treated ‘with ignore’ to the highest degree. That’s why I chose him. Treehorn and his present-day age-peers are almost totally ignored by the same groups of people when it comes to school policies everywhere. Parents, teachers and principals do not give a hoot whether young school children are treated badly or not. They even allow child-worrying, fear-driven, torturous tests [which serve no good purpose] in the schools, when a simple “NO’ would save endless heartache for their young ones.


For those who care about school kids [& one or two who don’t] 


Private Schools Win

Ho Hum.

Thank you linesmen, thank you ball-boys.

Cost ?  A little above $50m for the few items this year …$261m over 5 years if it lasts so long.  Waste? [I wonder how the kids in East Africa are going?’]

Public Interest ? Low. Very low. Round about Page 7 newspaper stuff. No TV.

You have to wonder, don’t you?  Does this mean that Kleinism is a flop?  What the blazes is going on ?



An article written by Steve Denning [ Forbes Management Magazine], and forwarded by Ken Gilbert of TheGrowingEdge Consulting Service says clearly “…the biggest problem is a pre-occupation with, and the application of, the factory model of management to education, where everything is arranged for the scalability and efficiency of ‘the system’, to which the students, the teachers, the parents and the administrators have to adjust. ‘The system’ grinds forward, at ever increasing cost and declining efficiency, dispiriting students, teachers and parents alike.”

When “…the education system is seen to be in trouble, there is a tendency to think we need ‘better management’, or ‘stronger management’ or ‘tougher management’, where ‘management’ is assumed to be the factory model of management.”

“The methods are known to be failing in the private sector, because they despirit the employees and limit their ability to contribute their imagination and creativity.”



Kleinism is well established in Australia. As the epitome of factory model management, what are its essential elements?

1. Children learn best when frightened by test results.

2. Teachers teach better when frightened by test results.

3. Competition between teachers, schools, districts, states helps children to learn better.

4. Public pronouncements frighten authorities into trying to do better on blanket tests.

5. Blanket tests are the best way to measure children’s school progress.

6. Money is no object.

There are many other elements, but these are the stand-outs.

There has been wide support for these from some sections of the teaching service in Australia, since it was introduced in 2009.

Damage is difficult to calculate, but it is wide-spread and it IS really enormous.


Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia  2386

07 5524 6443

Hey Aussie Parents. Do what US and NZ  parents are doing. OPT OUT NOW.

[That’s if you care]

Naplan is Flopping. U.S. Parents Opt Out

 Until Naplan  blanket testing is “dead, buried and cremated”…

The Treehorn Express

Help is coming, Treehorn. You have had your ups and downs what with your shrinking and skin-colour  problems, as revealed in Florence Patty Heidi’s The Shrinking of Treehorn. And, your school friends have had to get used to fear-inducing mass testing demons, over a couple of generations…. but parents are starting to object at last, and rally – big time. Parental care and concern is showing first in the U.S.A. This is surprising as testing has been endemic to its school culture, since the beginning of the 20th Century when Binet, a French psychologist made a big mistake and invented what he called measures of intelligence. When Simon joined him, the measurement thing got out of hand. It was a band-wagon and we all climbed aboard without realising how much damage we were doing. Supervising educrats, unwittingly I‘m sure, led us astray, and encouraged the notion.  We became almost obsessed with giving test after test after test on as many school curriculum items as we could test. We didn’t need to do it to find out how well the pupils were doing. Even a mug teacher knows his pupils well enough.   Now the really big mugs now do it with a really big stick, en masse; and say that they are helping children to learn.. Come on.!!!!!…how? ….four months after the dirty deed!

I was one of a generation that gave lots of blanket school tests. Sorry, sorry, sorry kids. I just didn’t realise the seriousness of my actions at the time….that I was doing great damage. Sorry. sorry, sorry. I’ll try to make up for my inadequacy by encouraging parents everywhere in the world, not to have anything to do with blanket tests. PLEASE PARENTS, help to protect your children and your children’s children from the insidious evil..


Naplan is Flopping. U.S. Parents Opt Out

Naplan results hit the news stands in Australia on Saturday 10 September, four months after the test, with the impact of a feather.  They used to say that such  blanket testing makes pupils learn better. I beg yours !!  You work it out. There’s no such indication.

Looks like the testing didn’t frighten the kids into doing much better at the things that the measurers thought was important.  Brisbane’s  Courier Mail had a little article about Naplan cheating. That’s all. No other comment until the SMH mentioned that NSW was declining in achievements despite committing $261m over five years, including an extra 900 teachers.  The CM cited instances of correcting papers before despatch, giving copies out early etc. as examples of ‘cheating’. Riveting news!  If that’s cheating, what do you call spending long periods of time before the tests, practising for them? What do you call those simony freaks who make money preparing booklets for practice? Don’t they deserve headlines and editorials? Shouldn’t they be sin-binned in rubber rooms ? Aren’t they the really big, greedy cheats?

If the tests are intended to provide reliable information to measurers, surely such practices breach the ethics of measurement. People do become skilled at pushing bell-shaped curves out of shape. They need monitoring for accountability more than teachers do.

It is certain that only the measurers  and their disciples enjoy the exercise. Their efforts are a great educational waste of time and money and the test results provide nothing useful for the competing pupils. Yes. It’s just a dictatorial imposition on valuable school time by political Kleinists.

If I was a school Principal with deep concern for my reputation and that of my school, forced to give the learning-useless tests I would take every opportunity to cheat. I would tell teachers that they were not to teach anything else but numeracy and literacy items for all of March and April…unless the topic was special. We would call it Cheating 101. No Phys. Ed., Art, Music, Social Studies. These subjects can be easily removed from the time-table for a while.

Why do this? I figure that if any school-ignorant-outsider invades my professional space and I can’t do much about it, anything goes. This is a war of ethics. Stay away, measurers, if you can’t observe your own set of standards; if you can’t play clean, why should I?

Professionally, I would feel really bad about having to do this. But then…

As a school principal I want to guard my pupils from dangers of all kind. One of the biggest threats to present day schooling is the manipulation of the basic curriculum  and the dilution of associated teaching and learning techniques for political purposes. The secondhandedness of imported Kleinism is the basis of Australia’s mediocrity. We could have donkey-licked Finland in whatever it is supposed to be good at, had we thought about it and had bothered to indulge in that time-wasting PISA comparison. We just make it too tough on principals who are in an ethical spin.

In Australia, we call it Kleinism, defined as ‘fear driven learning’ after its New York founder, Joel Klein, who proudly claims to have introduced it down under. The idea is, that, if your pupils don’t do well in the test, you and your school are made to feel disgraced; and all sorts of sanctions are imposed by Klein-oriented authorities.  Klein, as an educational innovator, is galaxies away from  people like Dewey, Goodlad, de Bono, Piaget, Montessori and our local breed of schoolie; and yet his influence is  profound. His school expertise can be written on the back of a postage stamps in large font, but millions of children in Australia are stuck with his peculiar ideas.

Parents are waking up, however. They are noticing. May God bless them. They really want their children to love learning, to achieve at the highest possible level [not the Kleinist-type mediocre limited targets] and to accept a challenge of any kind without fear, to grow and develop in a healthy school atmosphere; and to carefully evaluate and share their own progress at every step of the way.

Parents can withdraw their children from the testing program at any time, of course.  Mum or dad can do it right now….and of course they bloody-well should! They only have to write a note to the Principal of their school, as many did last year.  Do it now, Mum, and help to get rid of the stupidity.

Nor is there anything wrong with the distribution to parents of Years 3,5,7,9 pupils of a form asking them to give approval or disapproval. It’s democratic. A professionally ethical school would also have the question on its enrolment form; and withdrawal forms available..

A very large and popular parent movement in the USA is called United Opt Out. You know about it.  It is nationwide and has representatives in each state. It now has an outreach in New Zealand and Australia. It is there to help. Follow it . Together we can succeed. Remember the success of the United4kids and the march on the White House of 8000 parents and teachers. recently?


Okay ? Let’s OPT OUT


Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point  2486

Australia  2486

07 5524 6443

Please take this seriously.

Please follow the UnitedOptout links that were provided by Allan Alach.

Please free the kids from pedagogical heresy.

Parents Opt Out

  Until  Naplan is “dead, buried and cremated”…

The  Treehorn Express

Treehorn is a little primary school lad who kept shrinking. Nobody took any notice. Treehorn concluded that adults don’t take any notice of what happens to young children. They just don’t care. We can find endless examples to support Treehorn’s view. How  many adults, for instance, gave two hoots when [then] Minister Gillard changed, in 2009, from the well established, highly–regarded Australian system of schooling to Joel Klein’s NY system of fear-driven schooling. Nobody worried..It was a dramatic transformation….changes to a country’s schooling system by fiat. The effects on children’ s learning and classroom pupilling have been profound. [See Florence Patty Heidi: The Shrinking of Treehorn ]


Parents Opt  Out

As a former state primary school principal, I have been concerned for many years how children’s learning is handled in Australia. Briefly, I had imagined that, by the year 2000, children would be taught to be so keen on learning and achievement and accepting learning challenges of all kinds, that they would be bursting a boiler to get to school each day, because of the learning opportunities there. They would want to share their learning efforts with parents, friends and teachers constantly because learning how to learn is important too them. Even though there are some great schools, it didn’t happen generally; and things are certainly moving away from my sort of dream. Kleinism crushed it.

I had, quite sincerely, thought that Principals would hold on to their professional and ethical dignity when Kleinism moved to Australia from New York and tell our political leaders, who introduced it, where to go. They, I thought, were our major pupil/parent- protectors. I have to say that, despite my high regard for the work of school principals, that I am bitterly disappointed.

I shouldn’t lose heart. There is a large number of parents in the USA who are distressed because of what NCLB and Race to the Top [Naplan clones] is doing to their children. 8000 of them marched on the White House recently; and their friends included notables who know what they are talking about. They have been there, done that, and can articulate their feelings.

Allan Alach, a New Zealand primary school principal, told me of a wonderful organisation that is determined to do something to help their own and other children. Treehorn will be amazed and thrilled. It is called UNITED OPT OUT which is encouraging every parent to just write a letter to their school’s principal withdrawing their children from any state-wide testing program. It doesn’t take much. UNITED OPT OUT is located in all 50 states, and their extended outreach is about to extend down under. Here’s Allan’s description of the establishment of a South Pacific link. I hope that you will be enthusiastic as I am and will make sure that you participate to the full….until fear driven national testing disappears from the face of the earth.


Recently, as part of my prowling around the internet looking for ammunition to support our battle against the national standards nonsense in New Zealand, I came across a USA website called :

“United Opt Out National: The movement to end punitive public school testing.”

A quick skim revealed that this was a new site and that it was set up, and administered, by some ‘heavy hitters’ on the US education scene. Some more quick research found that this group also ran a Facebook page:

OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST: The National Movement .

Two things developed rapidly from this point. I sent an email to Phil, drawing his attention to the United Opt Out website, while at the same time I asked to join the Facebook group.  The response was quick and I then posted a message:

“Hello from New Zealand. This is an excellent resource, to accompany your website. We’ve got a similar battle on our hands, trying to stop the government’s agenda to impose national standards on our schools, with the accompanying ideology that is clearly being imported from USA. At the moment, we are dodging a nationwide testing regime but I think that’s only a couple of years down the track. An equivalent Facebook page to this has now been set up to give parents and teachers a voice to counteract the misinformation coming from the government which is propagated by compliant media.”

This also included a link to two New Zealand Facebook pages, that have recently been set up to facilitate our own battle against standards:

National Standards Must Go

Protect (Parents’ Rights On Their Educational Choices Today)

This approach was very warmly received by many people on the Opt Out Facebook page, and led to other similar USA Facebook pages:

Uniting for Kids

Parents & Kids Against Standardized Testing

I posted the same message here, and the response was equally warm, with the same astonishment about the situation here in New Zealand. The rapid connecting of educators with similar concerns led me to the realisation that using Facebook, and other social media, could be a very powerful tool to build a world wide group of educators and parents engaged in the battle to protect public schooling. The image  that came to mind was that of a snowball growing in size as it rolls, not that I’ve ever seen this. Already I have made many new Facebook friends from the USA and we are sharing resources and supporting each other. McLuhan’s global village concept is being used to grow the battle to prevent corporatisation of public schooling wherever it rears its head! How wonderful.

At the same time, Phil had left contact details on the website, and the response was equally swift. Both our approaches were received very warmly, albeit with a considerable degree of shock that both Australia and New  Zealand, long viewed as setting the exemplar for progressive primary school education, were now going down the very limited, restricted assessment/standards based road that this group were fighting.  This was accompanied by an equal shock that the USA was exporting the testing/standards mania to other parts of the world. This concept, it seems, had not entered their awareness.

Phil raised the possibility of a specific section set up to connect to the South Pacific. This was rapidly approved and set up, so that there is now a tab on the United Opt Out website called “Global Outreach” and through that there is a subsection: South Pacific Outreach: Australia and New Zealand. This is still in development, with the aim being to provide a forum for two way sharing of related issues and concerns.

Things have moved very fast over the last week, to the point where Australia and New Zealand’s move to standardised, assessment focussed education featured as a key part of an eastern USA radio show. Listen to this, because there is gold in here.

Such is the power of the interconnected nature of our world, that our Australasian battle is being publicised in the USA, which can’t be bad, and hopefully our support from down under will help our American colleagues in their similar battle.

So much has happened, so quickly, that the potential of this is very clear. I encourage everyone to visit all these Facebook pages and either ‘Like” or ‘Join” as appropriate. Let’s build a huge world wide movement. We don’t yet have links to similar Facebook pages from Australia, Canada, and England, as well as other countries with similar issues, so links to these would be a great boost to growing this ‘snowball’. Together we have great strength.


Thank you Allan. Please don’t miss any of the references. There is some super material.

Thanks to the wonderful staff at for allowing those of us in New Zealand and Australia to join you

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia  2486

07 5524 6443





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You Guys led the Way

Until blanket testing is ‘dead, buried and cremated’…

The Treehorn Express

I suspect that Treehorn’s sad condition of adult-neglect is now being noticed by some adults. Things are looking up. Treehorn, the hero of Florence Patty Heidi’s The Shrinking of Treehorn, and his friends have had a bad time of it at school since the brown-nosed Easy-beat Educators came out in support of their political idols who had demanded allegiance to insane testing, a few years ago . Now…there is a big change in the air. Treehorn!  Keep the faith.  The measurement moguls in all English-speaking countries are being asked by teachers and parents if they realise the extent of the damage that they have done; and the questioning has never been very strident. There are very big movements in the cradle of hubris and haughtiness….our U.S. of A.  More later.  I doubt if the Dudley Do-rights would do it  now, if they were asked [or required] to give public unquestioning allegiance to Julia’s Naplan in Australia; or any support to National Standards in NZ. I reckon that they would not. Determined ethical leadership is on the way.Yes, Treehorn, keep the faith and forgive them their trespasses when national blanket testing is shelved. They are really nice people… just gone a little berserk for a few years.


‘You Guys Led the Way’

On Monday, I had occasion to write to a nation-wide organisation in the U.S. called “Opt Out of The State Test: The National Movement” [Google it], I mentioned in passing to a co-director that Australia had adopted Kleinism [fear-based schooling] in 2009 and seemed stuck with it. I received an almost-immediate reply: –  “Your message is just heartbreaking – I had no idea that Australia had adopted the Klein model. It makes me sick because Australia was the country WE looked to for a good model – you guys led the way! Thank you for your post and we will keep you in our thoughts and hopefully all of us can win this fight.”   P.R.

So, in this Age of Stupid, what does Australia do ? It copies the one of the worst examples of schooling in the USA. You really let him foolya, Julia.

At about the same time that I received my message, Allan Alach, New Zealand Primary Principal, who links through Facebook with the same group, received a message from another director. “How sorry to hear that the country that has been a model for curriculum that is constructivist and which supported teachers to negotiate curriculum with their students since at least the 1930s is being influenced by the U.S.. And your model produces better results #[international tests] than most other countries…. Please resist the imposition of high stakes tests. New Zealanders have all kinds of ways to evaluate/assess their students in their classrooms. Their pedagogy has been influential in establishing holistic teaching experiences for students in the U.S.!   Y.M.G.

Watch this space.

#Test scores and world rankings –Yuk- from the 2009 PISA tests :- Math; New Zealand [519 – 7th place]; Australia[514 – 9th] U.S.[487 – 29th[   Science; N.Z.[532 – 4th] Aust.[527 – 7th] U.S.[502-17th]  Reading N.Z. 4th Aust. 6th  U.S.14th

Summary :- N.Z & Australia were described as being  significantly higher than the U.S. on all three counts …..and then we Aussies copied the way that the U.S. runs things!!!  Australia’s Age of Stupid… indeed .

[‘Yuk’ means that I hate talking about such wonderful learnings in silly numbers.]


A Conspiracy That Too Few Called

When Kleinism was first introduced to Australia by Julia Gillard following heavy chest-thumping by her friend and managerial theorist Kevin [The “They can walk to another school”, outsourcing bloke] Rudd, who, in turn, followed Brendan Nelson of similar ideology, experienced schoolies said that this had nothing to do with learning. “Why did she do it” they asked?  There had to be a reason because there was nothing wrong with Aussie schools. Even on the PISA  tests[# above], Australia ranked amongst the world’s best, so why the hard knuckle? Something screwy somewhere. Was it a deliberate attempt to bring public schools into disrepute, to ensure their decline in reputation; and support the private school sector? Some thought so, but most of us wouldn’t dare suggest it. What was going on?  A conspiracy theory arose. We don’t normally like conspiracy theories, but the theory has gained momentum…with heavy emphasis.  Diane Ravitch* has written strongly on the topic, as you know.

It is undeniable in the US ; denigration of public schooling is part of the whole greed network.  Australia?  Worth thinking about seriously . First thought: Who paid for Joel Klein’s trip to Australia when Julia raved about his schooling system in New York?  Bankers. Well now. Where do their kids go to school? Enough, Philip!!!

Jim Arnold the Superintendent of a U.S. school district has produced a hard hitting article that, with Diane Ravitch, illustrates his conviction that the idea is to divert money to the establishment of more charter [private] school. This out-spoken school chief said,”I struggled with the rest of you as to why NCLB would go to such great lengths to make public education appear to be such a failure, to set up a system that would guarantee failure for practically every public school …on top of that, I failed to recognise why our nation’s legislators so nimbly avoided even the discussion of reauthorization to change what everyone knew was a failed policy. One day it finally hit me.

They didn’t want to change the policy because the policy was designed in theory and in fact not to aid education, but to create an image of a failed public school system in order to further the implementation of vouchers and the diversion of public education funds to private schools.  Click on ‘No Child Left Behind: A Conspiracy etc.’ on the right    OR….try

It’s a good, short, about 2 pages, article and concludes…

“It will take years to undo the damage done to science, social studies, fine arts and other academic electives. Generations will not  be enough to rid ourselves and our students of the testing mania neurosis created by our attempts to quantify the unquantifiable.

I hope the generation of teachers and administrators that follows this one has learned something from the failure of our generation to ward off those determined to destroy public education. We didn’t stand up to be counted, we didn’t stand at the schoolhouse door and tell them that they couldn’t do that to our kids, and we didn’t educate the public about what a gigantic failure another one-size-fits-all education policy would be. In the words of that great educator and philosopher Jimmy Buffet: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”.


Stephen Goldstein calls the whole notion a scam:’stop_the_spread_of_charter_schools_they_are_a_scam


Journalist Maureen Downey wrote a lead into the Jim Arnold article. If one substitutes the American notables mentioned in this foreword with the procreators of Kleinism in Australia, her introduction would read. “The pupils, parents, teachers and mid-level administrators are coming after you, Kevin, Julia, Brendan, Peter G. [and you Peter A., if you don’t declare yourself soon]; and the self-serving fools, charlatans, delusionists, racists and edu-pirates of Wall St. There will be no spider hole you can hide in, from the judgement of history.”

*Diane Ravitch : See some further telling commentary on her Saturday Evening Post article [3 million readers], please click on


Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

Please help our kids. Help to stop further blanket testing.

Ask your political candidates for a commitment.

It’s very, very serious.

American Schools In Crisis

Until national blanket testing is ‘dead, buried and cremated’…

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn was the little primary school lad whom everybody ignored….just as all primary school lads and lasses are ignored.   Florence Patty Heidi’s The Shrinking of Treehorn illustrated the condition well. If Treehorn lived in Australia and was in Year 3 or 5 or 7 or 9, he will be taken notice of this week…not much…just a little bit. His mentors will be too busy patting each other on the back, reading the criticisms in the press, feeling sorry for themselves, talking about testing. The fuss will be over in a week or two. You can wager that the measurement pundits will discuss further ways of improving the tests…being harder or softer or extending them [They love their job].  Some School Principals will ho-hum and some will dare to criticise; at the same time ignoring the connection of blanket testing with genuine teaching and learning. Their conversations will be measurement focussed. There is little doubt that much of the unimaginative discussions will centre on the idea that national blanket testing is a fact of life. It is inevitable. They join Treehorn in the sense that they are so easy to kick around and control. While they might not like it, they have given in to it. Right?

When the Treehorns get their results next week, they will say, “Oh Yeah. That’s the stuff we spent all that time on last May. Fat use it is now.”


American Schools in Crisis

Diane Ravitch is, without doubt, the most respected educator in the English-speaking world. Once the Assistant Secretary for Education in the United States, she is prepared to speak her mind on behalf of the world’s children who have to tolerate the present era of hard-data, fear-driven schooling in the USA, UK, NZ and Australia.

Her article in The Saturday Evening Post 16 August 2011, called ‘American Schools in Crisis’, has drawn endless comments which you will see when you click on

On the front page of the article, there  is a photo – could be a Norman Rockwell painting – of a classroom where the normally screwed-down desks have been shifted around a pot-bellied stove so that the children and teacher can interact in their learning ventures. Below, it says, “In the days before standardised tests, teachers had the freedom to tailor their curricula to encourage pupils to create, innovate, imagine, and think differently [Nov.2, 1946].“ You can see and feel the learning atmosphere in the classroom, don’t you think?.

Here are some extracts, with a little licence like the use of ‘pupil’,  from Professor Diane Ravitch’s  article: –

Our public schools are the bulwark of our democratic society. Over time, they have opened their doors to every pupil in the community regardless of the pupil’s race, religion, language, disability, economic standing or origin. No one has to enter a lottery or pay a high price to gain admission.

With this openness, there is a price to be paid. Our public school teachers have one of the most difficult jobs in society. Their classes include children who are recent migrants, many of whom don’t speak or read English; they include children who have social, emotional, mental, and physical disabilities; they include children who live in desperate poverty.

As our society has changed, the schools have had to deal with escalating social problems. Compared to schools today, the schools of the 1950s were tranquil.

In 2001, after the election of President George W. Bush, Congress passed a law called No Child Left Behind, which changed the federal role in education. Instead of seeking equitable funding, Congress decided that it would impose a massive program of school reform based on standardized testing…..It required that every child in every school must reach proficiency by 2014 – or the schools would be subject to sanctions.

In 2009, the Obama administration launched its own radical reform plan called Race To The Top. It assumes that higher test results mean better education, even when those results have been purchased by intensive test-prep activities…. The promise of Race To The Top is that billions will be spent on more tests, and districts will reduce the the time available for subjects that aren’t tested. Piece by piece, our entire public education system is being redesigned in the service of increasing scores on standardized tests of basic skills.

Not one of these policies – not one – has any consistent body of evidence behind it. The fundamental belief that carrots and sticks will improve education is a leap of faith, an ideology to which adherents cling despite evidence to the contrary.


Now for the crunch…. Professor Ravitch’s final paragraphs

A major report was released in Spring 2011 that showed what a risky and foolish path the United States has embarked upon. The National Research Council [NRC] has concluded that incentives based on tests doesn’t work.

In other words, the immense investment in testing, the NRC commission said, were based on intuition, not on evidence  – and faulty intuition at that. 

It’s important to remember that this is not simply an abstract matter for ivory tower policy wonks to be nattering over. Our present course endangers one of our nations most precious institutions : our public schools. Sure they need improvement, but they don’t need a wrecking ball. Our policymakers obsession with testing has proven to be wrong; not only does it lack scientific validation, but any parent or teacher could have told the policy makers that a heavy reliance on multiple-choice tests crushes originality, innovation, and creativity. As the federal government ratchets up the stakes attached to the tests, they become an even greater burden on pupils, teachers and the quality of schooling. In addition, the higher the stakes, the less reliable the tests become as measures of learning. When everything rides on test scores, schools will encourage “teaching to the test” and even cheat to avoid being closed.

We are now at a fork in the road….The free market loves competition, but competition produces winners and losers, not equality of educational opportunity. We will turn teachers into “at will” employees, not professionals who can be fired  on little more than a test score. Their pay and benefits will also depend on the scores. Who will want to teach?

What we will lose, if we move in that direction, is public education. Just as every neighbourhood should have a good police and fire station, every neighbourhood should also have a good public school.

It is worth remembering that the reason we first established public schooling was to advance the common good of the community. It began in small towns, where communities agreed that all the children should be educated for the good of all and the sake of the future. Public schools have a civic mission. They are expected to prepare young people to become citizens and to share in the responsibility of maintaining our society. As political forces tear them apart, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and for profit, it diminishes our commonwealth. That is a price we must not pay.




Thank you Prof Ravitch for you clear exposition. As one of your teacher-commentators says:  “Ms Ravitch is a saint for writing this article. I get down on my knees and thank God for people like her who may very well lead the call for sanity in educating our best resource, our precious children.She has absolutely nailed it.  …..I am retiring next year due largely to the NCLB and Race to the Top policies. I do not feel like a good teacher anymore. I am simply teaching these babies how to memorise sets of standardised facts and take tests. We are doing a terrible service to our youth.

This article should be mandatory reading for every legislator, parent, teacher, school administrator…hmmmm…. maybe everyone should read this!

Thank you so very much for the wonderful missive! I am deeply appreciative that you would stand up to the system.”                  Carrie T.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

You will agree that this is a fine exposition. Please share it with as many as possible.

Make sure that your local members sees it; and ask them if they will try to have Naplan stopped.

If they won’t, have they got a good reason?