A parent answers: Are Parents Allies or Not?

 The Treehorn Express 

Treehorn story?  http://primaryschooling.net?page_id=1924

Theme Song : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQj-6F7yPM8

The Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australia.  Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which uses the blanket-testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN [its only learning-motivational weapon] to destroy the  reputation of teachers and schools. This weapon was forced on schools in Australia in 2009. It separates ‘haves’ from ‘have nots’ and opens the door for mega-bank-rolling by known curriculum vandals for control of school-based learning. It disrespects school pupils, devalues teachers’ professionalism, threatens Australia’s developmental future and is just no good.  Politely described, it stinks. Although some ‘education’ groups support it, ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, unprofessional, politically driven, unrequested by the profession, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, wasteful and divisive. It has a background of malicious intent.


For further information, click on the official description http://www.nap.edu.au/information/FAQs/index.html  Get it?




This response from Ken Woolford from Toowoomba is a powerful statement.  It is such a pity that  the The Treehorn Express has such a limited clientele [about 150 includling participating hubs]. This is a message from a parent for all to take notice. If this message does not hit home….there’s little hope for kids and their learning.

 Ken Woolford Responds:

I read Les Treichel’s contribution in your last Treehorn and was most impressed by his awareness of the need for parental involvement in any efforts to diminish the negative impact of Naplan type testing. It is gratifying that educators are appreciative of the need for parents to spearhead any resistance. The questions raised by Les do, however, require some comment regarding parents and their current standing within the education culture as it exists in Queensland.

To appreciate where parents might be positioned  in relation to resisting the idea of Naplan type testing it seems reasonable to review how parents are perceived within the structure of the education hierarchy of Queensland.  My own research in the nineties indicated that both parents and teachers preferred that parents’ involvement in schools be focused on meaningful activities in the classrooms. When I discussed my findings with groups of teachers some were angry that any parents would be allowed in the classroom. How many teachers would welcome parents into the classroom as educational partners? How many teachers take seriously professional literature on the why and how of involving parents in the education of their children?  How many teachers would prefer that parents be ‘kept in their proper place’?

In 2006 Dr Kym Macfarlane published her PhD thesis “An Analysis of Parental Engagement in Contemporary Queensland Schooling”(QUT). I would recommend this as essential reading for anyone wanting a non-educator’s perspective of the depowering of Queensland parents by the Queensland Education Department.  Her insightful research and commentary paints a bleak picture of the long standing and ongoing policies employed by Education Queensland to ensure that parents’ input into the direction and content of their children’s  schooling be minimal while being represented as meaningful- that parents be ‘kept in their place”, but nicely so.

Naplan is an example of how Education Queensland has treated professional educators like dogs and parents like donkeys.  No parents were told that the tests were optional because no educators knew they were. I have spoken to scores of senior educators, principals and teachers over the last ten years – not one of whom knew the tests were optional. I found this incredible. Dishonesty permeated the whole department. The so called ‘leaders’ were put on a leash and taught to bark at anyone who questioned policy. The parents were convinced that questioning of policies would only show how ignorant they were. Condescension oozed through the system to the parent body.

That educators would now call for parents to take the lead in opposing any government educational policies (let alone Naplan) could be seen as rather hypocritical when it would seem that the professional educational body as a whole has (a) damaged its credibility through its acceptance of unprofessional policies and (b) cooperated in the isolation and depowering of parents over the recent decades. This last point is an important one, and again I urge educators to read Dr Macfarlane’s thesis before assuming they know what and how parents feel regarding their allotted portion of educational involvement. It has been shown that Queensland parents in the 80’s were misread by principals who assumed that because parents were not complaining  they were therefore completely supportive of their schools. As history taught us – this was not the case.(Please read “Back to Drastics”).

Parents today are more likely to be better educated, better read and wanting to be better appreciated. More often today, both parents see their involvement as crucial in the successful raising of a family. The nature of parenting has changed and is continuing to do so.

The homeschooling parents I have known and worked with have long questioned the purpose of schools. They realised the flaws within the concept of Naplan – and within many other school ‘traditions’- a long time ago. Indeed, they realised it back when ‘professionals’ were first saying that Naplan was not only important but compulsory. So they read the relevant educational literature and they asked questions until they reached the conclusion that the ‘professionals’ did not know what they were talking about. Then, because school staff would not listen to them (remember, officially parents are donkeys) they voted with their feet.

The teaching profession risks losing respect and credibility. It has  given in to government pressure (as did the unions) even though its professional compass tells it that Naplan – and other  educational ‘imperatives’ – have no sound educational bases to them.

Understandably, not many teachers feel they can vote with their feet. But some have. More will need to stand up and speak out if they are to win back the respect of many parents, let alone respect for themselves.

State and Federal governments have been depowering educators for decades. Parents have been ‘put in their place’ whenever they have tried to engage more meaningfully in the education of their children, or have questioned the professional benefit of some policies (one example being the internationally researched and proven pointlessness of homework, research which has made little  impression on schools).  If professional educators feel intimidated in the current climate , how much more so will most parents?

Now we have teachers as docile as puppies and school principals as nothing but government mouthpieces .

(“Increasingly in the UK, it seems, head teachers are being appointed on the basis of their willingness to simply obey orders and comply with meeting government targets and regardless of their lack of interpersonal skills or educational ability.” – from Bully onLine, website of the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line ).

Unions are compliant, and parents are isolated at the end of decades of deliberately fostered exclusion. And educators wonder why Naplan gets legs. Where are the parents? Right where the educational establishment has put them. Somewhere where they can’t be heard, let alone taken seriously. (Again -read Dr Macfarlane’s thesis).

Parents have been left to chose what all of Nature has had to chose for millions of years when environments turn hostile  – to move, adapt or die (MAD). Teachers have already decided to adapt (sadly most of the highly experienced classroom teachers I know have stayed on but ‘died’ professionally).

And so, to those educators who wonder what the parents can do – well just hope they are about to do what few have been brave enough to do so far. Hope that they are about to MOVE. To move away from the schools staffed by professional educators who have felt unable to lead them out of the culture of mindless bullying which has paralysed the educational community for the past decade and more.

And then, when and if the schools have emptied, perhaps professional educators will be brave enough to stick out their tongues at their ‘superiors’ and say “Told you so!” Perhaps they will even give the parents a little pat on the back.

____________________________________________________ Join:  http://www.unitedoptout.com



{Note 3 sections 1….destroys childhood; 2….destroys public schooling; 3….destroys children’s constitutional rights.}

THE FORCE –  ‘Let’s improve the scores’ – is coming to a school near you – soon.

For information on how to withdraw your child from high-stakes blanket testing, contact your Principal,

or just write,

“I don’t want my child to have anything to do with the NAPLAN stuff”.

That’s all.


Other Treehorns ?   Check Recent Posts and Archives in Sidebar.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443



3 thoughts on “A parent answers: Are Parents Allies or Not?

  1. Brilliant post! My daughter is at a Steiner school, now under threat because of the introduction of National Standards in New Zealand. We will be voting with our feet and home-schooling if government policy forces her fantastic school to close. There is no other option; sending her to a school forced to implement National Standards would blight her future.

  2. Harsh words indeed for teachers. I accept the criticism with the rider that if you think life is tough for a parent fighting ‘the system’ from the outside, spare a thought for those of us who attempted to fight from the classroom floor. Parents have far more rights than teachers.
    The only solution is to leave the classroom. Some do that through promotion, others by seeking alternative employment, but the vast majority simply give up their ideals and fall in with the dominating ‘philosophy’. There’s plenty to do dealing with the day-to-day demands of preparing, teaching and correcting for a group of frustrated and unhappy students without worrying about how to draw attention to yourself by being a ‘spoiler’ or a ‘difficult person’. Well do I remember the disdain for the rebels who wasted time by questioning the validity of the latest departmental policy directive. I soon learned not to make the mistake of carrying forward the consensus expressed by one’s colleagues in the staffroom to the staff meeting where their vehement objections would melt into silent compliance.

    The notion of ‘professional teachers’ as rational actors in a free and open educational context is simply laughable – a nice fantasy for spectators and university academics.
    Ken Woolford would do well to read “The Lucifer Effect: How good people turn evil” by Phillip Zimbardo.

  3. Thank you John. I shall read the book. I am, in fact, a teacher who voted with his feet. My and my ex-teacher wife’s continuing support of parents who dare to choose an alternative to the classroom for their children has left us financially poorer but professionally much richer. Ken Woolford

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s