Reading Readings

The Treehorn Express

 Treehorn story?

Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

The Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australia.  Our recently introduced Australian schooling system is based on one introduced to a New York school district by a lawyer, Joel Klein. in 2002 and copied by Australia’s Ms. Gillard in 2009, without consultation or examination. Mr Klein now heads the Murdoch test-publishing company worth billions. Australian test-freaks are amongst his disciples.

Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which separates ‘haves’ from ‘have nots’ and opens the door for mega-bank-rolling by known curriculum vandals for control of school-based learning. That’s why it exists.

It disrespects school pupils, devalues teachers’ professionalism, forces States to prescribe school texts and teaching strategies and threatens Australia’s future. Why does Australia support it? Weird.


Looking forward to teaching in 2012 ?

“Gosh. The first few months at our school it’s just NAPLAN, NAPLAN, HAPLAN. What do you think?”  [Sat. Jan.14]


Reading Readings

If you hear someone say “I haven’t got time to read.” you know, straight away, that they are not very good at their job…be they classroom teacher, school administrator, principal, senior school officer, banker, clerk, big-business CEO whatever. Take their professional opinions with a packet of salts.  It’s a sure sign that they cannot manage time…and time is their most precious resource. If they don’t read about their job, they need to seek another one…pronto.

It is really quite noticeable that the most outstanding school principals and teachers are those who read a lot of professional articles  and general literature.  If I was to name the most outstanding school principals that I have known over the past sixty years or so, reading-professional-literature would be the most common characteristic; and their habit guided their operations with maturity and plain common sense. It was so noticeable.

One of them [Bert Townsend] used to copy a short article that impressed him and distribute it to each of the school personnel, about once a week. Not only that, he kept a spare copy for each, bound them at the end of the year and gave the bound second-copy to them for Christmas.

Many will remember the methods they used to catch their readings for university study….the meal table, the bus or car ride, the hiatus between week-end activities. I remember leaving a copy of important university notes in the back-yard dunny where a few minutes each day helped to remember some idea that might prove valuable for the exam. Teaching six grades in a one-teacher school was the other activity that demanded time. There was the odd night when some quote or other was required for an assignment…so, torch in hand, it meant a trip up the back yard to retrieve the most recent document from the sawdust bin. Catch-as-catch-can reading such as this can be fun! One shouldn’t waste those odd minutes. I can now get two hours extra reading each week  on the push bike at the gym…. 2×20 minutes on each of three days. I feel genuinely sorry for those glum faces opposite staring into space for the same amount of time as they pedal away. I can edit Treehorn Express on a gym bike. It’s great.

The present generation of teachers is blessed by  quick access to computer articles.  ‘Answer Sheet’ by Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post and her inclusion of opinions of others, such as Marion Brady, can be read in Bullamakanka or Kumagutsa as soon as it is printed. No need for a sawdust filing cabinet. Australian readers can, as they read, substitute ‘NAPLAN’ for ‘NCLB’ or ‘RTT’. It’s so easy…and wonderful….and informative.

And we can share so quickly and easily. Allan Alach of North Palmerston is the most prolific reader and sharer that I have ever known…and what he reads and shares is so ‘spot-on’. He is amazing.


This week John Saint-Smith provided TTE [The Treehorn Express] with a telling 11 page article by Joe Onasko : 

John also asks,”How can our education leaders ignore this kind of evidence of the costly failure of high-stakes testing in the US over 16 years. Obama’s scheme is more of the same and the results are no better. Is their motivation as transparent as that of the American financial establishment which appears to be investing in education only to make profit at the expense of children and teachers, in an attempt to quell the opposition to their manipulation of the economy which arises from a properly educated electorate.”

The article itself provides this abstract: “President Obama’s Race-to-the-Top [RTT} is a profoundly flawed educational reform plan that increases standardisation, centralization, and test-based accountability in our nation’s schools. Following a brief summary of the interest groups supporting the plan; who is currently participating in this race; why so many states voluntarily submitted proposals; and what features of the plan are most problematic, eight arguments are offered as to why RTT is highly detrimental to our country”.

You will read this in the 11 page article. Only busy people will find the time to read it all, as experience shows.

[Below are “The Eight Reasons why RTT is a Profoundly Flawed National Reform Plan”.  The term ‘NAPLAN’ replaces ‘The Plan’ to suit Australian conditions. ]

  1. NAPLAN’s focus on high-stakes testing and accountability to raise achievement in math and language arts has a track record of failure.
  2. NAPLAN creates a false saviour in charter [aka private] schools.
  3. NAPLAN creates hostile-school environments, undermines teacher-student relations, and inflicts the greatest harm on students in greatest need.
  4. NAPLAN narrowly focuses the educational goals and energies of school personnel on two learning outcomes at enormous opportunity cost.
  5. NAPLAN demonizes teachers, reduces the status of the profession, and ensures that many of our most talented and motivated young people will not become educators.
  6. NAPLAN undermines the intellectual, social, aesthetic, and emotional engagement and development of students.
  7. NAPLAN threatens the entrepreneurial vitality and economic future of our country , despite, ironically, support from corporate Australia.
  8. NAPLAN threatens our democracy due to students’ reduced capacity for informed decision making.

Is there a ‘well-known’ or ‘established’ Australian ‘educator’  or organisation [e.g. APPA] or politician [e.g. Peter Garrett] that would care to contest any one of these statements? 

Informed parents would like to hear good reasons for their children to enter the contest in May. [e.g. Louise and friends. TTE 10 Jan.2012]



There is a group of people presently preparing a ‘bundle’ of short papers that highlight the use of NAPLAN in schools.  It will be readily available for all to read. It should be first-rate as Professor Margaret Wu, David Hornsby and Lorraine Wilson are amongst the writers. This is exciting.

The bundle should be available in time for political parties, interest groups, journalists, schools and principals to decide if they want to continue sitting on the fence.  2012 is crucial for some decisions of this kind to be made. After all, the federal elections are scheduled for 2013 and such decisions can’t be left to the last minute.

That’s my opinion, not the writers. WATCH THIS SPACE.



The next issue of Treehorn will contain a list of very useful sites for really busy professionals to read.They probably know about them already. Most sites are easily accessible with lots of short comments and fun to read. It is probably too rude to suggest to those who are ‘too busy to read’, or just fence-sit or mugwump as NAPLANners prepare for the May assault, think about finding another job. Yes, it is too rude. “Stop urging, Treehorn!” “Stop it kids.”


If you have 4 minutes 17 seconds to spare from your busy schedule, click on the theme song “Care for Kids” above, relax and ‘take in’ the words. It’s quick meditation. Enjoy.

Other Treehorns ? There are 68 of these on this site. 

Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443


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