Questions for Political Candidates

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story?

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

Questions for all Political Candidates

There will be federal elections next year.  Why don’t we help to make NAPLAN blanket testing and its consequences the major issue?  It’s important enough; far more important than most issues that persist as being important, but aren’t. Decent schooling establishes and maintains our country’s future.  Our future resides in the children presently at school….and, for sure, things do not look good for Australia’s future if we pursue our present course of fear-driven, numbers-based, over-competitive, gimmick-ridden,  blanket-testing policies that devalue the teaching profession and debase its professional ethics.

We have to ask our possible politicians cum decision-makers if they prefer this sort of  system –  run by banking interests, corporate managers, gullible politicians, test publishers, military personnel, academic measurers …the underbelly of effective schooling … or would they prefer to have a system that seeks to be the best in the world.

It so happens that, in 2008,  we copied one of the worst in the world as we all know.  We could have copied the best. Our politicians at the time  made a monumental mistake. Why don’t we change now?

Finland is the highest performing school system in the world.  Our candidates have to ask themselves and their own party leaders why we didn’t copy its system and structure. It was available. It is based on the very opposite of  New York schooling that features fear.  Finland rejects blanket testing, merit pay, intense competition, over-practice of pre-determined essentials, gimmickry, devaluing the contribution of teaches and mistrusting their professional abilities. It boasts a system based on equity and high respect for teachers. It achieves the highest scores in the world on all PISA {Programme for International Assessment} tests…… even though it dislikes blanket testing, and contested PISA tests just to show the world that GERM destroys useful learning.

GERM is a popular term for Global Education Reform Movement, undertaken by many countries which, like Australia, fell for the quack medicine peddled by  the USA.


 Let’s ask all political candidates……today! 

Queensland first. This is the week to ask Queensland candidates the following questions, since their state election is being held in a few days. Those of us who are Queenslanders are earnestly asked to either send this copy of The Treehorn Express  to or ask each candidate to provide you with an answer to each. They can post them to me at the address below or email them. Don’t expect them to do so, of course; but Treehorn and his school colleagues will be pleased to learn that some adults care. The rest of us can ask our present incumbents now and all candidates for federal seats next year. PLEASE DO SO. YOU COULD REALLY HELP SCHOOL CHILDREN….even if we are a bit late for Queensland. Sorry to be so late, Q kids, but you do have some great schoolies who should be looking after you. They’ll make up for it.


1. Do you take an active interest in local school activities?   P&C member?

2. Do you talk to many teachers about NAPLAN?

3. Do you think that NAPLAN is useful for helping with normal classroom activities?

4. Can you explain what the terms NAPLAN and GERM mean and what influence they have on schooling?

5. Can you explain why GERM is so detested by the world’s most outstanding child-centred educators –e.g. Goodlad, Ravitch, Robinson, Smythe, Alexander, Brady, Ohanian, Sahlberg ?

6. Do you [or would you] tell your constituents in public that parents only have to write a note to their principal [public or private] to make sure their children do not do the May tests? 

7. What do you know of Finland’s education system and its future focus?

8. What do you know of the New York system run by lawyer Joel Klein…the one Australia copied?

9. What do you know of the Australian system and its future focus?

10. Did you see the Lateline interview of Pasi Sahlberg, Finland’s Director-General of Education on 28 Feb.? What did you think?

Comments from any candidate would be most welcome. All 159 Treehorn Express readers and their friends would enjoy reading them, I‘m sure. Treehorn himself believes that there will not be any.


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. Meditate on the plight of today’s generation of Aussie kids.

OtherTreehorns ? :   Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443


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