Poignant Passages

The Treehorn Express

Prepared and presented by Phil Cullen, proud anti-NAPLAN geriactivist thinking of kids.

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’



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“NAPLAN costs millions. It’s not worth a dollar on ebay”

Poignant Passages

Knowing the depth and width of reading that school teachers undertake in their spare time, one is conscious that they will read these extracts with great relish. They are so appropriate for present circumstances.  Derek Hedgcock, former Q’ld Primary School Principal and therefore keen reader, with tongue in cheek, noted that a recent NAPLAN study [Teese] linked scores to the Fed’s socio-economic index. There was a direct correlation. “What a surprise!” says Derek. He then indicated that “…the accountability bogeyman could be turned from the perceived underperformance of schools, teachers and pupils…into a spotlight on politicians. Let’s just pretend that we accept the politicians’ proposition that NAPLAN has integrity…sorta go along with the charade.…and then demand that the ‘shortcomings’ be addressed by way of additional support…a sorta NAPLAN social justice/equity funding and resourcing ‘fair go’.  Gillard was rather loud in the proclamation of fairness when debating the Medicare policy change a few months back. Let’s use NAPLAN to see how fairdinkum she is about a ‘fair go’. Then, once it is established that political integrity is lacking, the torch can be turned on to the political rump.” and Derek later added . “With all their self-serving power at-all-costs agenda prevailing over almost all they do at such a cost to the integrity of our education systems etc, it’s the least that can be done…to turn up the heat on them; and away from the kids and their hard-working teachers.”


Carol Corbett Burns [In The Washington Post’s  Valerie Strauss “Answer Sheet”] asks the question on behalf of a 10-year-old,

“I want to know why after the vacation I have to take test after test after test.” The little girl says “I know what math I’m good at. My teacher knows the words I can’t spell. My mom knows I’m a fast reader. ..So, what’s the point?”

Her teacher punted and answered the question with a question: “Why do you think the tests are important?”

“No idea,” she said, “but my teacher says that we need to do good on them. She’s nervous about us taking the tests. Now here’s what I think. I’m supposed to learn in school, right? But either you are test-taking or you are learning – can’t be doing both at the same time.”

This telling article goes on to compare times spent on children’s tests’ with some adult tests:  Law Admission 3 hours; Police 1 hr.30 mins.; Nurse 6 hours; Stockbrokers 6 hours…and that’s to get a licence!

Our kids? Year 3: 2 hours 50 minutes. Year 9: 3 hours 50 minutes!!!…and that’s to provide pain and punishment if the results aren’t satisfactory.

The article then asks,”Who is it, then, that benefits from this testing obsession?” It answers: The Pearson Corp., after spending over $1m on lobbying and now under investigation for possible lobbying violations has been awarded a $33million contract in NY  for test-related tools, software and textbooks. Then, Murdoch says that there is a $500billion – repeat $500billion – market in the U.S. alone, waiting to be transformed. Difficult to consider the size of this in a schooling context, isn’t it? Joel Klein, the founder of Australia’s present schooling system based on high-stakes, fear-based testing, will be earning the $4.5 million working for Rupert M. this year to make sure you will be transformed. NAPLAN is obviously a softener for the gullible. So… silent pro-NAPLANers, pro-Kleinist, pro-Murdoch adherents presently inhabiting the darker corners of school-rooms…just wait and say nothing [as usual]. But, please read…



Professor Jack Hassard of Georgia writes of “The Power, Privilege, and Injustice of Authoritarian Standards & High-Stakes Testing Sham.”  :

“It conjures up for me the use of power and privilege to create injustice for not only schools and teachers, but for students and their parents. Using invalid test scores, the government has cast a net around high poverty schools. The data is not only invalid, but it is not reliable…This leads to a corrupt system in which we predicate schools’ and teachers’ performance on false data, and use this data to embarrass and destroy careers of highly educated teachers and bring havoc to parents. Why are they doing this?”

“In the near future, schools will possess the same standards and the same set of high-stakes tests.”


Professor Jack Hassard of Georgia then calls this article “ The Social-Emotional Consequences of the Authoritarian Standards & High-Stakes Testing Sham”. It follows his article above. He speaks of an article called ‘Anxious teachers, sobbing children.’, in which the author asks,”What’s the low morale and crying about in education these days? Mandatory dehumanization and emotion policy-making – that’s what. Policy makers, acting on emotion and little to no data, have dehumanized schooling by implementing authoritarian standards in a one-size-fits-all system of education.”

According to research by Ginicola & Saccoccio, NCLB [as with  NAPLAN and NZ Standards as part of the GERM alliance]…”

“      *Fails to recognize the importance of social and emotional functioning in children;

*Contributes to increased stress for children;

*Causes stress in teachers that ultimately produces negative effects on children;

*Impairs the teacher-student relationship;

*Damages school climate;

*Counter productively causes specific children to be left behind;

*Takes time, energy, and money away from programs that promote positive mental health development in children.”

Hassard also quotes from “The Paradoxes of High Stakes Testing” by Madaus, Russell & Higgins which introduces the term peiragenics which is semantically allied to the medical term iatrogenic [a negative unanticipated effect on the patient of a well-intended treatment by a physician]. “PEIRAGENICS refers to the negative, unanticipated effects on student, teachers and schools of well-intended policies.” 

However, an experienced Australian professional classroom teacher would argue that, in the case of NAPLAN,  disengagement with productive learning was intended to satisfy the pedestrian views held by leading politicians, business executives and their sciolist administrators when it was introduced. The introduction of NAPLAN had no relationship to improvements in learning; rather to political chest thumping.

Our Prime Minister, then Minister, unintended agent perhaps of the Klein-Murdoch coupling, would have been told of the immoral consequences at the time. If she wasn’t, there are some masqueraders in Australian education systems, to whom she may or may not have referred,  who should not be where they are. They are a threat to children’s social and emotional functioning. Refer…



Roger Cross, an Australian science education colleague of Jack Hassard, describes the heaviest element known to man in “Australia Discovers New Element: Governmentium. ” Governmentium [Gv] has “one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons giving it an atomic mass of 312. The 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lefton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons or protons, it is inert. However, it can be detected because it impedes every reaction with which it comes in contact….Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2-6 years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each organisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration.

This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons. All of the money is consumed in the exchange, and no other by-products are produced.”



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Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443




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