The Billion Dollar Blunder

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

 Treehorn is the hero of a masterful children’s book The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry that cleverly illustrates adult concerns for the welfare of school children. The little fellow kept shrinking and became so small that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody – nobody – his parents, his teacher, his principal took any real interest in his well-being.except for an occasional nod. The message is a clear and simple one for all parents of school children, for less-than-ethical teachers and principals who just don’t care enough.

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NAPLAN

The Billion Dollar Blunder

Yes. NAPLAN testing has cost the Australian taxpayer over a billion dollars just to test Years 3,5,7.9 once every year without showing a positive result of any kind. Having drowned our schools in data-driven trivia, the experience is now recorded in our history as an exceptional waste of human resources, effort and public money. Our contemporary cohort of school children have been seriously short-changed and they may never recover the spirit of learning that should have been theirs. For one-third of each of the past 5 school years, serious efforts at learning challenges have been placed on a back-burner and parents’ money has been ill-used. The price is vast…and not just in money terms. It’s time to tidy-up.

MONEY  Mr. Swan and Mr. Garrett. Wouldn’t this amount of money be better used by [a] implementing the recommendations of the GONSKI in full at any early date ? or [b] restoring the ‘kids’ bonus’ in a better shape than it is now? or [c] running high-impact Asian language classes during after-school hours.  {There’s not much room in the school day for any more add-ons, is there?. You’re pushing your luck with school management arrangements, fellas]  Do you like creating stress?

The $540million+ federal costs,  supplemented by millions from each state’s budget, are too much to pay for a zilch return. The waste has been shameful. If you bothered to gather all the financial data starting with the cost of ACARA and the costs of various federal and state agencies that supervise the activities, then adding the publishing, correction and technology costs, the expenses of maintaining a vigilante force, the administrative time of principals and their schools…. and presented a detailed balance sheet, you will be surprised yourselves. The public deserves to know how much. Despite the difficulty of extracting genuine totals  from the myriad accounting mechanisms in various localities, surely a reasonably accurate picture can be drawn. Can we Australia citizens please see a balance sheet?

Surely a few competent auditors can do a cost analysis within a short time frame.

If, at the same time, an investigative education-oriented journalist or sociologist  or curious student, was to follow the caprices of NAPLAN’s founder, Joel Klein A.O. now test-publisher and on-line marketeer, NAPLAN would finish tomorrow; although there is some considerable doubt that the Australia press would bother to highlight the outcomes of such a news item.

The Washington Post article of 24 Oct. How to save taxpayers billions of $$- really  commences “Companies that create and administer standardized tests are making a fortune in this era of test-based accountability, and business keeps growing.”

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 This image, found on Bruce Hammonds’ http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz  , represents a NAPLAN testucating machine, illustrating what happens to school children when they are subjected to the routines of test preparation and practice. Within its bowels, individual competencies and interests in various parts of the curriculum are crunched, re-modelled and replaced by exercises and practice routines that promote one-size-for-all outcomes. Holistic school systems based on pupilling, that recognises individuality in all school learnings and routine subjects and emphasise and celebrate personal achievement  become a thing of the past.  The illustration recognises that each child is different in so many ways when they arrive at a GERM-supported school. The NAPLAN machinery, installed by order of the government,  crushes their individual interests and  the teacher- sponsored subject-based challenges, giving way to the dull ‘one-size-fits-all’ routines of the measureable aspects of literacy and numeracy. Aiming its standards-arrow at the middle of the tree instead of the top, its products are usually mediocre, as the past five years of NAPLAN, Australia’s testucating-based version of GERM, have clearly demonstrated.

In the Washington Post article, Marion Brady asks us to suspend our thoughts about money for a moment, and think about the effects [of this machine called NAPLAN ]: Okay Marion. You want us to our base money thoughts and….“Think about the long-term consequences of taking control of kids’ minds away from homes and parents, away from neighbourhood schools and teachers and handing it over to people for whom quality education is far down the list of priorities, if it appears at all.”

Yes. Think about it – all you Australian and New Zealand testucators in schools and you non-school supporters of high-stakes testing. You are costing us adults a lot of money and our kids some critical years of  their development by denying them the  chance to achieve the highest of heights at their own rate…not yours.

Tell Her Immenseness that, if the only two goals of the Australian education system is to learn an Asian language and to be in ‘the top 5 by 25’, then she needs to drop NAPLAN quickly. LOTE is extremely demanding and….If  Her Immenseness  is so entranced by the peculiar PISA  international tests then the system had better produce some high-quality learners, not mediocre, cubed test-takers.  PISA is a piece of cake for learners.

NAPLAN must finish asap. The alternative is very, very scary.  When the government recklessly dumps further curriculum additives on schools without school-based consultation, things can go crazy. Serious choices have to be made.

Marion Brady concludes his article : “After our sick fascination with testing and ranking has run its course, after we finally decide to listen to real experts rather than politicians….after the best teachers have been driven out of the profession; after math and reading drills have replaced productive childhood play, art, music, and other forms of personality development, creativity and ingenuity; after all the non-standardized kids are out on the street with nothing to show for the work they’ve done, after a bedrock of real democracy has been destroyed rather than thoughtfully enhanced, attention may be paid.

But the damage, irreversible, will have been done.”

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Check and read the submissions to the Senate Committee of Inquiry into Teaching and Learning

http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=eet_ctte/teaching_learning/index.htm

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Says Esther Quintero : “A colleague of mine recently wrote that “NCLB  ‘…has helped to institutionalize the improper interpretation of testing data’ True. But I would go even further. NCLB has helped to institutionalize not just how to handle data, but also, and more importantly, what counts as data.”   Esther Quintero,22 Oct. 2012 [See Allan Alach’s ;’Readings’.]

Greg Thompson’s research becomes particularly relevant for Australia ! “Since when” Esther Q. asks “ are qualitative data unacceptable in social and behavioural science research and as a guide in policy-relevant decision-making?”  Dr Thompson’s work reveals a disturbing level of pessimism amongst NAPLAN workers. http://effectsofnaplan.edu.au/541/summary-of-the-survey-results/

Yes. There are greater truths in opinions and  observations than in gathering data by force.

Recommended Links

http://www.primaryreview.org.uk

http://ThinkinginTheDeepEnd.wordpress.com

www.literacyeducators.com.au

http://unitedoptout.com

http://saveourschools.com.au

http://www.dianeravitch.com

http://www.marionbrady.com

http://www.susanahanian.org

http://www.joebower.org

www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz

http://www.alfiekohn.org

http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

http://www.essentialschools.org

http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces.com

https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com/bridging-the-ditch/

http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Phil Cullen  AM,FACE,FACEL,FQIEL

[Gold Medal :ACEL]

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486

07 5524 6443

treehorn@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

I’m A Primary Teacher & other things

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

 Treehorn is the hero of a masterful children’s book The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry that cleverly illustrates adult concerns for the welfare of school children. The little fellow kept shrinking and became so small that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody – nobody – his parents, his teacher, his principal took any real interest in his well-being.except for an occasional nod. The message is a clear and simple one for all parents of school children, for less-than-ethical teachers and principals who just don’t care enough.

Naplan cannot predict anything nor reveal anything that teachers do not know already.

It only reveals that our national leadership is bankrupt. We have managers,not leaders.

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I’m a Primary Teacher

I am a primary teacher. As well as teaching English, which includes reading, writing, spelling, punctuation, phonics, grammar, handwriting, speaking and listening. I teach maths, social studies, science, art, health and technology.

I teach children to sing, dance and act so they can be part of a school musical. I teach children about healthy eating and the need for exercise.

I teach children to communicate and get along with others, to value others’ opinions, to treat others as they would like to be treated, to use manners, to respect the property of others and to be fair. I teach children to cross the road safely, to ride their bikes safely, to  walk safely on the cement. I teach them to wash their hands, to blow their noses, to wear hats in the sun and to sit on their chairs safely.

I teach children to want to go to school, to want to learn and to develop a love for learning. The children I teach know that I will do my best for each one of them, that I like them, that I value their opinions, that I want each of them to succeed and that I  proud of their achievements.

Who am I? Just an ordinary teacher. There are thousands of other teachers just like me out there. Thousands of them pick up the newspaper or turn to television daily to be told what a bad job they are doing.

I love my job. I love my children. I love the buzz I get when they make me feel proud and I love the noise of 52 of them beating down my classroom door at 8.15 am every day.

That’s what will get me through these turbulent times. I hope that all of those teachers just like me get through them too. Have a great day today. teachers.

[ Bundaberg Teacher, Catriona J.Mc  – Letter to Editor C.M.1 Oct., 2008]

http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=616

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Australia – A Testucator’s Disneyland

[Definition – TESTUCATOR:  One, usually in an education job of some sort with a passing knowledge of schooling, who approves of or supports forms of national blanket testing, aimed at blaming someone or other.]

Australian education’s Deen Brothers have swung their assessment hammers again !  Saturday’s [27 Oct. 2012] press revealed that “Aspiring teachers will be tested in literacy and numeracy at the beginning and end of their education degree under a national plan to drive up teacher quality.”  [Courier Mail]

School Education Minister, Peter Garrett told the Eidos Institute in Brisbane, yesterday, that preparation for this was under way. State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek welcomed the announcement.

Australia is about to hang out a sign: “We test everything.”  In small letters the sign will say. “It doesn’t do any good. We just like doing it. The salt mines if YOU object.”

Don’t stand still for too long, Mums and Dads, Grandpa and Grandma. You’re next.

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Best Wishes to Kevin Pope

Principal hero and child-advocate, Kevin Pope of Meadow Heights is expecting a visit from either a ‘Fed” or a ‘Ted’ officer sometime soon. [Ted Baillieu is Victoria’s premier]. It is to be hoped the officers are able to learn something from Kevin. In an earlier time, an officer reckoned that Ted was being ‘political’, because he had candidly described “NAPLAN’ and its effects in a professional manner.

There is a word for ‘back-to-frontness’, but it escapes me.

An issue such as this is not so much about Kevin or Ted or Fed. It’s about his stand-out REGARD and CARE and LOVE for kids at school. In another GERM-free time, Kevin would not stand out as a hero.

In case you missed it, for more information, see See Article 12 in “Say NO to NAPLAN” at  www.literacyeducators.com.au/naplan

You might like to send a short ‘best wishes’ to him. He deserves a little support, a pat on the back and a  sincere ‘fairy clap’.  {See Kevin. I remember.}

pope.kevin.kw@edumail.vic.gov.au

[Coming soon : A story from Paul Thomson, the independent-school principal of a school where parents refuse to do the damaging/degrading NAPLAN tests]

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It’s October

It wasn’t so long ago that school vacations consisted of a six week period in mid-summer, a week in May and a two-week period during the winter months. In Queensland, the two-week period was arranged to coincide with the Brisbane Show aka Exhibition. There was a long unbroken period between mid-August and mid-December, with the pre-Christmas period devoted to examinations of many kinds. It was a really tough slog. Departmental statistics showed that there were more parental complaints about teacher behaviour during the month of October than the whole of the rest of the year. It was understandable. One did not need to have a Ph.D. with a background in psychology to know the reasons why.

AND……It was extra-extremely tough for those teachers serving in remote areas [of WA & Q’ld especially], a long way from their boy-friends, girl-friends, family members, friends and the kinds of sporting interests and cultural pursuits that their home-town offered. Most Queensland teachers came from Brisbane and other cities tucked away in the south east corner. Teachers in remote localities sacrificed a lot to provide schooling for those children whose folk had chosen to live where they lived. It is over 1800 kms from Brisbane to Mt. Isa and 1700 kms to Cairns [both stepping stones to far-away places]; so week-ends visits to home are out of the question. It was also a long tough period for parents as well who listened to ‘school stories’ for the tense period up to October, but, with thoughts similar to the teachers, relaxed about November in anticipation of a long break.
I was Regional Director and Inspector for the north-west schools district, an area that was marginally bigger than Texas….just a little bit, but larger. I was ably assisted by a senior clerk and two typists in the office at Longreach. The district stretched the full length of the Northern Territory border from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the South Australian border, east to places like Hughenden, Barcaldine and Tambo. I was obliged, at the time, to inspect every teacher in the area and provide them with a numerical assessment of their abilities [Believe it]. I wrote a report on every state school and convent in the area every year; later adding ‘mission’ schools at Mornington Island and Doomadgee. I used to send out an occasional professional newsletter for every teacher written by their regional colleagues, willing to describe some interesting activity that I might have noticed during my visits; and included many professional articles as well, sourced from the giants of the era. It was the period of [mistakenly called ] open area schooling. It was an exciting time for me, professionally, and I learned a lot from the young enthusiastic teachers and principals of the outback. We had a saying,”Only the best go west.”I didn’t want to have to listen to too many parental complaints at any official inquiry that were usually acrimonious and from which no ‘winner’ emerged. Besides,it was a long way to some places where tensions may have got beyond breaking point. I wondered how I might alert all teachers in the region to be careful in handling the tensions and stress of this part of the school year. The October statistics were not generally known, so I sent out a one page, foolscap-size newsletter with “IT’S OCTOBER” in the largest print that would fit on the page. Nothing else – apart from my signature. Imagine the reaction in schools and staffrooms.What’s he talking about?Did it ‘work’? Who knows? Who cares? I know that I had no inquiries to endure.
naplancontrolsareevilnaplancpntrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilSenate InquiryIf you take a look at the submissions to the enquiry received [before mine], then you will appreciate the extent of the issues with which the  members of the committee will have to cope over the next few months. You wont envy them their task. The variety of issues raised is enormous. Check out  http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=eet_ctte/teaching_learning/index.htmand take a look from time to time.

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Thinking in the Deep End

Patricia Buoncristiani, an Aussie with American citizenship shares a blog with her American husband http://ThinkingInTheDeepEnd.wordpress.com  now listed in the links below. Both spend a  portion of each year in both countries.  Pat, in the latest one, expresses concern about “…the decline in the arts since the advent of GERM. It worries me greatly.”  She continues in her letter to Treehorn: “ The intriguing thing is that things are changing in Australia to more closely resemble what has destroyed education in the USA . Bizarre! “

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Please note that www.primaryreview.org.uk  has also been added to the links below. It is one that points the way to issues that primary teachers will want to consider many times during the course of a school year. Thanks to Professor Alexander for indicating that “The ‘primary’ in the title might give encouragement to those in that sector.” Every primary teacher in every GERM country needs to be familiar with this review. Every testucator in every GERM country who can read-for-content, as unlikely as that is, needs to read about what is necessary [See above as well]

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When Is A Charter School Not a Charter School?

The Queensland Minister for Education etc. John-Paul Langbroek, has assured Bruce Jones, former Primary School Principal, that Q’ld has ‘…no intention of introducing charter schools based on the U.S.A, or N.Z. models….Over the next four year 120 Independent Public Schools [IPS] will be rolled out across the state [Queensland] with 26 IPS to commence in 2013.”

One can now expect U.S.A. and N.Z. to change their charter school names to Independent Public Schools….if they like to use oxymorons in public. It’s a game called ‘Having fun with gimmicks’.”

Principals of IPS in Q’ld will be able to ban the use of all forms of external blanket testing, I suppose.

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Shop Big W

Ken and Suesie Woolford, Toowoomba, of Home-schooling fame, found a splendid book at Big W for $22: The One World Schoolhouse – Education Reimagined by Salman Khan. They enjoyed it because, says Ken: [1] You can pick it up at Big W; [2] it is NOT a book above gloom, boom and guilt; [3] It is obviously aimed at non-specialist readers; [4] It is positive and exciting to read, referring to the same research and ideas that Treehorn highlights. Keep alert next shopping trip, kids, and slip a copy in the trolley.

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“Having a top-five PISA goal as the centre of the nation’s educational ambition is clearly at odds with the Gonski panel’s view that ‘An excessive focus on what is testable, measureable and publicly reportable carries the risk of imbalance in the school curriculum.” [David Loader and Simon Whatmore in The Age :’Why It’s Time for a Class Revolt. ]

G.O.N.S.K.I : Guide Our Nation’s School Kids Intelligently

N.A.P.L.A.N. :  Never Allow Pupils Learn Anything Necessary

Recommended Links

http://www.primaryreview.org.uk

http://ThinkinginTheDeepEnd.wordpress.com

www.literacyeducators.com.au

http://unitedoptout.com

http://saveourschools.com.au

http://www.dianeravitch.com

http://www.marionbrady.com

http://www.susanahanian.org

http://www.joebower.org

www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz

http://www.alfiekohn.org

http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

http://www.essentialschools.org

http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces.com

https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com/bridging-the-ditch/

http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Phil Cullen  AM,FACE,FACEL,FQIEL

[Gold Medal :ACEL]

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486

07 5524 6443

Educational Readings October 26th

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

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Educational Readings
By Allan Alach
 

Yesterday’s Special Edition, highlighting the Cambridge Primary Review, has been well received around the world, helping to connect the international campaign against GERM. This includes this comment from Robin Alexander in an email to Phil Cullen:

‘That’s terrific. Many thanks,

 Best wishes from Chile (where there’s huge interest in the Cambridge Primary Review).

 Robin’

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

Montessori: The Missing Voice in the Education Reform Debate

These two links need no introduction.

http://huff.to/Rc32h9

http://buildingthepinktower.org/vision#

The Data-Driven Education Movement

A comprehensive debunking of this GERM that is infecting education all over:

‘Being data-driven is only useful if you have a strong theory by which to navigate; anything else can leave you heading blindly toward a cliff.’

http://shankerblog.org/?p=7015

How to save taxpayers billions of $$ — really

Marion Brady arguing for the use of sampling as the best means of determining effectiveness of pupil learning.

This section, while US focussed, is very applicable elsewhere. Readers, wherever they are, will be very familiar with this.

What’s the education-test manufacturer complex’s long-term strategy, as coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council?

           (1) Invent an education emergency and make skillful use of the mainstream media to push it.

          (2) Attack the legitimacy of public education by destroying trust in its most obvious representatives — teachers.

          (3) To make manipulation easy, centralize decision-making for standards and accountability at the highest possible level.

          (4) Work behind the scenes with politicians from both political parties, wealthy foundations, and Wall Street types to push vouchers, charters, and funding for anything public that can be profitably privatized.

          (5) Call congressional hearings on the matter and invite to testify only those “educators” and think-tank “experts” who — if they taught long enough to understand what they were doing — have long since forgotten it.

          (6) Dazzle the continuous stream of new, young, inexperienced teachers with slick, colorful, ready-made instructional materials heavy with current jargon about it being “data driven,” “child-centered,” “research-based,” “technology enabled,” “blended,” “aligned with the new Common Core Standards. ”

http://wapo.st/THas97

Testing in kindergarten: whatever happened to story time? 

‘Chicago kindergarteners could spend a third of their school year taking standardized tests’

A warning for the rest of the infected world from the USA, remembering that their kindergarten is for five year olds.

http://bit.ly/TbsIqk

Five-year-olds put to the test as kindergarten exams gain steam

Another article on the same topic.

http://reut.rs/SjycTN

Survey Finds that NAPLAN Has a Detrimental Effect on Education

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Australia now finding out what USA and England have already learnt – GERM damages education.

http://bit.ly/RLZ39h

Audit Blasts Lack of Oversight of Charter Spending

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, Part 2. As the New Zealand government moves to pass legislation to establish charter schools, there is increasing concern about the lack of oversight. Maybe the government, as well as blindly following the GERM prescription, should also read articles such as this one from Diane Ravitch.

http://bit.ly/QJ0bdY

Educational Readings: Special Edition

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

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Educational Readings
 
Special Edition
By Allan Alach
 
As an example of the increasingly wide connections being developed in in the anti-GERM campaign, Phil Cullen recently received an email from Professor Robin Alexander, Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, Professor of Education Emeritus, University of Warwick, and Director of the Cambridge Primary Review, which has been called;
 
The most comprehensive enquiry into English primary education for 40 years.’
 
The value of this review, and associated documents, in supporting the battle for holistic education, worldwide, should not be underestimated. Accordingly this Special Edition provides links to the Review itself, and also to a number of supporting websites.  
 
New Zealand readers will be interested to note that the former Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, in correspondence with a Board of Trustees chair in Auckland, made the claim that national standards were consistent with the findings of this review. We can conclude from this that she hadn’t bothered to read it. 
 
This set of documents is highly recommended.
 
Cambridge Primary Review home page:
 
Cambridge Primary Review Publications Overview:
 
Cambridge Primary Review Final Report:
 
Lectures presented by Robin Alexander in Melbourne 2010
 
REFORM, RETRENCH OR RECYCLE? A CURRICULUM CAUTIONARY TALE
 
THE PERILS OF POLICY Success, amnesia and collateral damage in systemic educational reform

Ethical Depravity

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

 Treehorn is the hero of a masterful children’s book The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry that cleverly illustrates adult concerns for the welfare of school children. The little fellow kept shrinking and became so small that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody – nobody – his parents, his teacher, his principal took any real interest in his well-being.except for an occasional nod. The message is a clear and simple one for all parents of school children, for less-than-ethical teachers and principals who just don’t care enough.

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“Testing should be seen as an essential dimension in the process of teaching, not a parasitic growth upon it.”

 [The Bullock Report. 1975 – ironically the report of a Committee of Inquiry, appointed by Margaret Thatcher, concerned about ‘declining standards’ .]

Ethical  Depravity

I’m so proud of what I do.  I’m so pleased that Althea Hurley introduced me to Treehorn. I’m pleased  to have named The Treehorn Express after a school child who represents every school child in the world now suffering from debilitating school experiences and macabre class-room practices, because few adults care; and such children are forced to attend schools where classes have to tolerate the indignity of arrogant  political corruption of professional practices. I hope to see the dignity of Treehorn and his friends restored, one day soon.

I am so proud to share the newsletter with Allan Alach who maintains this blog which is being read by hundreds of folk in a number of countries. The biggest daily ‘hit’ of 240 readers was made on https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/australia-germ-capital/

There has been no challenge to the claim of Australia leading the world in GERM practices.  This means:  We lead the world in the disgraceful treatment of school children.

I am so proud that I once quoted a teacher, in an official state department document [June 1983]: “If I have to test my kids to see how well they are doing, I ought to quit my job.” then went on to say,” It’s the children’s business to evaluate their progress and to gain confidence from their accomplishments. It’s the teacher’s business to teach them how to evaluate purposefully…”

I am so appalled by the Stalinisation of democratic processes that treats our children as robotic measurement tools in a most contemptuous manner, for political purposes. Since all of Australia’s major parties support the imposition of state-controlled theories of learning based on fear and shame and competition, they have seriously restricted my franchise. How can I vote for any candidate who supports such policies?

How can I trust a political party that once espoused democratic principles but now demeans such principles, fully conscious that they are being manipulated by  under-hand lobbying of media conglomerates? I mean Liberal and Labor and National parties. The Brer Fox parties just don’t bother much about kids. If they had more gumption, I suspect that they might. They  haven’t found the breath to announce their views on blanket testing yet.

I am surprised and disappointed to learn that state education department officials, catholic education and independent school  authorities do as they are told so willingly. When they feel that they have to use Gestapo-type tactics on child-caring professional, curriculum-oriented principals [e.g. Thomson and Pope] they demean their office. They should celebrate the presence of such people in their vicinity.  When they ‘come the raw prawn’ with ‘heavy’ treatment of their hierarchical subordinates at the same time as they support and encourage wide-scale cheating practices, they lower the dignity of the teaching profession, including their own office,  even further.

[e.g. NAPLAN protocols indicate a lack of tolerance for ‘cheating’ which it defines as ‘gaining an advantage over another’. Then, ignoring its own ‘code of conduct’ aka ‘code of control’, it hypocritically encourages schools to practice and even makes practice tests available.  In its cheating report, it does not mention the number of hours each class spends on practice routines, at the expense of other curriculum imperatives. It probably doesn’t bother to check.

Some regions publish NAPLAN results to massage their competitive boasting, such as listing the “TOP TEN” in regional newsletters. One such region includes in the top 10, the name of a school that follows the sport of giving the current Year 9 NAPLAN test to its Year 8s and then suggesting to parents of the low achievers that their children should not do the test in Year 9. In this case, the practice is widely known in the region because the cluster of primary schools in the vicinity are blamed for the low achievements of the Year 8s.  It’s a National Partnership School  and the principal’s c.v. notes his abilities as the head of a ‘high performance school’. It’s an ironic twist to the Literacy Educators’ “Say NO to NAPLAN” campaign, but it is widely known that more and more schools around Australia are offering such advice to the parents of low achievers. That’s NAPLAN in action.That’s NAPLAN know-how.]

I am professionally sickened by the ethical depravity of Australia’s principals associations and teachers unions, who used to believe in children and used to encourage teaching/learning experiences according to the most effective classroom  techniques known. I used to believe in them. I held primary principals in the very highest regard – the greatest of all professions – and was always proud to say that. They now openly subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ publishers’ beliefs and to the ‘state-controlled-theory’ of fear-promotes-learning and pupil-stress-focused-attention, best inflicted through didactic techniques. I’m ashamed. Even worse, they subscribe to the belief [despite 2012 NAPLAN results] that blanket testing and rigid supervision produces positive learning outcomes and higher test scores. I am very, very sad and disillusioned.

School teacher groups should have told Ms. Gillard at the outset that their support for such pupil-demeaning, injurious, exotic and unusable Big Apple practices infringed our professional ethics – which they plainly do; and which are presently having an obvious and proven deleterious effect on children’s learning. Perhaps it is too late for the present occupants. They have been corralled and branded, unfortunate enough to have to ply their craft during this crazy moment in history.  For now they MUST do as they are told. Over the past five years, compliance and moulding to the will of politicians and sciolists have invaded their ethical space and GERMed it. Ethically principled principals are in short supply. Those who do what sterling leaders do, are stand-outs.

[Should  Gillard-Garrett GERM operators recommend Joel Klein for an Order of Australia?] 

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“Educational standards should be redefined as the quality and outcomes of learning in the entire curriculum to which children are entitled by law.”

Prof. Robin Alexander , Chairman: Cambridge Primary Review   http://www.primaryreview.org.uk/downloads/Alexander_Miegunyah_lecture_FINAL.pdf

Recommended Links

Phil Cullen  AM,FACE,FACEL,FQIEL
[Gold Medal :ACEL]
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443

Latest News

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

 Treehorn is the hero of a masterful children’s book The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry that cleverly illustrates adult concerns for the welfare of school children. The little fellow kept shrinking and became so small that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody – nobody – his parents, his teacher, his principal took any real interest in his well-being.except for an occasional nod. The message is a clear and simple one for all parents of school children, for teachers and principals who just don’t care enough.

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Naplan, like a coal-seam-gas miner, invades each Aussie child’s intellectual property without permission,  fracks their cerebral underpinnings without remorse and scars their learning landscape forever without a care.

Latest  News

http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committee?url=eet_ctt/teaching_learning/info.htm

Senate Inquiry Submissions close on 26 October – next Friday. It’s the second time that I have made one to a senate inquiry, the first being into ‘the administration and reporting of NAPLAN testing.  Didn’t have any impact. So much has happened since then….things got worse…a lot worse… almost out of hand;  and Australia now holds the title of the GERMiest country on earth. In her blog headed “Australia Claims the GERM Title”. Diane Ravitch says, “Is Australian the GERM capital of the world?  I was sure that the U.S. was first in the world when it came to testing and accountability, choice, competition and privatization.” she continues, “ We now discover we are number 2.”  Gotcha Diane.

You were the first at these things, Diane…but…. we are not called your 51st state for nothing. We have to do what your corporations want us to do….and…don’t forget…Rupert used to be one of ours!  Yes.  We copied that fear-full, shame-full, competitive system from your Joel Klein [A.O. or A.M. ?] but it’s flopped, gone pear-shaped. We are looking forward to throwing in the towel, as soon as possible; and teaching our school children instead. Some other unfortunate country can have the title. We aren’t proud of it. Fair dinkum Aussies look forward to starting again…which is a probable outcome of this inquiry. Listen to what one school principal [click  ‘Kevin Pope radio interview’ ] describes how this system works down under. He is one who has risen above the politically-inspired intimidation tricks and Orwellian forms of bureaucratic control on behalf of his school. You can sense the love and respect that he has for his pupils, can’t you?  Australia needs to re-introduce this kind of pupil care and respect into its schools, this kind of ethical school leadership. You will have noticed that there are now so many schools that once boasted of their learning achievements on many broad curriculum fronts and how they carried out their duty of care; who now describe their successes in terms of NAPLAN results. They’ve gone rogue and allowed fear-based testing and high-stakes competitiveness into their management ethos. Sick.

Please. true-blue Aussie educators and friends of schools, help our school children and make a submission on any or all of the  terms of reference and send to eewr.sen@aph.gov.au  this week. Tell the senators that NAPLAN has to go—entirely and forthwith. If you cannot find the time, and think that my submission, Submission – Senate Committee  is in line with your own opinions, why not just send an email to endorse mine, and ask the secretariat to attach it, with your comments if you wish, to my submission. If you think  that my ‘selected readings’ are insufficient, for instance,  and that members need to read a particular item of importance please send the article or source to the same address. The busy people on the committee will need as much well-sourced material as they can get. Their Christmas will be ruined, but Christmas is about kids too.

For instance, Greg Thompson’s research into the “Effects of NAPLAN” {Murdoch University, Oct. 2012 as perceived by teachers is ground-breaking. See attachment: Greg Thompson – NAPLAN research   I hope Mr. Garrett reads it. He once wrote ,”…the opinions expressed in The Treehorn Express newsletter are largely opinion or anecdotal and are not supported by evidence.”  Here’s some more opinions, Peter, you poor misguided chap, from the chalk-face. These opinions of Australian teachers, obtained by empirically based research – a much more reliable source of opinion than those that you express when you boast that NAPLAN ensures “improved learning outcomes” and “promotes quality education in Australia”. You know full well that you base such fiction on silly, unreliable and invalid NAPLAN scoring devices….fair go.

This study by Greg Thompson, consistent with international research, reveals that “high-stakes testing has a negative impact on Australian schooling.”

  1. NAPLAN “creates incentives for teachers to narrow the curriculum, adopt teachers-centred pedagogies, and teach to the test.”  “…these strategies are detrimental to literacy and numeracy learning.” and create “…classroom environments that are less, rather than more inclusive.”
  2. “The majority of teachers surveyed do not see NAPLAN as improving literacy and numeracy in their classrooms and schools.”
  3. “Research suggests that stress makes learning more difficult, not more likely. Trying to improve education outcomes through NAPLAN at the same time as it increases the stress of those involved would appear to be a self-defeating strategy.”
  4. “Only a minority of teachers perceive NAPLAN has had some positive outcomes, and these positives are much less prevalent in the data than the perceptions of negative impacts.”

Peter. Please learn to say “Oops. I’m sorry.”…then, after a yarn to the political founders of the Klein invented, GERM infested NAPLAN testing routines,  be Aussie enough to say, “NAPLAN  must cease forthwith!”  It’s an accident of history and has to be put behind us.

Might I suggest that you and your flunks [e.g. letter-writers] download the attachment : Greg Thompson research  and study each table and judge the intensity of  responses to each question carefully.  Ask the senators what they think. Then, play fair with our kids; and ask the busy senators to recommend the cessation of NAPLAN testing, completely….no half-measures.

It’s election year next year, kiddies. Let’s hope that it becomes our Australian year of the child….and anyone who supports NAPLAN [i.e. those who obviously doesn’t care much about children] loses his or her seat.

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At the conclusion of my submission, I made three recommendations. What do you think?

1…..that this senate inquiry sponsor a legal inquiry into the standing of a Code of Conduct within a state department of education, especially in its relationship to the exercise of professional ethics by its employees; and that the outcomes be made public. 

2…..that all education authorities be informed that parents’ rights in regard to their children’s participation in NAPLAN testing be respected; that their right of refusal is clearly made on enrolment forms and on official announcements.

3…..that state public schools be allowed to hire teachers to teach those whose normal curriculum  experiences are not available because of NAPLAN testing preparation and operation.

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“Legislators and bureaucrats scheme to achieve greater control over what is taught and to whom. Their motives are partly egotistical, and some intentions are honourable. However, their actions are not judged by their intentions but by their consequences, which are uniformly bad.”   [Gene Glass]

Recommended Links

Phil Cullen  AM,FACE,FACEL,FQIEL
[Gold Medal :ACEL]
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443

Educational Readings October 19th

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]
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Educational Readings

By Allan Alach

A number of events over the week has demonstrated the determination of the deformers to  ensure that their aims are met, even if this means telling untruths about their backgrounds, as exemplified by GERM Master in chief, Joel Klein, Murdoch’s hatchet man in New York. Klein is a self described educational expert who knows how to raise achievement (seems being a lawyer provides the idea background for this – damn, why did I spend all those years studying education?). However his stories about his childhood, education, favourite teacher, etc, are demonstrably hogwash. Not that this seems to matter to his Aussie disciples, who are hell bent on out GERMing the rest of the world.

In the spirit of trans Tasman competition, and the desire to outdo the Aussies, New Zealand hasn’t been immune this week, as the government have introduced legislation into parliament that will allow the establishment of ‘partnership’ (aka charter) schools, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary and ignoring the advice of Pasi Sahlberg during his recent visit. Seems we have the three unwise monkeys – hands over ears, hands over eyes, and speaking a lot of evil. There’s much worse to come, so Australian GERMers shouldn’t rest on their laurels. If our government has its way, battle for the title of World GERM champions will commence.

A frightening aspect of this legislation is that even though ‘partnership’ schools will be government funded, they will not be subject to official information act requests, thus preventing the media, in particular, from accessing ‘achievement data,’ as they are able to do with all the other state schools. Media league tables will, as a consequence, not include partnership schools data.   Partnership schools will also be free from most other statutory requirements imposed on state schools.  Why? Of course these schools are being promoted as the saving of education in New Zealand, that will instantly solve the problem of underachievement, notwithstanding all the evidence that indicates addressing poverty would be much more beneficial.

However, to save Australia from the threat of losing their title as World Germ champions there is a very welcome unity amongst all the opposition political parties that GERMs do not have a place in New Zealand in any shape or form.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

A convenient untruth

Steve Wheeler debunking the learning styles myth.

‘One of the biggest myths known to teacherdom is learning styles. Time and time again, the belief that students can be placed into specific categories such as activist or theorist, or that they are predominantly inclined toward one modal category of learning (e.g. visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) is inserted into professional conversations as if the theories are fact.’

http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.co.at/2011/11/convenient-untruth.html

Race-based student goals prompt controversy in South Florida

Hmmmm…. I can see a version of this coming in New Zealand, where achievement goals are set for underachieving Maori and Pacific Island children – anything to avoid the ‘elephant’ of poverty that the present government doesn’t want to acknowledge.

http://huff.to/RjnZ6J

Homework: Training For Blind Obedience

Why give copious amounts of homework? Because this is the way it’s always been done? Seems the French may be going against the flow. Très bon!

http://bit.ly/R4ojHW

America’s Worst Invasive Species: The Wonk

Not just in the USA. This species is thriving in New Zealand and I suspect has joined cane toads in Australia.

http://bit.ly/R57RHo

Why the ‘market theory’ of education reform doesn’t work

“Modern education reform is being driven by people who believe that competition, privatization and other elements of a market economy will improve public schools. In this post, Mark Tucker, president of the non-profit National Center on Education and the Economy and an internationally known expert on reform, explains why this approach is actually harming rather than helping schools.”

http://wapo.st/RpA0YO

Best Practices Make Purrfect

A very timely expose on that horrible cliche´ ‘best practice.”

http://edushyster.com/?p=910#more-910

Save Unsuccessful Charter Schools (SUCS), Now!

“Increasingly over the past decade, children and their parents all across the U.S. are choosing to enroll in or are being chosen to attend charter schools that are average or failing. Since these children are our future, we must organize now and help reform the struggling charter school movement; thus, I am forming Save Unsuccessful Charter Schools (SUCS).”

http://bit.ly/SXsoLK

Fraudulent Educational Reform in America

Given the pipeline from USA to ‘down under’ this is worth reading so you can play “spot the similarities’.

“What goes on in America’s schools is essentially identical to what goes on in the Madrassas of the Muslim world. In both, orthodox beliefs are taught as truth and critical examination is discouraged. Two worlds clash in loggerheads.”

http://bit.ly/U6G8tO

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Recommended Links

Phil Cullen  AM,FACE,FACEL,FQIEL
[Gold Medal :ACEL]
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443