WAPPA speaks out.

 Please note : Queensland principals are not able to receive emails above a pre-determined size. They cannot receive, through the official network, largish items of professional relevance e.g. Allan Alachs “Professional Readings”. If  any Queensland principal on an official email address wishes to access The Treehorn Express, they will need to do so on https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com  Please tell your principal friend about this if you are in touch.

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn is the hero of an easy-to-read, sad children’s book, “The Shrinking of Treehorn” by Florence Heidi Parry. She cleverly exposes adults’ couldn’t-care-less attitude towards the needs of children, even when the circumstances of mal-treatment of children are patently obvious. Treehorn found that parents, teachers and principals only pretend to care. His principal ignored his problem but was still able to say, “:You were right to come to me. That’s what I’m here for. To guide. Not to punish, but to guide. To guide all members of my team. To solve their problems.” And Treehorn kept shrinking.
When he started to turn green, his mother told him to comb his hair before the Smedleys arrived for bridge.

Stephen Breen : Features of GERM

I have been concerned about the high compliancy level of Australian primary principals since the 2008 introduced political control of the school learnings through NAPLAN, a product of GERM; and their too-casual disregard for professional ethics as applied to their care and concern for the rights of children at school. Indeed, as a former primary school principal, I have been bitterly disappointed. They destroyed a large part of my vision for the future of schooling in Australia, There seemed to be a total desertion of children’s rights to enjoy learning in a scrambled anxiety to trade ethics for cash.

Back in 2008, I was more than a little confident…I was absolutely sure…. when the storm clouds were gathering….that they would tell the more powerful [in schooling terms] politicians of the day – Nelson, Rudd, Gillard – that a primary principal’s professional knowledge and ethics would not allow high-stakes, fear-driven, low-level, one-size, immoral testing anywhere near their schools. I knew Aussie principals pretty well. I thought.

I was more that a little disappointed as a primary school teacher and extremely angry as a grandparent when principals’ associations were so easily corralled and press-ganged into blind acceptance of the Klein system of schooling [See Treehorn tomorrow] and of zombie functionalism [D.Well] that silently approves of various forms of gimmickry like charter schools, shifting grades around, fiddling with school time, without a murmur. I still have trouble comprehending why and how organisations, allegedly representing aspects of the schooling professions, were so easily and so comprehensively manipulated by political guile; and it is no consolation to know that principals in USA, England and New Zealand also accepted GERM’s diabolical changes, so timidly.

My hope and dreams are on the rise again, however.

I’ve started to sing that “Care for Kids’ song again.

Paul Drummond of the New Zealand Primary Principals’ Federation spoke out at the APPA-NZPF conference last month. Now, Stephen Breen of the West Australian Primary Principals Association has provided the general public with a run-down on the features of GERM. Listen to Stephen as he outlines them under the following headings….


1. Standardisation

2. A focus on core subjects

3. The search for low risk ways to attain learning goals

4. The rise of corporate management models

5. Implementation of test based accountability policies

Now let’s sing…… Click here …A celebration….things are on the up-and-up. I can see a smile starting to appear on Treehorn’s face, can’t you?


With No Child Left Behind ushered in at the beginning of the George W, Bush presidency, America entered into the cartographic reality and morbid morass of high stakes testing, the location on the chess board where the Wall Street financiers and seedy politicians wanted to put public education after years of neglect and underfunding. Why?  For not only is the attack on public education one aimed at destroying teacher unions and the public confidence in general, but is also an attack on what is taught in classes the actual methods  of instruction, what students are to be thinking about and the educational theories behind the ‘neo-functionality’ that reduces students to mere depositories of pre-masticated thinking. Testing is an authoritarian tool that regiments both students and teachers while at the same time serving as a rubric for investors who see the scores much like credit ratings.
[Danny Well: “Zombie Functionalism and the Return of Neo-Instrumentality in Education.”]

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