Treehorn Express:

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience that have stood the test of time


Coming soon to a newspaper near you –

for the sake of our kids.


This headline from Seattle, featuring a pencil and the bubbles on a test paper that all GERM test pupils everywhere, even our little Year 3 Aussie kids use to register their answers, appeared last week when the entire staff of a large high school and other schools in the vicinity refused to handle the high-stakes blanket-testing papers called MAP [Measures of Academic Performance]. We call it NAPLAN testing down here which measures the same things. The full complement of teachers at the school said that “…we respectfully decline to give the tests to any of our students this year.”

The teachers went on to say that they had come together and agreed that the testing program is ‘… no good for students, nor is it an appropriate nor is it a useful tool in measuring progress….It produces specious results and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks the test is administered…..To use this as a tool to evaluate our teaching makes no sense. They’re setting us up;’ The teachers also added that their schools had a proud tradition of knowing the ‘whole child’ and the tests do not adequately describe the story of the child nor of its potential.

The school students applauded the move of their teachers. Said one, “I know when I took the test, it didn’t seem relevant to what we were studying in class. I know students who just go through the motions when taking the test, just did it as quickly as possible so they could do something more useful with their time.’

{In other parts of the USA, Year Nine students are writing on each paper, when they are distributed on test days : “I do not wish to do this test.” or “I prefer not to.{ [see below]; then signing it and being courteous but resolute to teachers, administration staff and principals by repeating the phrase gently and pleasantly if they are queried about their motives or whatever. It’s an easy way for responsible young teenage students to respond to Orwellian control. In most cases, their teachers understand and applaud.}

A former pupil of the school, now a U. of Washington Professor writes :”At the most basic level the national GERM agenda requires teachers’ compliance. So, regardless of individual motives, when a group of teachers collectively and publicly says NO, that represents a fundamental challenge to those pushing the elite agenda….when used as part of teacher evaluation – a purpose for which it was not designed – it makes the test a part of junk science.”

This league of schools at Seattle has said, “The GERM-based test program ought to be shut down immediately. It has been and continues to be an embarrassing mistake. Continuing it for even another day let alone another month or year or decade, will not turn any sow’s ear into a silk purse.”


In describing these events, Valerie Strauss, renowned journalist with The Washington Post said : “The boycotts are part of a growing grass-roots revolt against the excessive use of standardized tests to evaluate students, teachers, schools, districts and states… Parents have started to opt out of having their children take the exams. School boards have approved resolutions calling for an end to test-based accountability systems. Thousands of people have signed a national resolution protecting high stakes tests; Superintendents have spoken out, and so have teachers. It has been building momentum in the last year since the Commissioner for Education in Texas, said publicly that the mentality that standardized testing is the ‘end-all be-all’ is a perversion of what quality education should be.”

It’s happening in all GERM countries.

Australia: Say NO to NAPLAN


The Bartleby Project   John Taylor Gatto, strong opponent of the schooling hegemony which conducts ‘mass abstract testing… only because ‘they prefer to torture those who expect to be tortured.’, suggests that Year 9 people should write on their standardised GERM-tests, “I would prefer not to.”. This is the phrase that Bartleby the Scrivener’, the hero of an 1853 book by Herman Melville, used to write on any stupid work that he was expected to scriven. In a most compelling article, Gatto calls for an enormous uprising by secondary school stdents [aka human beings] to conduct a mass refusal with no sign of acrimony attached to a quiet revolution..

In promoting the Bartleby Project, Gatto says: “Mass abstract testing, anonymously scored, is the torture centrifuge whirling away precious resources of time and money from productive use and routing into the hands of testing magicians. It happens only because the tormented allow it. Here is the divide-and-conquer mechanism par excellence, the wizard-wand which establishes a bogus rank order among the schooled, inflicts prodigies of stress upon the unwary, causes suicides, family breakups, and grossly perverts the learning process – while producing no information of any genuine worth. Testing can’t predict who will become the best surgeon, college professor, or taxi-cab driver; it predicts nothing which would impel any sane human being to enquire after the scores.

Standardized testing is very good evidence that our national leadership is bankrupt and has been so for a very long time. The two-party system has been unable to gives us reliable leadership. Its system almost guarantees we get managers, not leaders; I think Ralph Nader has correctly identified it as a single party with two heads – itself educationally bankrupt.”

Parents. Tell your children’s principal, nicely : “I prefer not to.”

Year 9s. Tell your exam. supervisor, nicely : “I prefer not to.”


A Mass March    It is expected that many thousands of parents and teachers will again gather in Washington to occupy the Department of Education from 4-7 April. Under the banner of ‘CAN’T BE NEUTRAL

The ‘Movement to End Corporate Education Reform’ [ ] aims to express parent resistance to the present-day corporate-driven neoliberals’ assault on education. This organisation seeks to help educators, parents and members of the public to understand the resistance to the assault on schools, society and democracy. [so obvious in our Australian politico-education system] Since Australia’s fear-based GERM testing regime has organised a level of school-based fear that is the most severe in the world and, therefore, has further to go than the USA has in order to break the chains locked in place by “the social engineers who have seized control of institutional schooling.” [Gatto]

Read about the ‘goings on’ on the United Opt-out website in April while our Aussie kids are doing the annual April sweat through the stress-ridden preparation for NAPLAN in May. You won’t hear about the Washington march in the Australian press. NAPLAN-disrespectful items are usually embargoed.

PARENTS: When you enrol your child at school this year, make sure that you ask for a NAPLAN ‘Yes or No’ form. You do have some rights left.

 “The frequent ceremonies of useless testing – preparation, administration, recovery – convert forced schooling into a travesty of what education should be; they drain hundreds of millions of days yearly from what might otherwise be productive pursuits; they divert tens of millions of cash resources into private pockets. The net effect of standardised testing [e.g.NAPLAN] is to reduce our national wealth in future generations, by suffocating imagination and intellect,while enhancing wealth for a few in the present.”

[ J.T.Gatto: ]


Finland admirers will enjoy :


Click: ‘Care for Kids’

Phil Cullen

January 20 2013

2 thoughts on “Boycott

  1. Thank you Phil for bringing this to our attention. I am attending and speaking at the 16th International Conference on Thinkong in Wellington NZ this week. I will be very interested to discover the extent to which GERM is a subject of conversation and concern.


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