Queensland Premier Cares about Kids

The Treehorn Express

‘The Treehorn Express’ is a tribute to those children who are forced to encounter Standardised Blanket Testing in GERM countries and are forced to suffer from the distress, a narrowed curriculum and loss of positive cognitive development. Like little Treehorn, they are wonderful young citizens, ignored by those who are expected to care… and exploited by those who don’t.




Queensland Premier Cares about Kids

The first Australian politician to speak out against ‘high-stakes tests, narrowed curriculum and misleading results’.

 A State Premier considers whether he’d like his future constituents to be down-to-earth scholars, no matter what their occupation….or….data-driven drongoes.

 Taken in the context of Australia’s present political culture,

last week was an extraordinary week.

 On 31 May, 2013, in a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman said ”

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy [NAPLAN] was intended to provide important information on student performance and identify areas where improvement was needed. Instead, it has become a high-stakes test that is narrowing the curriculum and giving misleading results on student performance.

 Further, NAPLAN does not measure a well-rounded student, who excels in music, drama and sport for example. I note that the effectiveness of NAPLAN has been referred to a Senate Committee Inquiry and I look forward to working constructively with your government in assessing its recommendations.

 Just like NAPLAN, the proposed National Plan for School Improvement is also prescriptive and regimented, offering no clear educational benefits. Introducing new science testing, new national bodies and further research tasks just adds to the already burdensome administration costs and seemingly endless reporting asked of our schools….

 Prime Minister, my government is committed to providing a better education system for the people of Queensland through the measures that I have outlined and not through a blinkered bureaucratic approach that is focussed more on process than better outcomes.”



While it did not make the 20cm front-page headlines that it deserved, it signals the beginning of the end as viewed by Treehorn child-focussed optimists.

The Murdoch Press did not mention the Premier’s attitude to NAPLAN during the days that followed….presumably under instructions from the ‘man who shapes the world’. All references to NAPLAN were ignored. Fairfax gave it scant mention, following standing orders of the ‘Darwin’ kind. While the letter from Mr. Newman was about the Fed’s flatigious funding arrangements and NERA and especially about the patronising federal control of how schools operate….interest groups turned these critical topics into a Gonski-splash. The AEU joined them. Press controllers, teacher unions and professional bodies who have little time for the welfare of children at school shifted the goal posts.


Peter Garrett brushed it away with a wide grin, saying that all will be well by June 30. Not to worry. [e.g. ‘We can handle that little upstart’].

Prime Minister Gillard really got her knickers in a twist [‘The hide of him!’], saying, in a pot-and-kettle exchange, that Mr. Newman was “…either ignorant or motivated by base politics”. Heck.

Christopher Pyne sensed the gist of the letter and said the “the PM’s funding offer is a swindle anyhow.” He didn’t mention NAPLAN either. Indeed, he quite likes its robust, frighten-the-little-buggers modus operandi.

John-Paul Langbroek, Queensland’s Minister for Education, recruited early by Julia as a NAPLAN supporter trusts that things will settle down by June 30. He hopes! Will his boss have the mettle to stand up to Gillard and advise his boy to do his homework properly? J-P is obviously more worried about the money than about kids. Will he go hard with his boss or try to persuade him to take it easy; there’s money in the deal, not morals!? How strong will his Premier be in the cabinet room? If the Premier sticks to his Campbellesque operational style, Julia has a big problem.

Fundamental economists and teachers wonder what all the fuss is about. If you have $540million in one [NAPLAN] pocket and it is useless, used to the detriment of children, why not shift it to the other [Gonski] pocket where it is needed? Besides, if classroom learnings and personal achievements in all matters of learning [See Newman’s reference to ‘well-rounded student’] in all classrooms in all schools do not improve, what’s the good of Gonksi reforms? No mention of this relationship in any press issue.





1. What do Queensland principals do? At present, they are not allowed to let any person enter school premises if that particular person is one who has spoken out or written about NAPLAN in a derogatory manner, where that person is a member of the school’s staff or a member of the P&C or any school committee.

Will this sort of Kleinist requirement be rescinded? Will Queensland’s el supremo be able to enter a school ground? Can Cam?

2. The Queensland branches of various principals’ associations and ‘professional’ groups have always approved of the running of NAPLAN since their forced conversion to Klein-based schooling in 2008. They have willingly complied with the wishes and dictates of Ms. Gillard and her agents. What do they do now? Where does their loyalty lie? Cam? Julia? Their profession? Once upon a time…..

Such associations have always had the ultimate power to stop NAPLAN in a wink, it must be noted. All they needed to do was exercise their previously-held professional ethics. Thanks to their Premier, they might feel more comfortable now about re-joining the world of educators. Give them a big welcome back to your world, kids.


Welcome back to child-loving, fear-less, mastery learning, happy, learnacy-oriented, high-achievement-seeking classrooms, Queenslanders. Your Premier has set the main!


 Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486

07 5524 6443



One thought on “Queensland Premier Cares about Kids

  1. The Prime Minister said, ‘that Mr. Newman was “…either ignorant or motivated by base politics”.’ As I’ve indicated before, Ms Gillard is not on the top of my Christmas card list, but neither is Newman. NAPLAN is just so obviously bad that even Captain Newman has latched on to the thread of criticism among concerned parents and educators in order to give his lack of cooperation with Gonski a cloak of gravity and respectability. While I’d like to believe that Campbell Newman is actually motivated by a real concern for a broader, more balanced curriculum, and more importantly equity in education funding, I fear that there is a good deal of evidence of his ignorance and motivation by base politics. (See my comment, June 7)

    I’d feel more confident if Newman backed up his apparent repudiation of the aims and effects of NAPLAN and withdrew Queensland students from participation, given the harm that inevitably flows to education and children from this alien imposition from the Murdoch machine. That would expose Campbell Newman and his opposition couldn’t be ignored. But I don’t exactly see that happening any time soon.
    I hope I’m wrong.

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