A Clear & Present Danger – Pyne


Pyne – Charlie McCarthy

The ABC’s ‘Q & A’ TV program on Monday, 28 October 2013 clearly illustrated what happens to children when political ideology controls the curriculum. Children’s welfare takes a back seat. Mr. Pyne, the new centre of attention, made it clear that Aussie children’s learning will continue to be deliberately obstructed in favour of collecting test scores. I was left with the frightening impression that Mr. Chris Pyne is a dangerous person, worse that Garrett, Gillard or Nelson who seems to believe that small children are his robots with skin plastered on, and that he doesn’t care two hoots how children [especially Year 3s] feel. He looked like a spoiled brat, with a Costello smirk, who is determined to get his way no matter what anyone else thinks, no matter how kids feel and no matter what evidence exists. He takes the conservatism movement too far back in history.

He treats each interview such as Q&A as a school debate. The topic is unimportant; winning the argument is. It is noticeable that embarrassing questions are usually diverted to his favourite sport of denigrating teachers and principals as if he alone can improve the quality of a profession that he knows nothing about. Doesn’t he realise that all professions can improve their activities by personal quality control. He has a hide to single out teaching !

His knowledge of schooling is so limited that, as Murdoch’s Charlie McCarthy, he now screeches ‘on-line testing and data collection’. Those of us who taught as we were taught can appreciate his weak knowledge of classroom teaching and learning behaviour. He needs to realise that we are now in the 21st Century and that teacher-interactive pupilling of an holistic [not his silly bloody ‘robust’ 19thC model] curriculum in ever-changing technological surrounds is here to stay. NAPLAN and its failed aims have no place…..at all. Ask, as Ray Martin did, the teachers. They are loosening the Gillard bonds off totalitarian control, the ‘You are forbidden to discuss NAPLAN honestly with parents or give them a choice” forms, and are speaking out now for the sake of kids. As we move closer to the NAPLAN Test Period [November to May] this should intensify.

Australian classroom teachers are regarded as outstanding on the world stage. Keenly sought after in other countries because of their quality – their attitude and professionalism – they don’t need high-flying nincompoops to tell them what to do. They have been a very quiet lot….until now. We should listen to them.

Pyne does no favours for the Liberal National Party, his colleagues, his electorate or fellow members knowing that they have such a representative in such an important portfolio. He just shouldn’t be allowed near children other than his own! It is not comfortable to confront the reality that such a rude, talk-over, information-deaf, self-important, know-it-all fibber is in such a critical political position. The portfolio is too important to be treated like that. Corrective Services, maybe; but even then. He is no credit to conservative politics.

Fancy talking glowingly about oxymoronish Independent Public Schools aka Charter Schools, [started by Bill and Melinda Gates and now not doing what they thought they’d do in New York, California and a few other states] and attributing their ‘success’ in W.A. to issues of autonomy. If autonomy works so well, why not just grant it to all schools [Is ‘autonomy’ grasped or granted, by the way?]. Why try to bribe jurisdictions to accept the idea? Why? What’s the problem? He must know where the charter misfit came from! He must know the purposes that they are used for in other places. $$$$

Wouldn’t you like to see a debate on TV, hosted by Ray Martin [who knows what he is talking about], perhaps, between Christopher Pyne and New Zealand’s Shadow Minister Chris Hipkins who says, “Let me be very clear about our position on charter schools. We see no place for them. And any charter schools established under the current government will have no future under us. Our focus will be on ensuring that every school is a great school.”

He added that ‘National Standards’, the N.Z. equivalent of NAPLAN, “….narrows the focus of teaching, encouraging teachers and pupils to focus time and attention on getting pupils over an arbitrary hurdle, rather than supporting that child to achieve full potential.” Such testing will go since “…results are no measure of effective teaching.”


What a discussion it would be. Christopher P. trying to talk down to a political colleague who knows what schooling is about.


A School System Model that the World Needs

“Give back the chalk. Get away from the blackboard.” said Wendy Harmer to the face of Mr. Pyne. [She’s Ministerial material!]

Imagine a schooling system in which the managerial, administrative, organizational and leadership control changes from what it is today to a true-blue school based system. It is possible, by the way…..


Organisational management, such as this replacement hierarchical framework suggests, is entirely possible. It starts where it needs to start…. child welfare and achievement.

At the top of the control system should be those people who, from school days, wanted to be teachers and help young children to develop personal learning styles to achieve as much as they can. Such people undertook years of academic and practical study, and application, at tertiary institutions before experiencing further years of chalk-face teaching to all sorts of children in all sorts of places with all sorts of abilities. There are thousands and thousands of these expert school educators who, together with the expertise of trained and experienced classroom teachers, would know, far more than anyone else in the country, how to run an effective education system. They need to be put in their place ….the top.

Why use experience-free ex-university students, as we do, who have built on their expertise in measurement and little else to run education systems? Plumbers don’t run garages. Five years of it is enough. Let’s try classrrom experience expertise. There’s plenty available.

Since the country’s future is in the classrooms of today, a model can be developed that can locate overall control in the hands of experts…not in the hands, as it is today, of sciolists, measurers, test-lovers, testucators and lawyers.

This proposal does not suggest simple representation from organised principals and teachers’ groups, now cloistered in the management of their historically developed cultures, isolated from confronting global and holistic issues, which, as professional mendicants vis-a-vis esoteric operators, are generally inert when serious issues arise.

The need is for a leader [like Chris Hipkins] who has the capacity and the will to stop the nonsense completely, and for all electors to RETHINK. What the hell are we doing to our children?

Do we really need another Murdoch mouthpiece to tell us what to do?


Phil Cullen 414 Cominan Avenus, Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com.au


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