Education Readings June 24th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Politics at its worst and best

This article by Robin Alexander (Cambridge Primary Review Trust) discusses the situation in UK as the vote to stay in or leave the European Union reached the crunch point. There’s much in this article that is applicable in many other countries and I’m sure the points he makes will resonate with you.

‘What has this to do with primary education? Everything. Most schools espouse a vision of human relations which is diametrically opposed to the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric to which we’ve been treated during the past few months. Somehow they must hold the line against that rhetoric’s malign pervasiveness and champion with children the possibility of a more generous and inclusive world.  Most schools – at least we hope this is so – make the quest for truth and understanding paramount in their shaping of children’s curriculum experiences, yet myths, lies and obfuscation have been rather more prominent of late in the public sphere.’

http://bit.ly/28TK12V

Seeing Struggling Math Learners as ‘Sense Makers,’ Not ‘Mistake Makers’

‘In discussions of progressive and constructivist teaching practices, math is often the odd subject out. Teachers and schools that are capable of creating real-world, contextualized, project-based learning activities in every other area of school often struggle to do the same for mathematics, even as prospective employers and universities put more emphasis on its importance. This struggle may come from a fundamental misunderstanding about the discipline and how it should be taught.’

http://bit.ly/28LOvo8

What Educators and Parents Should Know About Neuroplasticity, Learning and Dance

Apart from anything else the children will love it. What else do you need?

‘Talking, writing, and numbers are the media of knowledge. However, we now know that dance is a language, brain-driven art, and also, a fuel for learning subjects other than dance. In short, dance is an avenue to thinking, translating, interpreting, communicating, feeling, and creat­ing. As a multimedia communication that generates new brain cells and their connections, dance at any age enriches our cognitive, emotional, and physical development beyond the exercise itself and extends to most facets of life.’

http://bit.ly/28PhHMb

The #1 Reason for Poor Student Performance

‘His answer is clear: stress. Students from non-supportive and even violent households and environments—which is where, at least in some cases, economics does come into play—are unable to develop higher-order thinking skills.’

http://bit.ly/28QhElu

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Design Thinking and PBL

‘With the development of Modern Learning Environments schools need to consider cross curricular project based learning and design thinking.While project-based learning has existed for decades, design thinking has recently entered the education lexicon, even though its history can be traced back to Herbert A. Simon’s 1969 book The Sciences of the Artificial. So why the resurgence of these ideas?’

http://edut.to/28NMzvW

Art the 4th R

What the Common Core Missed 

‘Art and design work together to form a foundational language that allows us to “speak transmedia” with meaning and articulation. It is a highly portable language that translates well across curricular areas, cultures and the universe of diverse ideas. Above all, it is a language that helps us develop new perspectives, skills and habits of mind for solving problems, mining opportunities,  and “seeing” in its most compelling sense. It is time for Art to take its rightful place along side reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Art isn’t just good for the soul. It is a language we all need to be able to speak.’

http://bit.ly/28P7dws

Building a Nation of Makers

‘Makers, builders and doers – of all ages and backgrounds – always have had a vital role in pushing our country to develop creative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. As President Barack Obama has noted, during this week, “We celebrate the tinkerers and dreamers whose talent and drive have brought new ideas to life, and we recommit to cultivating the next generation of problem solvers.”.The term “making” refers to both traditional outlets for creativity such as metalworking, woodworking and drawing, as well as to digital fabrication made possible by computer design tools, robotics, laser cutters, 3D printers and other tools.’

http://bit.ly/28NNYCS

Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Do children in a keyboard world need to learn old-fashioned handwriting? There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write. And beyond the emotional connection adults may feel to the way we learned to write, there is a growing body of research on what the normally developing brain learns by forming letters on the page, in printed or manuscript format as well as in cursive.’

http://nyti.ms/28NXt4i

How to Design the Perfect Modern Learning Assessment

It seems developing your school as a MLE is the big thing these days! How does one design the perfect modern learning assessment?

‘In good modern learning assessment:

  • students gain instant feedback;
  • they are not penalized for mistakes, and;
  • they are given a chance to apply changes as needed.’

http://bit.ly/28QdknL

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Fundamentals in education

The creation of the mind

‘In recent years education has become more and more cognitive or rational; learning that can be seen and measured so as to prove evidence of growth. In the process real fundamentals have been overlooked.The creation of the mind is more than simply cognitive. The mind is a unified, active, constructive, self creating, and symbol making organ; it feels as well as thinks – feelings and emotions are a kind of thought. Attitudes are created from feelings and emotions.’

http://bit.ly/28Q6HDq

Bring back the Jesters!

‘The idea is worth spreading throughout all organizations to combat the blindness created by past success. It is one way to counteract the conformity which pervades top down management. Telling the truth is difficult in too many environments and as a result organizations fail to adapt to changing environments. As Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘Telling the truth makes you unpopular at the club’”

http://bit.ly/28War1x

Tapping into the student’s world

‘The stance taken about how children learn is vital. Those who think they know more than the child work out prescribed curriculums and, as part of this, develop elaborate systems to see thing as are being learnt – including National testing. This is the ‘jug and mug’ theory of learning where the teacher is the full jug and the teachers job is to pour knowledge from the full jug to the empty mug.For others the aim is to do everything to keep alive those innate desire to learn – or to ‘recover’ it if it has been subverted by prior experiences.’

http://bit.ly/28OwoTx

Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling

Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling

“The conditions for funding include standardised year 1 school assessment of students’ reading, phonics and numeracy skills, annual reports to parents that identify literacy and numeracy attainment against national standards, and a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy skills for year 12 school leavers.

The government also wants to link teacher salary progression to demonstrated competency and achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, rather than just length of service”

 This news item on the recent budget indicates significant changes to the Australian schooling system, the likes of which Australia has never experienced before. Once a nation of learners, we are about to become the world’s busiest and nerviest test-takers.  The changes, cunningly arranged as an adjunct to the budget papers were not commented upon by any teacher group nor by any professional organisation  nor by any political party nor by any candidate nor by any educational journal nor newspaper. An attempt at drawing public attention to the implications through the SMH, failed. The new rules are here to stay.

 The testing industry is now in complete control of Australian schooling and of its associations.  Only a large reaction from concerned parents and opt-outers can change it. Reliance on any political party  to care about the kids they force to attend school is fruitless.  The cry that “Our party will improve school education.” does not ring true until Australia has sorted out what it means by ‘schooling’ and ‘learning’. Until then, the atmosphere is clouded by fear and tension and bullying and unethical conduct.  Teacher groups that purport to represent professional attitudes of teachers, maintain a laissez faire attitude and are noticeably silent.

 Who would want to become a teacher?  There is a serious need for government  to listen to the voices from the classroom and to return teaching to the teachers; and to think more seriously about what it is ding to schools.

 One can now state, without fear of contradiction, that the most outstanding features of Australian schooling on the world’s stage, are…..

 * Children are introduced to the rigours of heavy-duty testing at five years of age.

* Fear-based test preparation occupies one-third of every school year for Years 3,5,7,9.

* Parents and teachers are not encouraged to express their concerns nor given the choice of “Yes” or “No” to test participation.

* School principals do not inform parents of their right of choice prior to test-time.

* School leavers must undertake minimal competency tests of literacy and numeracy in their final year.

* An holistic curriculum is undertaken only by those pupils who attend completely independent schools and by home-schoolers.

* Teachers are punished if their pupils do not perform well at tests held in MAY each year.

 These features are about the most rigorous in the western world. Historical evidence [from the US and UK in particular]  indicates that such features lead to disaster.  The final one stands out. What gives politicians the right to punish? It’s a new and more vicious version of ‘Payment by Results – Revised Code 1862.’[How will candidates  look teachers in the face as they electioneer around schools for the next few weeks?]

 Punishment by Results is the latest innovation for teachers.

 One must ask :  How would Finland’s voters react if these conditions were imposed on their schooling system?

____________________________________________________________________________
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486     cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999

Kleinism : Are we stuck with it?

Please do not dismiss this reading. Here is the real story of how Australia got stuck with Kleinism and the NAPLAN system at the GREATEST EXPENSE to the taxpayer.     `Let’s stop our APATHY and fix the problem. Please advise me if any politician or candidate in this election will promise to DO SOMETHING and SAVE millions of dollars and the future of our greatest asset- OUR CHILDREN.

“That night Treehorn was watching TV.  As he reached over to change channels, he noticed that his hand was bright green. He looked in the mirror that was hanging over the television set. His face was green. His ears were green. His hair was green. He was green all over.

Treehorn sighed. ‘I don’t think I’ll tell anyone,’ he thought to himself. ‘If I don’t say anything, they won’t notice.’”  [The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heidi, Pomegranate Kids, San Francisco, 2011]

Yes. Treehorn had learned. Adults don’t care about kids, especially when kids have a serious concern.

 

KLEINISM – Are We Stuck With It?

In 2008, Minister for Education, Julia Gillard was at a cocktail party  in New York. She met Joel Klein a sweet-talking lawyer who was in charge of New York City’s School District – a very large district. Before the party was over, Ms Gillard was convinced that the Klein system was the best that Australia could buy. It was a bully’s bible. Plenty of fear-based operations. She arranged for him to duck down-under to talk to big business folk in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. ACARA was established.  NAPLAN testing was forced on all state authorities through funding threats; significant groups were cunningly captured and KLEINISM became the control mechanism for all Australian schools…..within a few months.  Joel was proud and openly boasted of the way his system was working in Australia. More Klein features like punishing teachers whose pupils don’t improve and testing 5-year olds have recently been added.

After a little while Joel took a job with Rupert Murdoch at an exorbitant salary, organising the distribution of testing material, test-preparation material and computer programs throughout the world. Billions of dollars. School testing became one of the biggest money-making rackets of all time. It’s a racket, nothing else. Were we sold a pup?  Upon Klein’s departure from the schooling game into the Testing Industry racket, Marc Epstein, through Valerie Strauss The Answer Sheet of THE WASHINGTON POST  wrote….

JOEL KLEIN’S SNOW JOB

In a series of interviews, a valedictory letter to his principals, a segment on the PBS News Hour, and a scrapbook full of clippings from the editorial pages of the New York press, Klein was variously described, and described himself, as America’s most significant educator, a radical, an innovator, and a transformational figure. For the past eight years he has claimed historic academic achievements for the nations’ largest school system that were reflected in higher test scores and record graduation rates!

So with all those seeming accomplishments his sudden departure remains something of a puzzle. His stated goals were to eliminate civil service seniority practices, teacher tenure, close “failing” schools, terminate teachers from closing schools, and expand privately managed funded schools. Klein enjoyed carte blanche from the mayor to pursue these policies and high praise from the president himself. So why end this quest now?

My guess is that it is because Klein’s and Bloomberg’s [NY Mayor] proud boasts of “historic” success dried up once The New York State Department of Education recalibrated the tests scores and New York City’s results fell like a lead balloon. [Bit like Australia’s results now] Overnight, Klein’s claims of pedagogical wizardry evaporated. And with that admission, the New York City “Miracle” went up in smoke.

As a result of this legerdemain, a generation of school children will have passed through the system with marginal literacy skills, when the billions lavished on outside consultants and malfunctioning computer systems designed to track their meaningless “progress” were put in place.

We now know that New York City’s gains on the state tests were illusory. The proportion passing the state reading tests fell from 68.8% to 42.4%, and Klein’s beloved charter schools [Australia calls them oxymoronic ‘Independent Public Schools’] had pass rates no different from the regular public schools.

The inflated graduation rates have been exposed too. With the recent news that 75% of the high school graduates require remedial reading and math when they enter community college, the Klein Era diploma has been rendered meaningless. So ill prepared are these students that the percent who graduate from college is in the single digits.

Despite the collapse of the New York City scores, the pundits and the chattering classes continue to heap praise on Klein. In their complete indifference to facts, the media sound like a claque that talks only to one another. The truth is what they say it is, with hardly a word of dissent tolerated or printed on their Op-Ed pages or in their news reports.

Most of those celebrating the progress made in the schools know about as much about the inner workings of a New York City public school as they the do the interior of a Sea Wolf class nuclear submarine. (Strange, he should mention submarines!)

They have unquestionably bought Klein’s self-congratulatory narrative about public education, as well as his narrow-minded views about teachers and unions. This narrative, as airtight as the most intricate Ptolemaic treatise, posits that a sclerotic dysfunctional bureaucracy ran the school system, and its classrooms were filled with incompetent teachers. That accounted for the dismal graduation results prior to mayoral control.

The Klein “spin machine” managed to convince his boss, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with New York’s opinion makers, that only he was capable of rescuing public education from the clutches of entrenched union and political interests before it was too late.

He accomplished this feat by appealing to liberal, conservative, and libertarian interests that love the rhetoric for their own particular ideological reasons, and don’t want to be bothered with the details.

The reality is something else, but why bother hunting down a story when you can “do lunch” with Joel Klein at a restaurant that serves yogurt at $23 a cup and get the scoop from the Wizard himself?(Are you listening, Julia?}

The question a good reporter should be asking was how did Klein manage to pull the wool over eyes of so many? Was it Bloomberg’s vast media machine or the power of Bloomberg’s fortune shrewdly integrated with the power of the political office he holds?

In part he succeeded because the media was not interested in the details of education administration and were willing to buy the myths spun by a Bloomberg PR machine that would be the envy of most heads of state.

Fail to clear the snow, threaten to close firehouses, or reroute a subway line, and the public outcry is deafening. But restructure the largest bureaucracy in the state four times and the press scarcely manages a yawn.

For conservative/libertarians like Rupert Murdoch, the lure of charter’s, vouchers, coupled with an attack on the hated teacher’s union proved irresistible.

For those on the left, the promise of a Peace Corps-like army of Teach for America volunteers and Teaching Fellows joining hands to close the Achievement Gap, the “civil rights issue of our day,” combined with a kaleidoscope of educational “choice” for disenfranchised students, made Klein’s spiel seductive music to their ears.

Any failures that popped up were airily dismissed because Klein was fine-tuning the mechanism. All Klein had to say to stave off criticisms as one reorganization followed another was that he was bringing accountability to a system that had been unaccountable for decades. Editorial hosannas would follow, drowning out reports of chaos and bewilderment that leaked out from those working inside the system.

Whether or not any of the several reorganizations accomplished anything went largely unexplored. The increase in the annual education budget –from $12 billion to $23 billion—more than the entire economy of some nations—went unnoticed.

As the reorganizations were implemented the school system lurched from tight centralization to extreme decentralization, the lines of communication between schools and central administration became increasingly frayed. Outside evaluators from England would evaluate schools. The pedagogy emphasized bulletin boards, students working in groups with differentiated “footprints,” teachers acting as facilitators, and computer tracking of student progress.

In short, classroom “reforms” represented every combination of a pedagogical game of pick-up sticks one could ever conceive of. Klein left behind a school system in which academic gains have been meager, parents have been shut out, and graduation rates are meaningless. The annual budget has nearly doubled, low-scoring students are shuffled from school to school, discipline problems are hidden, teachers are demoralized, and principals are scared of every twitch in the data, as incompetents rule the administrative roost. What is there to celebrate?

 When will Australia wake up, dump NAPLAN and try some exciting and productive teaching and learning?  Our kids deserve it. Victims of Kleinism, they are not getting a fair ‘crack of the whip’, so to speak! We can lead the world if we try.

The choice of “Treehorn’ as the title for an anti-NAPLAN newsletter is proving to be,sadly, appropriate. Australian adults don’t care much about the traumas that child victims have to endure because of nasty attitude of the Testucators and their ilk. Some parents don’t care. . Politicians, who have the power to improve things, seem to ignore children, quite deliberately, on party lines.

 ____________________________________________________________________________________
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486     cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999

NAPLAN. What a bummer!

A COUNTRY IS JUDGED BY THE WAY IT TREATS ITS CHILDREN.

 

 Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses

 NAPLAN. What a bummer

“It surpasses rabbits,foxes and toads as the most dangerous import ever. There’ll be no progress in commercial, intellectual  or financial fields whil NAPLAN is around.”

 It is common knowledge that Australian schools are not performing as well as they used to do. There are reasons, and the excuses are endless.  If each of these is traced, one will find a common origin.  We know that the decline started as soon as the NAPLAN testing program got under way.  If we had never started NAPLAN testing we know that we would still be up there near the top.  We would, most certainly, not be sliding swiftly down the OCED ladders of international achievements at PISA tests. It surpasses rabbits, foxes and toads as the most dangerous import ever. There’ll be no progress in commercial, intellectual or financial fields while NAPLAN is around. 

 Australia does  things in a funny way way. It prefers to do as it is told by others like the Testing Industry, despite the consequences.  We have high levels of tolerance for the unethical and dysfunctional. That’s NAPLAN by the way.

There will be no  demise of this stupid habit any time soon, despite the evidence being publically presented that it stinks to high heaven. Politicans and would-be pollies don’t give two hoots about real  school education.  For instance…

 1. There’s the Aurukun school riots undoubtedly caused by pupil boredom and disenchantment with an inappropriate basic curriculum.  Believing that NAPLAN should be the school syllabus and nothing else mattered, there was a heavy concentration by school authorities on improving scores. In the belief that NAPLAN scores improved only when direct crash-bang techniques were used, a packaged, teacher-proof  U.S. spirit-talk called Direct Instruction was purchased to sharpen-up the test scores by push, push, shove from jug to mug methods. Too much stress makes people revolt, personally, within and outside the classroom. Almost all school  pupils demonstrate their displeasure  by developing a distaste for the subject, or the teacher who supervises testing, or the school that approves of it. They lose interest in achieving at anything. In Aurukun, they take things to the brink. They go walk-about to dodge school routines, stay at home to play – which they prefer – or go to school with a chip on their shoulder.

Aurukun has certainly highlighted the issues that need to be discussed if positive learning in schools is required.  It’s off the airways now.  Strange.

 2. ABC TV has shown what was described as a ‘turn-around’ in school achievements.  “The Revolution School” {Said to be….‘An inspiring series about everyday Australian kids and the science behind improving education.’} Kambrya High School has set out to overcome the disengagement with learning that can occur with advice, like Aurukun, from extra-school personnel on how to do things.  Most principals, that I spoke to, thought that the show was a yawn, whilst admiring the willingness of the school personnel  to present operations in the raw. For some, the reading programs brought back memories.

NAPLAN is a serious business at the school. It is said “…to provided a snap-shot of achievements’” and users cite other kinds of NAPLAN lingo.; when, in fact it is causing most of the stress.

 Some suggested that the school seemed to be actually teaching ‘Stress”, encouraging dis-interest in schooling and supporting lack of order. Relentless-ness was endemic in staff to maintain some sort of structure and on the part of the kids to maintain disorder. The ‘wild’ young lass in the first episode seemed to be pleading for genuine love….and a good spanking. [ I think she would have made a splendid Chief Courtesy Officer for the school. Put her in charge of ‘courtesy’] The school, according to commentators on a subsequent radio show suggested that Kambrya school was too busy trying to maintain and improve standards, using the accepted but outmoded structural age-grade structure  where achievement gaps are extreme, instead of arranging learning programs based on individual needs.

 The Templestrowe College was mentioned in a subsequent radio interview http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rnafternoons/victorian-high-school-teaching-a-new-way/6353574 or see  http://msec.org.au/tc-map/tc-about/ .This school is organised on levels of ability, not age, and on real pupil choice of learning. .  I imagine NAPLAN testing would be difficult to organise; and quite unnecessary in terms of feed-back.

It can do without NAPLAN testing and there is no way that the school can deliberately prepare for the tests. The curriculum can remain unmolested. and,  if the kids did try the tests, their results  would be high, because of their focus on learning and not on test-prep..

 Australia has the talent, the will and the ability to have the best education system in he world. Why it ties itself to a failed, unAustralian system is difficult to comprehend until you learn of NAPLAN’s origins.

 The power of greedy corporations is excessive and we remain compliant, toady , little Treehorns are green, shrunken relics of what we used to be and what we can be, allowing the big boys to do as they please.. Our political parties are shamelessly professing their commitment to education when they well know that nothing can be done to improve schooling while NAPLAN is around.  We will stay on the PISA pole, sliding down past other countries while this attitude remains.

__________________________________________________
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486     cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999

NAPLAN: Maintaining the Mediocre

NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their cognitive development and emotional stability.

 2016 – The Year to get Rid of NAPLAN – Make It a Great Year for Kids.

 

Vote for Kids. Opt out of NAPLAN

 A Country is Judged by the Way it Treats its Children.

 Think of that on July 2

 

NAPLAN: Maintaining the Mediocre

 Indifference to Facts…..non-interest in details of administration….. drowning-out of chaos and bewilderment….. use of ‘pick-up-sticks’ pedagogy….. demoralised teaching force….. hoodwinked parents….. media disinterest in detail of cause & effect….. sliding down the PISA pole….. political indifference to child abuse.

 If we were to write an Australian version of an article called “Joel Klein’s Snow Job” [Washington Post. 28/01/14] we would have to include the above leitmotifs of Kleinism, imported from New York in 2008 to establish a ‘revolutionary’ way of running schools.

Joel Klein was brought to Australia to sell his ‘pedagogical wizardry’ based on creating stress for pupils at test time; presented it to a gullible Australian Lib-Lab audience, all too comfortable with their neo-liberal prejudices;   and our school children have  suffered ever since.

 Klein boasted magical results from his New York  system which he sold, over a dry martini, to our revered Minister for Education at the time. Like many US citizens, she was sold on the idea of smartening-up the Australian teachers by using this new, ‘revolutionary’  fear-based testing regime. That was what Rupert and Kevin and Joel  wanted. She was sold a pup; no doubt about it. A mongrel.

 Now, millions of Australian children, stressed and bothered by the local version of testucation called NAPLAN, which rhymes with NAPALM, have suffered in emotional, intellectual and developmental health for over 8 years…..a complete  generation of primary school children have been sold out.  We just can’t produce the results we used to. If we have the courage to reinvent schooling, it will need to be soon.

 AND,  truth will out………Do we have the spunk to take notice and remedial action?

 You see. KLEIN WAS FOUND OUT.  Remember, dear reader, this is our system of schooling that we are talking about.

“ His score sheet for New York was recalibrated …and the results fell like a lead balloon.  Overnight, Klein’s claims of pedagogical wizardry evaporated, and with that admission, the New York City ‘Miracle’ went up in smoke”  just where our Rudd/Gillard  Revolution is going.

 “As a result of this legerdemain, a generation of school children will have passed through the system with marginal literacy skills, when the billions lavished on outside advice and malfunctioning computer system designed to track meaningless ‘progress’ were put in place.”  Gains have been illusory says author Marc Epstein,  and the ‘charter schools’ contribution to system change, has not made any difference in results. Australian results represent more than ‘marginal’ decline They are significant……and we don’t seem to care.

 Australian testucators continue to heap praise on the efforts of Klein by continuing with it;  and “In their complete indifference to facts, the media sound like a claque that talks only to one another.”

Many non-school educators who claim that NAPLAN is useful “know as much about the inner workings of a public school as they do the interior “of a French-made nuclear submarine. “They have unquestionably  bought Klein’s self-congratulatory narrative about public education as well as his narrow minded views about teachers and unions.” He would have championed the anti-Gonski political push and probably will if he ever gets the chance….but then he is wallowing in the profits of the Murdoch testing industry too comfortably at present to bother with any other new  ‘trick’..

 “The Klein ‘spin machine’  managed to convince [gullible others], along with other NY opinion makers that only he was capable of rescuing public education from the clutches of entrenched union and political  interests before it was too late.”  He accomplished this feat by appealing to liberal, conservative and libertarian interests that love the rhetoric for their own particular ideological reasons, and didn’t want to be bothered by the details.”

 Journalists didn’t ‘bother hunting down a story when you can ‘do lunch’ with Joel Klein at a restaurant that serves yogurt at $23 a cup and get the scoop from the Wizard himself.”   Ask Julia about that.

 “A good reporter should have been asking how did Klein manage to pull the wool over eyes of so many?  Was it his buddy the NY Mayor’s vast media machine or the power of his fortune shrewdly integrated with the power of his political office”, as did the fortune of Rupert Murdoch became integrated with the political power of Gillard for the Australian market at the time. For conservative/libertarians like Rupert Murdoch the lure of vouchers, charter’s, coupled with a strong attack on the hated teachers’ unions proved irresistible. For others the promise of a Peace Corp kind of reaction to the less-than-honourable tactics of the test industry was unrealised.  Australians are notably compliant when following any American request.  Any counter-testing opposition that popped up was airily dismissed while Klein’s agents in authority in Australia were fine-tuning the mechanism. All they had to say to stave off criticism from one organisation after another was that ACARA, the headquarters for Murdoch/Klein test factories “was that it was bringing accountability to a system that had been unaccountable for decades.” Editorial hosannas  usually follow, drowning out reports of school dysfunctions and bewilderment that are being reported from those working within the system.  Heard of Aurukun lately?

 Klein has left behind, both in Australia and in the USA “… a school system in which academic gains have been meagre.”  Parents have been shut out and basic standards have declined severely. “Low-scoring pupils are shuffled from school to school, discipline problems are hidden, teachers are demoralised and principals are scared of every twitch in the data, as incompetents rule the administrative roost.”  What is there to celebrate in Australian schooling while Australian political parties deliberately ignore the topic?”

————————————————————————————————-

NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their cognitive development and emotional stability.

 2016 – The Year to get Rid of NAPLAN – Make It a Great Year for Kids.

 Vote for Kids. Opt out of NAPLAN

 Why do we tolerate it?

Which party cares about kids.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses

 Which Party Really

Cares About Kids?

Who dares mention ‘NAPLAN’?

Those of us who follow the electioneering stunts with approbation or despair, will have noticed that no political party nor any candidate has mentioned NAPLAN.  There’s a chance that they may not know much about it, because of their total disinterest in children at school and their disrespect for their feelings..

 NAPLAN is a low-down money-making test costing taxpayers about $100 million per year and a third of a year’s learning time, and it has failed miserably. It has caused comparative  test results to decline at a rapid rate. No politician, it seems, has noticed its effects on schooling or the economy or Australia’s place in the world of scholarship..

For some reason NAPLAN [‘Not a word to Bessie.’]continues to be applied to Years 3,5,7,9. and we can be assured that the decline will continue, because that is the kind of test it is. It only persuades kids to dislike the essential subjects of schooling, to dislike their teachers and their school, to become bullies and to be stressed or sick, with some contemplating suicide; so Australia’s  school drop-out rate is amongst the highest in world. Do our pollies care?  No mention of the banning of this Public Enemy No.1.  It’s doing more damage to our children and to our economic future than anything else one can think of. We seem to be too busy talking about Muslims and Gonski and NDN and stadia and reefs, all of minor importance by comparison. The education community rants about Gonski…..and it is very important… but it will have little effect on children’s learning  while NAPLAN maintains such a presence. First things first.

 Indeed, our politicians seem to have this fascist bent to use totalitarian management devices to maintain a testing industry that benefits more big guys off-shore than locals. Some child-abusers want to introduce a testing regime now into YEAR ONE !!  This crazed idea was introduced with the budget. The idea is to find out how well parents have done teaching the basics, so that testucators will have a starting point when the kids reach the next testable level at Year 3 [for the present].  If the scores don’t improve, out comes the big stick, and teachers are punished through their pay packet, as meagre as it is. That’s EDUCATION AUSTRALIA.

 Such a scheme has nothing to do with learning, nothing to do with schooling, nothing to do with teaching. It’s cold and ruthless and useless, but the crazed testucators don’t seem to know too much about motivation, professionalism, administration, management or leadership. Neither do they like kids and teachers.

 Mums and dads can make a difference through the ballot box, soon.

 VOTING  Sadly, many Australians have traded in their franchise and joined political parties or only vote ‘one way’ no matter what the major issue. They relax in the comfort of their party’s prejudices and have no need to think seriously. It’s the remainder who have to be convinced that the banning of NAPLAN is a serious political issue. They elect the decision-makers. Treehorn has tried since the time that NAPLAN was introduced to have it banned… to no avail.  This section of the voting pubic, the one that should have the greatest interest in child welfare, seems to be the most gullible and  those who say that they love kids or have occupations that are supposed to help them  wont do anything to ease their plight.  Those who claim membership of the teaching profession but ignore the code of conduct that applies to their special field of endeavour, were captured early in NAPLAN history. Big business is much better at controlling the indolent and sycophantic than others are. Our school principals, newspaper editors, journalists, community leaders were a piece of cake. They were gagged and remain so. They were all easily bought, remain captured and relaxed.  Australia will sink even lower in international economic development while such groups maintain their lassitude.

 Treehorn and his school companions don’t have much chance, do they ? Australia will just keep sliding down the PISA pole while our kids and our country are denied an exciting future.

Ah well.  An informal vote is as helpful as any other. Kids don’t have a candidate they can rely on.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443    cphilcullen@bigpond.com
http://kelleyandcullen.net/      http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/      http://primaryschooling.net/

Case Study: Australian Education

PLEASE CARE FOR ALL AUSSIE KIDS BEFORE OUR POLITICiANS TAKE US ANY FURTHER DOWN THE WORLD ASSESSMENTS’ LADDER.

 

FIND A POLITICIAN WHO CARES FOR KIDS and TURN HER OR HIM LOOSE.

VOTE FOR GOOD GUYS

Australian Education….Case Study

Refer: Assumptions Underlying Australian Education 2014 Nos. 1&2

1. What is taught and how it is taught in Australia, is decided by one person – the politically appointed representative of the major party in the federal government. [Treehorn Express  18/09/14]

Are lawyers told by a single  politician how to question a suspect, how to write a legal letter, how to exercise their professional knowledge?

Are surgeons told by a lone minister of the crown  how to conduct a serious operation?

Who gave political toughguys permission to tell teachers how to teach?

 Why should the ethics of the teaching profession be ridden rough-shod, when teaching integrity is so important for teaching expertise and child learning to prevail?

 A failed know-it-all from New York ‘got’ to Julia Gillard and Australia is now suffering a down-turn in schooling, the likes of which we have never known. We’re sinking, fast, because of  NAPLAN. There’s no doubt.

 Then……to add to the debacle…

 
Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.12.03 AMM.L.A. Pyne decided, less than a year ago,  that all community schools in Australia should use direct or explicit instruction to smarten up the kids, especially those who are unwilling to attend school and many of whom have to be rounded-up by Attendance Officers. He has also decided
how teachers in such places  should teach.

He thinks that D.I. will help to improve NAPLAN scores. No child love, no compassion, no public discussion, no professional consultation required.

He repeated his edict  through Question Time in federal parliament….. on Monday, 22 September,2015

 Aurukun School rioted and teachers were threatened in May 2016.  Kids reacted to the processes of D.I.

 “I have spoken!” said our erstwhile minister in September.

It is called big D.I. even though it is based on ordinary d.i. in a quirky sort of way,  Pyne simply gives it $22m out of our taxpayers’ purse to make sure it works. [Plenty of unused Gonski money available.] It didn’t work.

 ‘D.I’. a  drill to kill  package. It originates, as does the rest of kleinism, in the USA state of educational chaos, NEW YORK.

 A fellow party Member of Mr. Pyne, who has a number of such schools in his electorate on the Cape, does not approve, as he states in the article “MP fears indigenous students will suffer under controversial literacy program.”

 What, indeed,  gives Mr. Pyne the right to indulge his craze and be at odds with colleagues and state ministers and concerned educators?

 What if Queensland  over-rode Pyne’s pranks?  What happens to the 22 million bucks?

 What if a conspicuous group of educators with a reasonable amount of political clout, objected to this manic breach of professional ethics?

 What if a Union objected to such control politics and told teachers to ignore the issue?

 What if principals stood up to child torment on professional grounds?

 The odds are, however, that the views of Mr. Pyne, Australia-based greatest neolib- C19 traditionalist, will persist in the same fashion that Julia’s did.

 2. There is no legislated safeguard against maverick counter-cognitive curriculum innovations. [Treehorn Express 18/09/14]

No safeguards for what kids learn.

 Politicians are able the treat the teaching profession any way they like. Pride has been drained from the teaching profession over the past six years.

 Who knows, apart from its advocates, what impact this notion  will mean?  Why not talk about things, get teacher opinion;  and research the issue in relation to how children learn best and its relevance to life-long learnacy?

 It appears  that Australian teaching values have been too corrupted by six years of NAPLAN  unctions, for any general or appropriate challenge to be offered. Australia’s future is dead in the water, if this kind of political shenanigans continue. That’s for sure and certain.

 Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.10.26 AM

 ___________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486    cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
looking for a decent political party to vote for….one that thinks

 

Education Readings June 17th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Diane Ravitch to Obama: ‘I will never understand why you decided to align your education policy with that of George W. Bush’

Much of this article is applicable all over.

‘I quite bluntly admit in the book that the pursuit of national standards, national curriculum and national tests is a dead-end. There seems to be an assumption that if every child is exposed to exactly the same material at the same time, achievement gaps between children from rich homes and poor homes will close. If the curriculum is over the heads of the students, and if the tests are made harder, achievement will rise. I now think all of this is nonsense.’

http://wapo.st/1UanR9F

First Comes Achievement. Then Comes Confidence.

Bill Ferriter:

‘A few weeks back, I wrote a bit here on the Radical titled Are Grades Destroying My Six Year Old Kid.  In it, I shared the story of my daughter — who came home broken one day because her progress report wasn’t what she expected it to be.  Her peers were earning threes and fours, but her report was covered in twos — and while she knows little about what those numbers really mean, she felt like a failure.  That broke my heart.’

http://bit.ly/1PuMT1s

Reading: It’s Not Always Fun-damental

‘Parents and teachers work hard to instill a love of reading in young people. In fact, most consider that the love of reading is absolutely essential to a happy, successful, and fulfilling life. They are on an endless pursuit to find ways to cultivate readers or ignite a love of reading.  But what about individuals who prefer not to get their information that way?’

http://bit.ly/1PwR1hq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

9 creativity myths you should stop believing

‘Creativity is a relative subject. Some perceive creativity as an art that can be trained and some think of it as an innate talent. Creativity is associated with many such myths that make people form different opinions of this subject But what defines “creativity” in its true sense?Creativity is anything that stimulates thinking and gives new directions to our thoughts. Keeping into the essence of its definition, any person can be creative in his own way. So, we can say that there is nothing called “born talent” or “innate creativity” in the real world.’

http://bit.ly/25YDEmY

‘Teaching to the test means schools are meeting literacy targets but failing to cultivate a love of reading’

‘It is difficult to work out a balanced view of the role and influence that testing has on the experience of pupils and the quality of their education. Numerous policymakers insist that national testing provides an effective instrument for raising standards and rely on exam results as evidence of achievement in education.Opponents of testing deploy the language of emotional deficit to condemn testing. During the past three decades, a continuous stream of reports have claimed that testing has fostered a climate of stress and anxiety in schools.’

http://bit.ly/1WOb7v5

What I Worry About When I Worry About STEM

‘The bias toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as the subjects for more intelligent, or more productive people is nothing new. It’s easier to see that they instil skills that are useful to industry, and that makes perfect sense, but only if we think education is all about a direct path to employment.We should encourage more young people into STEM, and do much more to demystify these subjects, but are we so worried about the economy that we’re willing to accept that education is simply a path to being an employee or entrepreneur.’

http://bit.ly/1UPQzPA

8 Myths That Undermine Educational Effectiveness

‘Certain widely-shared myths and lies about education are destructive for all of us as educators, and destructive for our educational institutions. This is the subject of 50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education, a new book by David Berliner and Gene Glass, two of the country’s most highly respected educational researchers. Although the book deserves to be read in its entirety, I want to focus on eight of the myths that I think are relevant to most teachers, administrators, and parents.’

http://edut.to/1txkcNd

Classroom Aesthetics: Not the “Art of Teaching” – Teaching As Art

‘Sometimes the magic and beauty of the classroom, the soaring beyond simple skills and content, happens in the most unexpected ways. At these moments, we are experiencing a kind of performance art in the classroom. Take the following example.’

http://huff.to/1UamRCx

‘Rote learning: the pantomime villain in education’

‘In one corner (shall we call it the blue one?) we have Dickensian school-masters in gowns and mortar boards forcing cowed and passive pupils to learn their tables by heart and recite them perfectly at the point of a cane, or these days a stop-watch.

And in the other corner, we have caring, modern-day teachers gently leading their pupils on a journey of understanding where they discover for themselves that three fours are twelve and, because of that intimate and personal experience of learning, they never forget that fact for the rest of their lives.’

http://bit.ly/28IsIJd

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

30 Years ago – so what has changed?

‘Recently I received an e-mail from a student I hadn’t heard of since she was in my class in 1978. She wrote about how great it was to experience the class and how much all that we did has stayed with her over the years. With this in mind I searched out something I wrote, at the time, for the team of teachers I was leading. I was curious to see how much my ideas had changed since then. What follows are extracts I wrote to clarify my thoughts and to share with the team followed by some reflective comments.’

http://bit.ly/1Pi2lxL

Rip van Winkle and schools

‘A recent Time Magazine lead story begins with what it calls ‘a dark little joke exchanged by teachers with a dissident streak: Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred year snooze and is of course utterly bewildered by what he sees’. ‘Every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when finally he walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. “This is a school”, he declares. “We used to have these back in 1906”’

http://bit.ly/1ZzfQiq

We need a new story for our future.

‘What we need, as we make our way into the new millennium, is a new way of thinking to align our thoughts behind. We need a new story , myth, narrative, or metaphor, to replace current thinking – thinking based on a mechanistic emphasis on economic progress, exploitation and short term thinking.

It is obvious that current thinking is unable to solve the problems of inequality in our society – the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow.’

http://bit.ly/1YsZ2uV

Education Readings June 10th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

This week we lost the extremely influential Jerome Bruner. Here are some tributes to him.

Jerome Bruner (1915 – 2016)

University of Harvard:

‘In the course of his three decades at Harvard, Bruner published works on perceptual organization, cognition, and learning theory, all of which departed dramatically from the deliberate mind-blindness of behaviorism, by emphasizing the importance of strategies and mental representations in the processing of real-world phenomena.’

http://bit.ly/1YfnnV3

Scaffolds and spirals

Steve Wheeler:

‘Bruner was one of the founding fathers of the theory of social constructivism, an approach that pervades many of the daily activities in schools across the world. Bruner will perhaps be best remembered for two important contributions to our understanding of learning.’

http://bit.ly/1swvzEj

An Unfinished Quest in Education

‘Bruner resolved to study what he called “cognitive psychology”—how people think and reason, not just how they react and respond. For education, especially, the implications were enormous. Bruner found that even very young children constructed their own knowledge—that is, they made sense of new information based on prior experience and understanding. The job of the teacher was to help students build upon what they already knew.’

http://theatln.tc/1Xb7zTM

Inspiring Educators 3: Jerome Bruner

‘His contribution to understanding learning has been wide, deep, rich and powerful. He was a giant of educational giants. His voice was and remains strong, and his thinking as relevant as ever. Chances are you referred to his work in an essay or project while learning your classroom craft, and with a little excavation you’ll find his ideas underpinning your day-to-day practice.’

http://bit.ly/25Noe1o

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Bruce’s comment: I really value the importance of art in education and in particular the importance of observation in the learning process. Too many children look but do not see and thus do not remember. I believe, in this age of fast and often superficial digital learning, the ‘slow’ learning involved in drawing is an important antidote. Visual education ought to be an important element of a modern education.

Why is teaching kids to draw not a more important part of the curriculum?

‘Drawing plays a big role in our cognitive development. It can help us learn to write and think creatively, develop hand-eye co-ordination, hone analytic skills, and conceptualise ideas.But drawing is rarely used as a tool for learning in schools. Generally teachers aren’t trained in visual education.Drawing is not something that should be confined to art lessons – it’s a skill that can play a role in many different subject areas in school education, and later on in the workplace.’

http://bit.ly/1U831tY

Artists Share “Before and After” Evolution of Their Drawing Skills with Years of Practice

‘Drawing, like all things, requires dedicated practice to master the craft and create amazing works that wow a wide audience. Although many people dabble in art when they’re younger, few people choose to hone their skills into their teens and adulthood. Those that do work on improving themselves have had impressive results—especially when comparing their refined techniques to their early work.Several artists have been sharing the evolution of their work online and the difference in the quality of their drawings is staggering—you’d never realize two particular pieces were made by the same person. An artist’s simple line drawing, created during their early teens, has since become much more detailed with just a few years of practice’

http://bit.ly/1UOCuRf

More Before And After Drawings That Show Remarkable Progress In Artists’ Skills

Showing students visual improvement is one way of developing confidence in learning – old fashioned perhaps but important in this digital era of fast but often superficial learning. Observation may well be the most important basic skill of all.

‘In a previous posting we featured impressive drawings that unveiled the striking evolution of artists’ drawing skills following years of practice. This posting  shows more artists have taken to showcasing their improvement  inspiring growth as artists with these before and after sketches.’

http://bit.ly/25NbQhZ

Drawing May Be Your Brain’s Best Way to Secure a Memory

A new study shows that drawing a picture helps you remember something better than writing it down. Something for teachers to consider.  Drawing gives the brain time to gather information –  important in current digital fast learning environments?

‘A new study out of the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo (UW) shows that drawing a picture helps you remember something better than writing it down. The idea that pictures spark memory better than words is not new — researchers have been trying to get to the bottom of what activities or mnemonics are most helpful in boosting memory since the 1960s.’

http://bit.ly/1U83psi

11-Year-Old Artist Creates Amazingly Detailed Drawings of Wildlife

The wildlife drawings of an extremely talented 11 year old.

‘Meet Dušan Krtolica, one of the most talented 11-year-olds ever. The Serbian child prodigy is a master artist who creates stunningly detailed, nature-inspired drawings with a skill level that is far beyond his years. Using just pen or pencil, Krtolica draws anatomically correct flora and fauna, piling together aquatic life, dinosaurs, insects, birds, and other creatures in dense illustrations that burst with life.’

http://bit.ly/1taPIQ6

How drawing focuses the mind

‘Sketching something close up and looking at it from afar are approached in quite different ways by the brain. When you see something familiar, the higher-order parts of the visual system quickly piece together information from the eyes to help you to understand what you’re looking at.’

http://bit.ly/24AWE59

Art and Math and Science, Oh My!

‘“I think that the unifying thing about all of your interests is that you really like creating and making things, whether that’s a painting or a program.” It was at that moment that I stopped feeling weird about loving both engineering and art, & embraced it, and explored how art and technology were connected. And that’s what I’d like to talk about in this post.’

http://bit.ly/1UgwiUA

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Observation – a basic learning skill

‘Schools need to tap into student’s curiosity and need to express ideas. It is this sensory resource of impressions that is called upon by learners when they come to read. Better still such experiences inspire students to talk, draw, write and then to read their own ideas. Before the word the experience is a simple enough idea – the more you notice the more words and ideas you will develop.’

http://bit.ly/1swvHn4

Importance of observation.

‘Drawing is an ideal way to break through habitual ways of thinking. All too often our students see but they do not look. Observational drawing has long been an important means for some teachers to develop deeper consciousness in students – to assist students see through their habitual ways of seeing and to develop new awareness.’

http://bit.ly/1Up3hSE

Beginning the school year – the importance of observation in learning

‘Observation is an important skill in all areas of learning – all too often students look but don’t see. Close observation encourages a slower pace of work which assists student memory. Once the skill of observation is in place it can be used throughout the year in all learning areas.’

http://bit.ly/1XGc0GO

Are we stuck with it?

Please do not dismiss this reading. Here is the real story of how Australia got stuck with Kleinism and the NAPLAN system at the GREATEST EXPENSE to the taxpayer.     `Let’s stop our APATHY and fix the problem. Please advise me if any politician or candidate in this election will promise to DO SOMETHING and SAVE millions of dollars and the future of our greatest asset- OUR CHILDREN.

“That night Treehorn was watching TV.  As he reached over to change channels, he noticed that his hand was bright green. He looked in the mirror that was hanging over the television set. His face was green. His ears were green. His hair was green. He was green all over.

Treehorn sighed. ‘I don’t think I’ll tell anyone,’ he thought to himself. ‘If I don’t say anything, they won’t notice.’”  [The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heidi, Pomegranate Kids, San Francisco, 2011] 

Yes. Treehorn had learned. Adults don’t care about kids, especially when kids have a serious concern.

KLEINISM – Are We Stuck With It?

 

In 2008, Minister for Education, Julia Gillard was at a cocktail party  in New York. She met Joel Klein a sweet-talking lawyer who was in charge of New York City’s School District – a very large district. Before the party was over, Ms Gillard was convinced that the Klein system was the best that Australia could buy. It was a bully’s bible. Plenty of fear-based operations. She arranged for him to duck down-under to talk to big business folk in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. ACARA was established.  NAPLAN testing was forced on all state authorities through funding threats; significant groups were cunningly captured and KLEINISM became the control mechanism for all Australian schools…..within a few months.  Joel was proud and openly boasted of the way his system was working in Australia. More Klein features like punishing teachers whose pupils don’t improve and testing 5-year olds have recently been added.

After a little while Joel took a job with Rupert Murdoch at an exorbitant salary, organising the distribution of testing material, test-preparation material and computer programs throughout the world. Billions of dollars. School testing became one of the biggest money-making rackets of all time. It’s a racket, nothing else. Were we sold a pup?  Upon Klein’s departure from the schooling game into the Testing Industry racket, Marc Epstein, through Valerie Strauss The Answer Sheet of THE WASHINGTON POST  wrote….

JOEL KLEIN’S SNOW JOB

In a series of interviews, a valedictory letter to his principals, a segment on the PBS News Hour, and a scrapbook full of clippings from the editorial pages of the New York press, Klein was variously described, and described himself, as America’s most significant educator, a radical, an innovator, and a transformational figure. For the past eight years he has claimed historic academic achievements for the nations’ largest school system that were reflected in higher test scores and record graduation rates!

So with all those seeming accomplishments his sudden departure remains something of a puzzle. His stated goals were to eliminate civil service seniority practices, teacher tenure, close “failing” schools, terminate teachers from closing schools, and expand privately managed funded schools. Klein enjoyed carte blanche from the mayor to pursue these policies and high praise from the president himself. So why end this quest now?

My guess is that it is because Klein’s and Bloomberg’s [NY Mayor] proud boasts of “historic” success dried up once The New York State Department of Education recalibrated the tests scores and New York City’s results fell like a lead balloon. [Bit like Australia’s results now] Overnight, Klein’s claims of pedagogical wizardry evaporated. And with that admission, the New York City “Miracle” went up in smoke.

As a result of this legerdemain, a generation of school children will have passed through the system with marginal literacy skills, when the billions lavished on outside consultants and malfunctioning computer systems designed to track their meaningless “progress” were put in place.

We now know that New York City’s gains on the state tests were illusory. The proportion passing the state reading tests fell from 68.8% to 42.4%, and Klein’s beloved charter schools [Australia calls them oxymoronic ‘Independent Public Schools’] had pass rates no different from the regular public schools.

The inflated graduation rates have been exposed too. With the recent news that 75% of the high school graduates require remedial reading and math when they enter community college, the Klein Era diploma has been rendered meaningless. So ill prepared are these students that the percent who graduate from college is in the single digits.

Despite the collapse of the New York City scores, the pundits and the chattering classes continue to heap praise on Klein. In their complete indifference to facts, the media sound like a claque that talks only to one another. The truth is what they say it is, with hardly a word of dissent tolerated or printed on their Op-Ed pages or in their news reports.

Most of those celebrating the progress made in the schools know about as much about the inner workings of a New York City public school as they the do the interior of a Sea Wolf class nuclear submarine. (Strange, he should mention submarines!)

They have unquestionably bought Klein’s self-congratulatory narrative about public education, as well as his narrow-minded views about teachers and unions. This narrative, as airtight as the most intricate Ptolemaic treatise, posits that a sclerotic dysfunctional bureaucracy ran the school system, and its classrooms were filled with incompetent teachers. That accounted for the dismal graduation results prior to mayoral control.

The Klein “spin machine” managed to convince his boss, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with New York’s opinion makers, that only he was capable of rescuing public education from the clutches of entrenched union and political interests before it was too late.

He accomplished this feat by appealing to liberal, conservative, and libertarian interests that love the rhetoric for their own particular ideological reasons, and don’t want to be bothered with the details.

The reality is something else, but why bother hunting down a story when you can “do lunch” with Joel Klein at a restaurant that serves yogurt at $23 a cup and get the scoop from the Wizard himself?(Are you listening, Julia?}

The question a good reporter should be asking was how did Klein manage to pull the wool over eyes of so many? Was it Bloomberg’s vast media machine or the power of Bloomberg’s fortune shrewdly integrated with the power of the political office he holds?

In part he succeeded because the media was not interested in the details of education administration and were willing to buy the myths spun by a Bloomberg PR machine that would be the envy of most heads of state.

Fail to clear the snow, threaten to close firehouses, or reroute a subway line, and the public outcry is deafening. But restructure the largest bureaucracy in the state four times and the press scarcely manages a yawn.

For conservative/libertarians like Rupert Murdoch, the lure of charter’s, vouchers, coupled with an attack on the hated teacher’s union proved irresistible.

For those on the left, the promise of a Peace Corps-like army of Teach for America volunteers and Teaching Fellows joining hands to close the Achievement Gap, the “civil rights issue of our day,” combined with a kaleidoscope of educational “choice” for disenfranchised students, made Klein’s spiel seductive music to their ears.

Any failures that popped up were airily dismissed because Klein was fine-tuning the mechanism. All Klein had to say to stave off criticisms as one reorganization followed another was that he was bringing accountability to a system that had been unaccountable for decades. Editorial hosannas would follow, drowning out reports of chaos and bewilderment that leaked out from those working inside the system.

Whether or not any of the several reorganizations accomplished anything went largely unexplored. The increase in the annual education budget –from $12 billion to $23 billion—more than the entire economy of some nations—went unnoticed.

As the reorganizations were implemented the school system lurched from tight centralization to extreme decentralization, the lines of communication between schools and central administration became increasingly frayed. Outside evaluators from England would evaluate schools. The pedagogy emphasized bulletin boards, students working in groups with differentiated “footprints,” teachers acting as facilitators, and computer tracking of student progress.

In short, classroom “reforms” represented every combination of a pedagogical game of pick-up sticks one could ever conceive of. Klein left behind a school system in which academic gains have been meager, parents have been shut out, and graduation rates are meaningless. The annual budget has nearly doubled, low-scoring students are shuffled from school to school, discipline problems are hidden, teachers are demoralized, and principals are scared of every twitch in the data, as incompetents rule the administrative roost. What is there to celebrate?

 

When will Australia wake up, dump NAPLAN and try some exciting and productive teaching and learning?  Our kids deserve it. Victims of Kleinism, they are not getting a fair ‘crack of the whip’, so to speak! We can lead the world if we try.

The choice of “Treehorn’ as the title for an anti-NAPLAN newsletter is proving to be,sadly, appropriate. Australian adults don’t care much about the traumas that child victims have to endure because of nasty attitude of the Testucators and their ilk. Some parents don’t care. . Politicians, who have the power to improve things, seem to ignore children, quite deliberately, on party lines.

 ____________________________________________