How Do We Get Rid of the Curse, NAPLAN?


 A country is judged by the way it treats its children.

Just HOW Do We Get Rid of NAPLAN?


 When NAPLAN was introduced by Julia Gillard into Australia  in 2008, it was backed by the Murdoch empire. She was conned, pure and simple, by Rupert’s henchman, Joel Klein who was good at his job.   It was known to have the potential to make billions of dollars for the Testing Industry; and his entrepreneurs had the savvy to organise the Australian stakeholders in such a way that Australians with neoliberal value systems thought it wasn’t such a bad idea. The BCA and IPA- The Club (G.Carlin)- backed the idea as a profitable business venture. Those who warned of its potential to ruin Australian progress on the world’s economic stage and of it’s certain effects on the intellectual emotions of the young children of Australian, saw that its threat  might be curbed if enough fair-dinkum Aussies got together. Others, who sat on the fence, mostly politicians, school principals and private school boards were worked over by managerial experts. They were easily captured….easy meat.

 NAPLAN has since lived up to the fears of the experienced educators,  who saw it as an economic cultural threat. It has proved itself to be a dismal failure as an instrument and has had a serious toxic effect on other aspects of Australian schooling. The rally held in Brisbane recently emphasised these issues. ‘Coming the heavy’ on very young people [5 year-olds], for instance, is as nasty as you can get. If something is not done soon, Australia will surely suffer in both intellectual and economic terms.  NAPLAN is certainly a failure.  At best, it’s a nasty business. Australian teachers know of better ways of motivating learning and accounting for achievements than using unreliable, boring, brutish tests that impact negatively on the learner. The testing industry has failed us.

 Sisyphus had it easy. NAPLAN has become a burden of enormous proportions. Getting rid of it as the Learning Industry tries to do,  isn’t easy.  Hardened by tonnes and tonnes of brass, it’s costing the Australian taxpayer billions of dollars to maintain a failed operation. It’s a useless, barren rock and nobody really understands what it is all about. Getting rid of it has proved to be an enormous undertaking.  When it was re-located  from New York, it was seen that getting rid it would be a ‘piece of cake’; because, it was thought,  no professional person of worth nor loving parent would tolerate the nasty kinds of treatment that NAPLAN has to use.  However, pups were easy to sell at the time and we were given a real mongrel.  Put simply, it’s because HE says we must, we now do. As the supreme authority of the testing industry and possessor of the means to control the minds of millions through adroit use of his media empire, opponents must try to push the barren lump up a steep hill without relenting in any way. The silence of the easily controlled Labor and Liberal and Green Parties have been stumbling blocks along the way; when they should be strong supporters. It certainly looks as if each one is owned by interests other than those of its members.  If one of these parties should display itself as composed of worthy citizens, success in the elections would be a shoe-in for their party….and mean progress for our schools.  They are too well controlled, however,  so the hill gets steeper for kids’ supporters.

 Which group of citizens would be most likely to persuade the government to get rid of NAPLAN.?

 Parents ?   David Hornsby  of the Australian Literacy Education Association has always believed that the parents of Australia would see beyond the mischief of NAPLANNers and would certainly be disturbed by the kind of intellectual abuse and stress that their children have to suffer at NAPLAN time;  and would opt out in droves.  Yes. NAPLAN has done a lot of damage to kids and thousands of parents are opting-out. David and his literary folk are right.

Parents of Australia now seem to be faced with a couple of choices…..

1. Do I withdraw my child from the test because of the mental damage that part of the test ?

2. Do I withdraw my children from school and home-school them; because NAPLAN abuses children for one-third of each of their NAPLAN years and beyond? That’s a large waste of learning time…and a living curriculum gets ignored. Did you know that home-schooling in Australia is growing dramatically?  If a parent has the time to give to their kids, it’s the only way to go, under present circumstances.

Parents Associations of various kinds have maintained a neutral position, it seems, though the mood is changing.  Without any recommendation from any parent body, most parents are withdrawing their children from nasty NAPLAN operations.

There is a great deal of hope that Australia’s thoughtful  parents will win the day.

 School Principals ?  When NAPLAN was introduced, I was absolutely certain that the ink would not dry on any document, before the network of Principals’ Associations and individual principals would just say, “No Way. No teacher ever joined the profession to do this sort of thing to children. You are asking us to drop our profession’s code of conduct and be deliberately nasty to children, We don’t do that.”

I was so sure that this would happen. Following a close association with Primary Principals’ Associations in Queensland, NSW and ACT, I would have bet my life on it. The principals that I had known were not of the toady kind when it came to caring for kids. I cannot figure what changed the atmosphere? Can anyone?

When I read the APPA submission to a Senate Inquiry that opened with “APPA supports NAPLAN”,  my heart truly sank. I could not believe it. I had always  believed that the Queensland Association, when it was a proud PRIMARY association and  a member of APPA, was a professional association of the highest order, and recalled many discussions with them  about this topic. [It’s a long story, but I was disgusted to learn what was happening after many years of close connection between the Principals Association and the State Division of Primary Education.  We had been so close, conscientious and professional. We were as one.  The was pride in primary.  I still have difficulty in believing what happened, and double-disgusted to see that nothing has happened to repair the damage, since. It is a sad time for kids when your mentors desert you.

 \Learned Societies ?  The Australian Council for Educational Leadership A.C.E.L. and the Australian College of Education A.C.E. consist mostly of academics and state officials who express concerns over contemporary issues when the occasion presents itself. Because of their personal alliances with the high and mighty, they are cautious. They can control the heat in the kitchen and they do. Moderation in all things, no matter how serious.

 It would be a welcome addition to Australian educational thought if one or all of these kinds of groups could devote one of its annual conferences to Standardised Blanket Testing, if they were allowed.

A note of caution, however……. When the APPA did so a few years ago, the messages from its lead speakers and from the deliberations, didn’t seem to make the mainstream press.  Impactful press reports didn’t make it to print. Strange how the truth gets cut off.

 Subject Associations ?  I know of no Subject Association that supports NAPLAN. Most oppose it rigorously and there is a large number of them. They represent the real chalk-face. The Australian Literacy Education Association has ‘set the main’ and, with more support, could be a major influence in helping parents tell their politicians to ‘Ban NAPLAN or butt out’.

 It is now a WAR, [in the best Turnbull-Morrison-Shorten sense]. It’s the Testing Industry versus the Learning Industry.

 The Testucators are in power and have the big guns. Financially powerful, they dominate the battlefield and their victims have been many. They are in total control  and keep adding more punishing assault weapons to their arsenal, sneaking them onto the battle-field wrapped in paper. They are supreme, nasty and unthinking. They prefer to abuse kids.

 As George Carlin says, Testucators “…don’t want a well-informed population, capable of critical thinking. That’s against their interests.”

 Learners, who care for kids,  are too easily overcome, however. The majority do as they are told but their gladiators are prepared to stand up to the nasty marauding hordes of money-makers on behalf of their kids and their future. It’s all about kids’ welfare and progress and that’s worth fighting for. They need more gladiators.

 When they all stand up and refuse to budge, the war will be over and the battlefield will be  green and colourful with progress.

 Where do your sympathies lie? The Testing Industry or The Learning Industry. There’s no connection in any serious way any more.


Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   0407865999



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s