Education Readings October 7th

By Allan Alach

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

If I Were Secretary of Education – A Classroom Teacher’s Fantasy

If only teachers were given the chance to run education.

Steven Singer:

‘I’m only a classroom teacher. The powers that be don’t trust someone like me with that kind of responsibility. It’s okay to give me a roomful of impressionable children everyday, but there’s no confidence I can make sound policy decisions. For that we need someone with experience in management – not schools, pedagogy, children or psychology.’

http://bit.ly/2dTnW4R

Creativity and Academics: The Power of an Arts Education

‘The arts are as important as academics, and they should be treated that way in school curriculum. This is what we believe and practice at New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA). While the positive impact of the arts on academic achievement is worthwhile in itself, it’s also the tip of the iceberg when looking at the whole child. Learning art goes beyond creating more successful students. We believe that it creates more successful human beings.’

http://edut.to/2dyPKeZ

Government hell-bent on dismantling public education, says Auckland professor

New Zealand education is also under attack, as the government follows the overseas rule book.

‘Make no mistake, Minister of Education Hekia Parata is on a mission to systematically dismantle public education. Changes already in place and those planned will radically alter the education landscape in New Zealand. Public education serves many purposes. It prepares young people for a life of work, teaching basic skills in literacy and numeracy. This is seen as its primary purpose by the minister.’

http://bit.ly/2dyozkN

Why I Threw Away My Rubrics

‘It was only when I was on the receiving end of a rubric, while taking a graduate-level education class, that I had my first critical thought about rubrics. After looking at the rubric the professor had completed for me, I wondered, where is the human response in all of this?’

http://bit.ly/2dwcVs2

The Problem with Exemplars

‘While I believe showing examples of quality work can be useful, many students immediately shut down when they perceive too great a gap between their current ability and what is deemed exemplary. I’m certainly not against the use of high quality exemplars but caution against too few examples as well as a lack of scaffolding to see where incremental success can be found. In addition, the power comes when the student decides what they want their work to be.’

http://bit.ly/2e6Bj4u

Charters and Choice: Research Shows Negative Impact

So much for the ‘school choice’ ideology:

‘The press continually gets eye-fulls of graphics indicating that accountability and charter schools can increase student performance. Rarely are these studies peer reviewed and almost none ask the questions that policy researchers should investigate. Few ask what will be the most likely results of reforms.  These papers shout out the supposed benefits of favored policies while ignoring their inherent costs.’

http://bit.ly/2dyoTA8

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) – pedagogy from Jerome Bruner

Bruce’s latest blog posting:

‘Bruner’s ideas are in opposition to the standardized direction being imposed on our schools but are surely the essence of what a modern learning environment is all about? ‘Towards a Theory of Instruction’  is the book, first published 1969, I want to share today..’

http://bit.ly/2dt7igI

Finnish education: a system based on equity, trust & responsibility

Yet another article on Finland for the reformers to ignore. Why is this? Maybe this is the answer:

‘Teaching is a respected profession In Finland, and teachers have a great deal of autonomy in the delivery of the curriculum and caring for their students’ welfare and learning.’

http://bit.ly/2duRCGq

Getting Restless At The Head Of The Class

‘They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up. Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don’t feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.’

http://n.pr/2cMvSrE

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why are teachers so reluctant to change?

‘Changing entrenched mindsets is a difficult task even for those in charge. Leaders are more conditioned that those lesser mortal working at the fringes. The idea of getting to the top to change things is a myth. Creative ideas are always watered down by what is possible – the art of compromise.’

http://bit.ly/1Pfwbnk

An amoeba – a model for future change!

‘It seems strange to think of one of natures most simplistic animals as metaphor for an organizational model for the future but the amoeba is a good choice, as it has survived almost as long as life has been on the planet. It is able to sense environmental threats through its semi permeable membrane and move away from threats – it is also able to equally sense the opportunity to move to a better environment or to seek out food which it simply engulfs. The intelligence of the organism is centred in its nucleus and a deeper look indicates it is not as simple as it first looks.’

http://bit.ly/1hRC8eF

The killing of creativity by the technocrats.

The killing of creativity by John Hattie

As I visit classrooms I have become increasingly concerned about the use of a number of strategies as defined by John Hattie and promulgated by the contracted advisers spreading the word about his ‘best practices’.Somehow, just because Hattie has amalgamated every piece of ‘school effectiveness’ research available ( mainly it seems from the USA) his findings, it seems, ought to be taken for read. The opposite ought to be the case – we need to be very wary of such so called ‘meta research.’. More worrying however is that the approaches he is peddling is pushing into the background the home grown innovative creative learning centred philosophy that was once an important element in many classrooms. Overseas experts always seem to know best – or those that return with their carpet bag full of snake oil.’

http://bit.ly/WeTrMo

Education Readings March 25th

By Allan Alach

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

The forcible conversion of England’s schools to Academies (Charter Schools)

This announcement by the British government has sent shock waves around the country and mass rebellion is developing. New Zealand teacher John Palethorpe, a relatively recent immigrant from the UK, discusses why this is such a giant step into a potential quagmire.

“There is already a growing and vocal opposition to all of the plans outlined above, as well there should. Announcing you’re ditching LEA oversight and support of schools, dumping the need for any school to employ qualified teachers, dropping the National Curriculum, scrapping nationally negotiated terms and conditions and placing schools in a bidding war for new teachers is a huge and complete evidence free attack on the quality and professionalism of education in the UK.”

http://bit.ly/22IMa4k

Forced academisation, shambolic assessment, budgets shrinking, teacher morale in crisis: is this the perfect educational storm?

Another article about the threat to English schools.

“Are we witnessing the final element of the perfect storm for schools?  Probably. This government plans for all schools to become academies certainly suggests we have reached that stage. First of all, a definition: according to one online dictionary, a perfect storm is “a detrimental or calamitous situation or event arising from the powerful combined effect of a unique set of circumstances”. Boy, do we have those circumstances. Unfortunately we have a government totally unaware of what devastation such a storm will have on our profession.”

http://bit.ly/1T8w2qe

A Crack in the Dam of Disaster Capitalism Education Reform?

“When the education reform movement kicked into high gear, the promises were grand and the evidence was thin, but now we are beginning to have evidence of how the grand claims have wilted on the vine, and the fruit is rotting all around us.”

http://bit.ly/1UP1qKv

Blinded by Pseudoscience: Standardized Testing is Modern Day Eugenics

‘Once again, standardized tests are used as the justification for doing something obviously racist. If anyone said, “We’re going to close and privatize all the schools serving minorities and the poor,” people would revolt. However, when you say we’re doing it because of standardized tests – because of “science” – people just shrug and say, “You can’t argue with that!”’

http://bit.ly/1RkfQBh

Why We Don’t Do Art in School (And Why We Should)

“We are now reaping the results of a dedication and devotion to commercialism and consumerism. If we are to evolve beyond a culture that confuses adolescent posturing with political debate, we’ll need to offer our youngest citizens a climate encouraging freedom of thought, imagination and inquiry. We’ll need to grow a new kind of citizenry. And that means we’ll need to invest in the material conditions that will facilitate the release of every child’s inherent creative talent.”

http://bit.ly/1UPs8m2

Secret Teacher: our obsession with targets is hurting vulnerable pupils

“The government needs to recognise that there is no such thing as a “standard” child. Children don’t develop at the same rate and the increased pressure for them to achieve more and more at a young age won’t change this. All it will do is crush the confidence of those who find it more difficult, for whatever reason – and jeopardise their chances of ever reaching their potential.”

http://bit.ly/22z0sIf

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

“Growth Mindset, Revisited”

“The growth mindset was intended to help close achievement gaps, not hide them. Renowned psychologist and author Carol Dweck describes her work to help educators adopt a deeper, true growth mindset, one that can show in classroom practice and throughout school systems.”

Watch the first 30 minutes.

http://bit.ly/1UdUzvq

When School Leaders Live in the Middle

Won’t happen to me, I said. I can cope. Hah. Famous last words.

“School leaders are faced with stress as part of their daily jobs; however, left unaddressed, stress has the potential of becoming mentally and physically exhausting. School leaders need opportunities for stress reduction as well as the means to predict and anticipate stress in an effort to minimize its effects. This commentary discusses leadership-related stress and offers strategies to minimize and cope with stress.”

http://bit.ly/1RA2TyX

The Destruction of New Zealand’s Public Education System

“This government is destroying our amazing collaborative, holistic public education system that recently led the world. They are determined to implement systems that have failed spectacularly overseas. Professional knowledge based on evidence should lead education, not political ideology. What angers me the most is what is being denied to our most vulnerable children when they should be the real focus of spending and any systemic change.”

http://bit.ly/1WMOXGj

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Developing talent in young people?

“I have always been curious about the early life of talented individuals so I was interested to access a copy of an article written on the subject by Benjamin Bloom published in 1985. I have  wondered what creative individuals like NZ filmmaker Peter Jackson would’ve been like at school and what kind of school would such creative individuals invent if they were given the challenge?”

http://bit.ly/1MEXXaB

What do we all need to be life long learners?

“We need to ask what kind of world our students will be entering. One thing is certain it will not be a predictable one and their ‘passport’ to the future will need to contain fully developed gifts and talents along with the dispositions to learn from whatever experience they will have to face (in the language of the ‘new’ curriculum be equipped with ‘key competencies’). Our current education system marginalizes student’s creativity and talents and this will be worsened with national standards.”

http://bit.ly/1q4BBuF

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

High hopes for happy learning

“School is also about learners discovering their aspirations and dreams, with all of these factors not only enhancing learner happiness and well-being, but also making a crucial contribution to their future success in life and work.”

http://bit.ly/1SjWzi2

Education Readings February 12th

By Allan Alach

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

Online Public Schools Are a Disaster, Admits Billionaire, Charter School-Promoter Walton Family Foundation

Oh what a surprise…..

“The majority of online charter students had far weaker academic growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers,” their experts’ press release said, after noting that kindergarten-through-high school students need to be in classrooms with live teachers, not occasional faces on computer screens. “To conceptualize this shortfall, it would equate to a student losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math, based on a 180-day school year.”

http://bit.ly/1o7tpJs

How Measurement Fails Doctors and Teachers

“Education is experiencing its own version of measurement fatigue. Educators complain that the focus on student test performance comes at the expense of learning. Art, music and physical education have withered, because, really, why bother if they’re not on the test?”

http://nyti.ms/1QaQSp0

Why So Many Schools Fail To Get Impact From iPad

“70% of UK schools are now using mobile devices in the classroom, according to Tablets for Schools. The vast majority of those devices are likely to be iPads, yet how many schools can you name who are standout users of the device? That is to say, how many schools are using the device to deliver true 21st century transformational lessons?

The answer, disappointingly, is very, very few.”

http://bit.ly/1o3vvt6

In Education “Reform” Nothing Means What You Think It Does

“I too want every student to succeed. I too want personalized learning, but I want those things for real, and not some cheap version of these promises that people stand to make a lot of money on. I think our kids are worth more than cute slogans and money making schemes they don’t actually benefit from. Perhaps it is the English teacher in me. I just want people to say what they mean.”

http://huff.to/1V6Pp1a

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Bridge Between Today’s Lesson and Tomorrow’s

“Carol Ann Tomlinson sees formative assessment as an ongoing exchange between a teacher and his or her students designed to help students grow as vigorously as possible and to help teachers contribute to that growth as fully as possible. ‘When I hear formative assessment reduced to a mechanism for raising end-of-year-test scores, it makes me fear that we might reduce teaching and learning to that same level’.”

http://bit.ly/1KeeMgZ

In DPS imaginarium, room to experiment for students and teachers

Creating conditions for teachers to be creative and then sharing successful ideas with other schools. Seems like a plan.

“Once an idea — which might be as small as a classroom strategy or as big as a new school design — is developed, the ‘imaginarium’ team runs through a series of piloting and reflection exercises. The team then presents a case to district leadership about whether that project should be scaled up.”

http://bit.ly/20ra8OH

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldie’ file:

Schools should embrace fun and activity.

In the early years of education children seem eager to learn; they are lively and happy. Generally, the classroom provides an atmosphere of spontaneity in which children are encouraged to explore, discover and create.However, large numbers of students leave school feeling bitter and defeated, not having mastered basic skills society demands from them.For teachers of unhappy children, the school experience is generally also an unhappy one.”

http://bit.ly/1O5g6Oa

Words of wisdom from Jerome Bruner

 ‘The areas of hunches and intuition’, Bruner writes, ‘has been all too often overwhelmed by an imposed fetish of objectivity’…’The lock step of learning theory in this country has been broken, though it is still the standard village dance’. Today we still have those ( usually politicians) who wish to test for learning ignoring, according to Bruner, that ‘it is difficult to catch and record, no less understand, the swift flight of man’s mind operating at its best.’ 

http://bit.ly/Vn6Str

What are the fundamentals in education

 “Ask most people what they would consider fundamental in education and they would probably say ‘the three Rs’ or, in,today’s, speak literacy and numeracy. Certainly this is the view of our current conservatist government. But , like most simplistic answers , if people give the question more thought, more enlightened answers come to mind. Learning to interpret and express ideas about ones experiences is the basis of all learning from the moment one is born. As in the illustration we all see and interpret our world.”

http://bit.ly/13b5vRO

Creative teachers are the key

Essential characteristics of creative teachers, according to one US researcher,are a commitment to: deepen the understandings of the world of each learner; believe in the creative ability of all students; encourage empathy in students; value creative expression in learners; teach in ways that facilitate it; adapt the curriculum to meet students individual needs.These are all in line with recent ideas of ‘personalising’ learning – developing with learners, and their parents, ‘individual learning plans.

http://bit.ly/1EUJFm2

The purpose of education – developing creativity and talents of all students.

“The dizzying speed of the modern world puts education at the heart of both personal and community development; its mission is to enable everyone, without exception, to develop all their talents to the full and to realize their creative potential, including responsibility for their own lives and achievement of their personal aims’.”

http://bit.ly/1XlUzrr

Transforming Secondary Education – the most difficult challenge of all.Thoughts from a past age – ‘Young Lives at Stake’ by Charity James

“Charity James believed it was important to get secondary education right if all students were to leave able to take advantage of the exciting opportunities the future might offer.  The challenge remains. Secondary schools need a radical reappraisal to ameliorate the effects of obvious social and cultural disadvantages and also to develop the needs, talents and gifts of all students.”

http://bit.ly/1k3YTMR

Born in 2014

The Treehorn Express

(Unable to be read in schools in Queensland, Australia)

Born in 2014

Children born this year will be my age at the end of this century*. I do hope that their teachers and principals [the real classroom curriculators] understand what will be going on in the years up to 3000 [and up to 2020, 2030, 2040….], so that we can help the children in a better way than we do now, during the schooling part of their preparation for the unknown. If teachers don’t understand how to prepare for the unknown, Australia and the rest of the world have a super-problem. School-and-child-oriented folk in authority will have think very seriously, very soon, about better ways to handle schooling….if the concept of schooling lasts much longer. The time to think is NOW – for serious reasons.

If, anyone in the general teaching fraternity in 2014 believes that politically controlled standardised blanket testing is, in any way, appropriate for the school children of the remainder of the 2000s, they should quit right now. Get out of the way. A test-based attitude is a serious menace to society.

If the future is unknown, shouldn’t we think about what we teach and how we do it? Isn’t this an important issue? Should Australian schools persist in teaching NAPLAN first and then other things from a left-over centrally-controlled, categorised curriculum list OR should we teach Learnacy wrapped around the things that the local and larger society require? Think about your own schooling.

I wish that I had been pupilled in Learnacy…how to handle learning. It’s an essential for all circumstances, for every bit of living….right through to old age….like 86.

I went to school to pass exams. There was no other purpose. The exams were paper and pencil type. If I didn’t write down what my teachers required of me on a piece of paper on one particular day of the year, I would not get a proper job. That was what life was about. I had to learn what to write down.

Things have changed. Children now go to school to learn how to tick the right bubble.

I had to learn things that I didn’t want to learn about; and some teachers were not too good at persuading me to show any enthusiasm; and their persuaders stung.

Things have changed. It’s more difficult to create the fear of failing; but caning the intellect instead of the hands creates more stress.

I had to pass exams in a limited number of subjects, whose relevance I did not understand.

Things have changed. Only NAPLAN in Australia; NCLB in the USA; ‘National Standards’ in NZ and UK are relevant…..says Gestapo head quarters.

Has anything else changed much in the world of learning? Don’t we still indulge in the hardening of the categories, as Weingartner called it….the way in which we compartmentalise knowledge. Art is not maths, and history is not music and language is not history; and maths and literature are important and art and music are unimportant? Years and years of Latin used to be important because everybody at ‘good’ schools should prepare for an Arts degree at a university in accord with some crazed linguist who had persuaded the intellectual body politic that Latin was an essential requirement for all human beings.

I hated it. Also, because I couldn’t see the intelligence behind crippling beautiful English sentences with Parsing and Complex Analysis, I hated Grammar and suffered great stress for the first hour after lunch every day. It was hell. Because I went to a non-state school, I did have not much experience with Art or Music [Choir, yes] or Dance or those categories that did not matter much at exam time. I know. The school’s reputation depended on the number of exam successes, not on how it taught children..

Aren’t you mystified by the way we organise schooling?

Sir Ken Robinson asks educators if they know what the world will look like in five years time. Listen to him for a few minutes.

Postman & Weingartner suggested, many years ago, that people at school should be issued with ‘crap detectors’. I hope that they are handed out at the door of all ‘conversations’ and Accord meetings, fast becoming the new way of entrenching the embedded.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

reputation

Naplan test today

First%20day%20at%20Kindy.[2]

Last%20Act%20of%20Defiance[2]

weigh elephant

*I have a g-grandchild to be born this year. I am truly concerned that, in five or more years’ time, the poor little bugger might go to a school that still ‘runs’ NAPLAN. I appreciate that the local neighbourhood school, the best kind of school, might still be forced by the government to use this learning-destructive device. It’s scary to think that what NAPLAN does to young children and the collateral damage that it does to every pupil at a school, will affect one of mine. Since private schools copy state schools, there’s nowhere to go. I’ll recommend home-learning if the malady is still around.

_________________________________________________
Phil Cullen […..looking for concerned adults with crap detectors] 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australian 2486 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Happy Days

Aussie Friends of Treehorn 

Read by adults who worry about impact of the NAPLAN-based Curriculum on their children’s development.

 

IMG%20(2)[2][2]

Enjoy the day, kids.

First%20day%20%20of%20school.[1]

 Shouldn’t this photo be the other way around? Children returning to the endless excitement and wonder and thrill of learning …of achieving…well….shouldn’t they?

 Best wishes to Year Ones. You will learn more and achieve more during your first two years of school than you will ever again.

 When you reach Year 3, however, you will be pressed into the games that adults play. At age 7 in early Year 3, you will start to be measured, tested, judged, compared according to some adults’ view of schooling. This will last for ten years.

 You will think, at times, that school is hell and that adults don’t want you to enjoy learning.

 They really don’t mean it. One day, they will grow up.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Government to introduce charter hospitals

Reposted from this brilliant NZ satirical website The Civilian.

This beautifully captures the ideological nonsense behind charter schools.

————–

These minimum wage surgeons may be unsure what to do next, but with enough private funding, the Government is confident they’ll figure it out.

These minimum wage surgeons may be unsure what to do next, but with enough private funding, the Government is confident they’ll figure it out.

The National Government has today announced plans to introduce a number of charter hospitals, similar to their charter school counterparts, in major population centres around the country.

The hospitals, which would be owned, operated or sponsored by private enterprises, would dissociate themselves from the current public health system and not be required to follow the regulations that most health institutes are beholden to.

Charter hospitals would not have to produce evidence to support the treatments they provide, would not have to hire qualified doctors, surgeons or nurses, and would be largely immune from public inquiries such as official information requests.

The announcement was made today at a press conference held by Health Minister Tony Ryall, who said that the new hospitals would provide a way for poor families and their children to get quality health care at a low cost.

“Over the next two years, the Ministry of Health will be working with private companies and community organisations to establish a modest number of partnership hospitals around the country,” said Ryall. “These hospitals will seek to provide services to those patients who the current system has left behind.”

“Because of the high safety standard we demand in our public affairs, public hospitals are forced to waste a great deal of money on conducting internal reviews, hiring qualified staff and cleaning surgical equipment. Partnership hospitals, on the other hand, will be free to take their own approach, providing kiwis with choice and lowering costs for thousands of families who have traditionally been unable to afford care.”

Ryall assured reporters that while regulations would not be as strict as they are for public hospitals, the Government would institute some kind of a minimum standard.

“Contrary to what the Opposition will tell you, we are not going to let hospitals run roughshod over the health system by allowing them to hire just anyone,” he said. “We would expect doctors to have a PhD in at least something.”

He added that charter hospitals would have to demonstrate that their surgeons had used scissors “at least twice,” and fully completed popular video game Surgeon Simulator 2013, “including the secret level in outer space.”

Additionally, those hospitals would be required to have a working fleet of ambulances, where an ambulance is defined as a vehicle with a minimum of two wheels, and at least one emergency room, where an emergency room is not defined.

If the implementation of charter hospitals is successful, Ryall says he’ll consider taking a similar approach with his ministry, which he’s “getting kind of sick of, anyway.”

Cross Party Resistance to Charter Schools

Reposted from Save Our Schools NZ

Introduction.

Yesterday (May 14th) the New Zealand Parliament debated the Education Amendment Bill that will allow for the establishment of charter schools. In this post, Dianne Khan provides an excellent overview of the debate and includes video links of the key speeches from opposition members of Parliament.

———–

Cross Party Resistance to Charter Schools

 

“Is this change good for education?”  

That’s the question Chris Hipkins tells us to ask ourselves of the proposed charter schools.  And after trawling through mountains of evidence over the past year, I have to say the answer is no.

Like Chris, I believe we should be focused on making sure every student in New Zealand can achieve their potential, in all schools.  We should be raising the bar, focusing on those not achieving their potential, and supporting all of our schools to innovate within and share good practice so that the whole system s brought up and improved further.

Charter schools are not the answer.  They are not about education.  They are not about improving our system.  They do not aim to make things better for all students – not even for all  Maori or Pasifika students.  They are not about collaboration and the sharing of best practice.

They are about privatising schools, pure and simple.

Chris points out that all evidence is clear that teacher quality is a huge factor in the success of a student, and yet this Bill lowers the bar rather than raising it.  Last year the government were saying all teachers needed a Masters Degree – now, apparently, a teacher can be anyone, with no training whatsoever.  Why the change?  It’s simple – the government will say anything to attack teachers, but suddenly change tack when it comes to “private, profit-making institutions”.

Chris’s speech in full is here and raises many issues with charter schools that people (including many teachers)  may not be aware of.  It’s really worth watching.

Catherine Delahunty put it bluntly but correctly, yesterday, when she said “this Bill is ridiculous and it is also quite sick”, going on to point out that it allows for children to be used in an experiment that evidence shows to work very poorly for minority groups.

Catherine pointed out the obvious that when parents in poor families are working very long hours to bring in a pitiful wage, there isn’t a whole lot of time left to help with a child’s education.  Little time to give a hand with homework.  Not much spare to buy computers so kids can work at home.  Nothing left for school donations.

Poverty is a key factor in poor education achievement, as recognised by the OECD, and yet nothing has been done to address that important issue.  While families are facing inequality on the level New Zealand sees, there will always be inequality in education, too.

Why does government not tackle poverty? … Maybe because it doesn’t make businesses any money?

What this Bill is really about is privatisation for the benefit of businesses and corporates, some of whom are not even Maori, Pasifika or Kiwi.  If it were about helping all kids succeed, then ALL schools would be given the same freedoms.

Metiria Turei challenged National and ACT politicians to send their children to a charter school.

They probably would, to be honest.  Not yet, but in the long run.  Because once the pretence of charters being for the poor kids, the brown kids, the lower achieving kids,  is over, the truth is we will see charters appearing for wealthy kids, essentially providing publicly-funded private schools with no accountability.

Be very clear: This is not about the ‘long tail of underachievement’- it is a sneaky and underhand way of bringing in private schools that public money pays for, and in the end those schools will be for wealthy kids.

Tracey Martin gave an outstanding speech, too, outlining why this Bill makes a mockery of the submissions process and democracy  Many on the panel choose to ignore expert and popular opinion, instead listening with deaf ears and closed minds, following an ideology that they were predetermined to accept no matter what.

This is New Zealand under this government – they forge ahead in favour of only themselves and businesses.

Tracey pointed out that Maoridom is not in favour of charter schools.  Submissions from Maori were overwhelmingly against.

She pleads and I plead with Maori and Pasifika people to contact their MPs and tell them how you feel.

Even if you do want charters, make sure you tell them what boundaries you expect, what support, what oversight.

If you do not want them, speak up now, because time is running out, and the Maori Party is about to sell you down the river.

Sue Moroney hit the nail on the head when she said “Our kids are being used as guinea pigs,” saying that it wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t already know from the evidence that charter schools do not work.  She asked why the select committee ignored the concerns of Nga Tahu, who do not want charter schools.  She asked why the children of Christchurch are being used in this experiment when they are already in the middle of upheaval and stress.

Why indeed.

Nanaia Mahuta acknowledged the thousands of parents, teachers and others who took the time to make submissions to the select committee.

With over 2000 submissions, just over 70 were for charters, about 30 had no opinion, and the rest were against.  Just read that again:  The Rest Were Against.  And those against came from all quarters, from professors and parents, from teachers and students, and from iwi.

Hone Harawira, Leader of MANA, said charters ”represent a direct attack on kura kaupapa Māori, and on public education generally,” pointing out that  ”successive governments have starved kura kaupapa of funding from the get-go, [yet] they remain one of the most successful educational initiatives for Maori by Māori, in the last 100 years.”   Like many observers, he is aghast at the Maori Party for supporting charter school proposals, saying “The Maori Party should be ashamed for turning their backs on everything that kura kaupapa Maori stands for.”  Source.

So let me close by asking you this.

Who does support charter schools?  And why?

Ask yourself that, and really think about it.  Not on political party lines, but as a Kiwi.

Ask yourself what the motivation for charter schools really is.

Ask “Is this change good for education?”  

~Dianne Khan

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Educational Readings April 19th.

 By Allan Alach

 New Zealand teachers and children have now completed the end of term one and now have two weeks break until next term. I stopped referring to these breaks as school holidays a number of years ago, as this conveys the wrong impression to people who are ignorant of the demands of teaching. Instead this break consists of a week or so for teachers to recover and recharge (this can be viewed as sick leave), while in the second week teachers’s thoughts turn to preparation for the coming term.  Not much of a ‘holiday,’ is it?

This week’s articles are a collection of odds and ends!

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

 This week’s homework!

 

 The myth of learning styles

Prepare to be challenged….

http://bit.ly/XxjWd7

 Charter schools are not about charter schools

This article by Kelvin Smythe is a superb appraisal of the charter school agenda in New Zealand, and which can easily be adapted to describe similar movements in other countries.

http://www.networkonnet.co.nz/index.php?section=latest&id=406

 Thanks to Bruce Hammonds for the following links.

 Banned TED Talk: Nick Hanauer “Rich people don’t create jobs” 

Worth watching for the first time, second time, third time ….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKCvf8E7V1g

 Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

“When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.”

I suggest this applies equally well to teachers! What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXsLtHqfdM

 Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning.

‘A rise in test scores leads most people to believe good things are happening in their schools. Not unreasonably, politicians and parents alike infer that students have learned more when test scores go up. But since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law was passed that inference may be unwarranted. Sadly, there are numerous reasons why rising test scores may not be related to increases in student learning.’

http://wapo.st/13lxA3P

 A Dog in the Barn: Parallels in Teaching and Parenting

Reflect on this.

http://bit.ly/14AB4UY

Moral behavior in animals

Now for something completely different….

http://bit.ly/Zw2N4q

Charter schools are not about charter schools

By Kelvin Smythe

Reposted from Networkonnet.

The education situation is dire, western economies are struggling, with one of its manifestations being the rich and powerful acting to undermine public schools. Charter schools not being about charter schools is emblematic of that dire situation.

Let us look at how this is playing out in New Zealand. Throughout our history our overriding economic plan has been to hang on to the coat tails of first England, then America, now China. We were only truly comparatively wealthy in the Korean War period when the price of wool sky rocketed. The present government is now taking the coat-tail policy to extreme: selling farm land, allowing foreign manufacturing of farm produce, emphasising tourism (with its low pay characteristics), mining exploitation, asset sales, and signing sycophantic free trade policies. Apparently we can raise capital for property speculation but not for industry.

No matter the slightly more benign period at the moment, our prospects are that we are going to face severe unemployment, reaching deep into the middle class – so where will that leave applicants from less privileged environments? And the jobs there are will be largely low paid. Genuine social, economic, and political change is required but the response by the rich and powerful to avoid this has been to scapegoat.

This  (New Zealand) government, headed as it is by a financial player, is a do-nothing government in the sense of industry and making things (and stuff). Making things is disappearing; making things is not valued. Because of ideology, how to put ourselves in position to make things is beyond this government. The only way New Zealand can put itself in position to make things is by substantial government involvement, but this government resiles from government involvement in capital raising for industry. It is in making things, in developing our research, in using the education skills of New Zealanders, in using the acknowledged imagination of its people to make things of high value, that widespread and worthwhile employment can be established.

The rich and powerful in western countries have resorted to scapegoating and distraction to protect their position. One of the ways education is being set up as a scapegoat is promoting education as the key to prosperity. This is a false argument: when a country has reached a certain level of education achievement, there can be found no substantial connection between education achievement and economic success, indeed, the argument for education as a private good gains some credence here (though education leading to good life decisions surely contributes to the public good). By linking economic success to education achievement when there is little or no link, makes education the perfect scapegoat for successive economic failures as they occur. This has three considerable consequences: first, the true path to economic success is not recognised and followed and, second, a platform from which to devastate public education is formed and, third, the vacuum left by the destruction of public education, provides an opening for the institutions of the rich and wealthy to place themselves in a position of social control over the young.

Economic success in Western countries depends on the economic decisions not on education.

(Education, though, as a human right so that individuals can compete more fairly with others for employment and for a satisfying life in other respects is, of course, undeniable.)

Connected to the promotion of education as the key to prosperity is the idea that poverty has little effect on education achievement. This is, of course, preposterous, akin to believing in the literal Adam and Eve. The rich and powerful, in the face of an obscene widening of inequality, have promoted education, virtually on its own, as the way to reduce inequality. Those from economically deprived environments have little chance of competing with middle-class children in genuine education achievement. If the link between poverty and reduced education achievement was accepted by a society it would lead to attention being given to housing, health, and income, as well as education. In education we know how to lift the achievement of children from poverty environments. We understand the need for providing compensatory environments, for instance, a stable, loving context, intensive individual attention, sensitivity to cultural aspects, school meals, allowing time for basic concepts to develop so learning can proceed on the basis of understanding, reducing harsh testing procedures to ensure a safe environment, and not seeing flexible thinking as mutually exclusive from the 3Rs.

A central way the rich and powerful have promoted the idea that poverty has little effect on education is to change and redefine it. Education has been reduced to a narrow version of reading, writing, and mathematics by focusing on the measurable and the immediately observable. This measurable and immediately observable is atomised to allow commodification and factory-style industrial ways to transmit and test it. Such learning results in a second-rate education because true education, true that is to success in higher education, high value jobs, and making successful life decisions, is about flexible thinking. The middle-class bring a cultural capital to education that children from straitened circumstances can rarely approach unless special compensatory education is put in place. But special compensatory education is not put in place because that would cost money. The rich and powerful are only interested in ‘helping’ poor children if it doesn’t cost any money, indeed, reduces costs overall by dismantling public education systems, and avoids any social, economic, and political change detrimental to their position.

So what we find is that children from poor families are being organised into schools that produce ersatz education results in an attempt to embarrass public schools. In charter schools, children will be drilled in the 3Rs at the expense of flexible thinking, meaning, and sustainable learning, and with long-term detrimental learning consequences. To introduce just two classroom learning points: true reading is about reading for meaning, so for children’s reading to develop truly, a rich variety of concepts needs to be part of children’s thinking; and drilling a narrow version of mathematics leaves children unprepared for more abstract mathematics later. Drilled education is a second-rate education, recalling Maori children doing 1900s gardening duties. But all this by-the by, it is the consequences of bringing public schools into disrepute that is the point of the charter schools.

So what we are finding, and will find, is a range of mainly small charter schools or small schools of other sorts, that produce in secret a series of impressive ‘results’, an outcome of drilling, a form of ‘coaching’ close to cheating, and test inflation. (This behaviour will extend to, indeed will be a feature of, small secondary schools.) These schools, because they are small and structured in certain ways, will not be representative of the school population, and will never have significant numbers of decile 1 children.

But there is a further ominous way the rich and powerful are protecting their wealth and power, they are entrenching international corporations at the heart of education systems. The commodification, reductionism, and standardisation of education allows national corporations to produce curriculum content, tests, products and consultancies across borders heedless of cultural differences. This has the effect of promoting the ideas and values of the rich and powerful through school systems. Decisions alien to our way of life are being made by covert groups far removed from schools and communities. Education organisation, as a result, is being turned into a form of corporate authoritarianism with sinister implications for classrooms and democracy.

It might be fitting to go over some of the points I made in an interview on charter schools for Campbell Live (a current affairs programme) to be broadcast later this week.

I was asked for my definition of charter schools. I said it was an idea – an idea promoted by the rich and powerful to avoid genuine social, economic, and political change.

I said charter schools were an idea developed in relative secrecy and introduced in a way deeply damaging to the fabric of democracy.

Charter schools are organised so that what happens in them is hidden: it looks as though the education review office has review responsibilities, but it doesn’t; parents are kept well away; the ministry has no real oversight; and corporate-type ‘public relations’ people will deny, hide, and lie.

John Key’s  (Prime Minister) charge in the 23 November  2011 debate with Phil Goff  (then Labour Party leader) that public schools were letting New Zealand down was a signal that it was going to be a free-for-all on public teachers and schools.

I said, charter schools will never be a system, they are not designed to be a system, they are designed to be a platform to discredit public schools so that more people will buy into private schools; charter schools are about privatising education; charter schools are about frightening children into private schools, transferring the cost of education to parents. Charter schools are about more privileged children going into private schools and less privileged children being congregated into public schools – schools that will be poorly funded and derided. Most of these children will be Maori and Pasifika children which should give pause to some Maori and Pasifika leaders but probably won’t.

Not mentioned in the interview, but relevant to this argument is the way John Key is promoting private schools by making huge increases to their funding: for example, the prime minister’s school of choice for his son,

Kings College, received government subsidies increased by 40% from 2009 to 20011 – that is from$1,663, 585 to $2,325,587. There is no extra money for the so-called one-in-five at the lower end – only national standards which harms these children and bully-boy attacks on their teachers – but there are huge increases in amounts being shovelled out for the one-in-twenty-five at the higher end, and implied approbation of their teachers. (Statistical information from John Minto, QPEC.)

That is why during the interview I called the prime minister a ‘slimeball’ or something like that (I’m finding it difficult recall exactly what I said at that moment of inspiration.) I hope they retain it in the interview.

I said, I was not mainly interested in what went on in New Zealand charter schools: yes – they will use reactionary teaching policies and hectoring control practices, but what happens will not be as weird as occurs in American charter school; my main interest will be on the outside effects of charter schools, that is, the use as of charter schools as a platform to scapegoat public schools and to introduce international corporations into central education decision making.

Education is becoming sleight of hand, distraction from one hand for a trick to be pulled in the other, all to the benefit of the rich and powerful. The call for one-in-five is not about doing something constructive for the one, it is about all five being taught the narrow 3Rs (a long-term conservative aim). ‘Achievement’ is not about genuine education achievement but narrow achievement for the unreflective. National standards are not for identifying children who are struggling (in fact, they are of considerable harm to them) but to commodify education to allow national corporations to take control. ‘Quality data’ is just the reverse, it is data made rubbish by tests being tampered with and high stakes’ contexts.

As for the spread of unemployment to the middle class; well, when Maori and Pasifika children line up with their NZCEA level 2 (secondary school qualification), middle-class children (Maori, Pasifika, and European) will get the few jobs available and the rest will be left with their certificates and their poverty. The point I am making is that charter schools are designed to distract and divide. Samoan and Maori (and some European) leaders to justify their taking of money for charter schools and accruing the status involved will berate public education as failing Maori and Pasifika children when, in fact, underfunded and against the odds public schools have done wonderfully well. As was intended, the position of the rich and powerful will be strengthened by this. Charter schools, as stated above, have been introduced to avoid genuine social, economic, and political change so the proper response by those genuinely concerned with reducing inequality is not to support authoritarian education policies that will strengthen the status quo but to politicise those affected by inequality to agitate for the necessary changes. Margaret Thatcher was the first western politician to realise that ignoring and penalising the poor actually provided an opportunity to increase inequality to be electorally popular as well.

The question that is charter schools does not lie in education but in preserving and advancing the position of the rich and powerful; neither does the answer, that lies in consciousness-raising and politicisation of the poor: which is why charters schools are not about charter schools.

Educational Readings March 15th

Educational Readings

By Allan Alach

A personal note:

Last week I wrote an article for http://thedailyblog.co.nz about the privatisation of New Zealand education. Things are moving rapidly, generally below the radar. The link takes you to a repost on Bruce Hammonds’ Leading and Learning blog.

http://bit.ly/16vKtv6

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

Amplify – it’s powerful, it’s also dangerous.

I introduced Amplify in the introduction to last week’s readings. Here’s another opinion piece by Pat Buoncristiani discussing this in more depth.

‘So here is my first fear – that learning becomes mediated through the tablet rather than through the teacher, that learning ceases being a shared human activity and becomes an interaction between a screen and a student.’

http://bit.ly/Yi0rkP

6 Common Misunderstandings About Assessment Of Learning

“Educated’ educators will know all about these. Sadly too many principals and teachers are ignorant. This article will help you educate them, as well as non-educators.

http://bit.ly/12DX5RL

Free school head without any teaching qualifications plans to ignore curriculum

Profession is being ‘deskilled’ say unions as figures show 10% of teachers in new sector are unqualified.’

Welcome to charter schooling. What was that about ‘raising achievement’?

http://bit.ly/12E2qIL

Standardized tests are killing our students’ creativity, desire to learn

An excellent article from the Denver Post:

“Students’ abilities can be evaluated in many, creative ways. The idea that every student take the same test at the same time is nothing more than the warmed-over factory model of education used in the 1950s, now laughingly called “education reform.”

As Oscar Wilde has observed, “Conformity is the last refuge of the unimaginative.’ “

http://bit.ly/WfALbT

Should school children be treated as battery hens or free range chickens?

A podcast that explores this issue.

http://bit.ly/WjBKIj

Where are We Going and Why?

By Andy Hargreaves and Pasi Sahlberg.

Good stuff, as you’d expect. Sadly GERM minded politicians are congenitally unable to read this kind of material.

http://bit.ly/ZLIAVH

Getting rich off schoolchildren

‘Stop pretending wealthy CEOs pushing for charter schools are altruistic “reformers.” They’re raking in billions.’

And..

‘Education results, however, don’t matter to the moneyed interests behind the “reform” movement. Profits do — and the potential profits are enormous.’

http://bit.ly/W44WnJ