Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education: Chapter Six

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Chapter 6

Of Standards and Measurement

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence. Henri Frederic Amiel

How can anyone be against having standards in the classroom, standards for behavior or learning?  Kind of hard to argue against, eh!  What is so wrong with holding students accountable to educational standards?  Nothing!  Except when the term standard is inappropriately and incorrectly used to mean one thing while purporting to signify another, in other words lacking fidelity to truth.

Surely we need to and must measure student achievement.  How are we going to know how the student stands up to the standard?  How are we to know how the students in one class, district or state do in comparison to other classes, districts or states if we don’t measure student achievement?

The silence is deafening in regard to the lack of logical thought and the abuse of the language that permeates educational discourse in the standards and measurement movement.  The standards and measurement meme in public education has been a part of policies and practices for at least the last quarter of a century.  Even before NCLB, state departments of education were making and disseminating “standards” as guides for classroom curriculum.  And the emphasis was being guides and not some supposed “standard” against which educational outcomes could be supposedly “measured” for not only the student but teacher, school and district.  It wasn’t until the passage of NCLB in 2001 that the standards and measurement meme has come to completely dominate not only school life but the policy and practice arenas from the legislatures to state departments of educations to district boards and into the schools.

The standards and measurement movement is choking the life out of our public school classrooms!

It is causing innumerable harms to students, distorting curriculum and the teaching and learning process, many times into a year-long test prep program, causing districts to drop many electives, foreign languages, band, choir, and many others not related to the two main tested subjects English and Math.  Not only that but in the elementary level many students are now deprived of much needed recess/play time, gone are learning stations in favor of drill and kill methods of attempting to raise test scores.  Ever increasing test scores have become the predominant driver of curriculum since NCLB was signed into law.

In order to untangle this mess of educational malpractices that standards and measurement discourse has brought about we first need to examine exactly what are standards and measurements in a broader logical context which then will enable us to ascertain just how damaging the misuse of language, the twisted use of logic that makes the standards and measurement movement appear to be THE way to improve the teaching and learning processes in American public schools.  It will then be shown that using the false and error filled practices of educational standards and standardized testing contravene the fundamental purpose of public education causing, at times, irrevocable harm to the student in not guaranteeing “to promote the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry.

The word standard is in the top 1000 most used words in American English and the Miriam Webster online dictionary gives the following definitions:

Standard

1:  a conspicuous object (as in a banner) formerly carried at the top of a pole and used to mark a rallying point especially in battle or to serve as an emblem

2a:  a long narrow tapering flag that is personal to an individual or corporation and bears heraldic devices  b:  the personal flag of the head of state or of a member of a royal family  c:  an organization flag carried by a mounted or motorized military unit  d:  banner

3:  something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example:  criterion <quite slow by today’s standards>

4:  something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of a quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality

5a:  the fineness and legally fixed weight of the metal used in coins  b:  the basis of value in a monetary system <the gold standard>

6:  a structure built for or serving as a base of support

7a:  a shrub or herb grown with an erect main stem so that it forms or resembles a tree  b:  a fruit tree grafted on the stock that does not induce dwarfing

8a:  the large odd upper petal of a papilionaceous flower (as of the pea)  b.  one of the three inner usually erect and incurved petals of an iris

9:  a musical composition (as a song) that has become a part of the standard repertoire

For the purposes of this discussion, obviously definitions 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 do not concern us.  It is the somewhat similar and perhaps inter-confusing definitions of 3 and 4 that interest us.

As mentioned above before NCLB the definition of standard as used in the individual state’s curriculum standards and even today in curriculum standards promulgated and promoted by subject area organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics or the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages the term standard as used fell/falls under definition three as they were never meant to be used as “a rule for the measure of a quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality” as in definition four but as a model for teachers to use.  Confusing indeed!

Another way to look at the concept of standards is that there are two accepted types of standards, metrological and documentary.

Metrology is the science of measurement and a metrological standard “is an object, system, or experiment that bears a defined relationship to a unit of measurement of a physical quantity.  Standards are the fundamental reference for a system of weights and measures, against which all other measuring devices are compared. Measurements are defined in relationship to internationally-standardized reference objects, which are used under carefully controlled laboratory conditions to define the units of length, mass, electrical potential, and other physical quantities.

A documentary standard “is a document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

Many governmental departments promulgate documentary standards, for example the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) while at the same time being the certifying agent to ensure that the standards are followed.  The ISO promulgates international standards but is not the certifying agency, other agencies do the certifying of companies compliance with their standards.  From the EPA:

“When developing regulations, the first thing we do is ask if a regulation is needed at all. Every regulation is developed under slightly different circumstances but this is the general process: 

Step 1: EPA Proposes a Regulation 

The agency researches the issues and, if necessary, proposes a regulation, also known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The proposal is listed in the Federal Register (FR) so that members of the public can consider it and send their comments to us. The proposed rule and supporting documents are also filed in EPA’s official docket on Regulations.gov 

Step 2: EPA Considers Your Comments and Issues a Final Rule 

Generally, once we consider the comments received when the proposed regulation was issued, we revise the regulations accordingly and issue a final rule. This final rule is also published in the FR and in EPA’s official docket on Regulations.gov. 

Step 3: The Regulation is Codified in the Code of Federal Regulations 

Once a regulation is completed and has been printed in the FR as a final rule, it is codified when it is added to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR is the official record of all regulations created by the federal government. . . . ” 

The ISO has strict rules for making and issuing standards.  The key principles in standard(s) development:

1.  ISO standards respond to a need in the market.

ISO does not decide when to develop a new standard, but responds to a request from industry or other stakeholders such as consumer groups. Typically, an industry sector or group communicates the need for a standard to its national member who then contacts ISO.

2. ISO standards are based on global expert opinion.

ISO standards are developed by groups of experts from all over the world that are part of larger groups called technical committees. These experts negotiate all aspects of the standard, including its scope, key definitions and content.

3. ISO standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process.

The technical committees are made up of experts from the relevant industry, but also from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and government.

4. ISO standards are based on a consensus

Developing ISO standards is a consensus-based approach and comments from all stakeholders are taken into account.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and all other state educational standards might be considered a documentary standard but in the development of the standards no procedures have followed the formal protocol and processes as outlined by the OSI or government agencies in their development.

In addition to that and perhaps even worse is that the proponents of these standards claim that the CCSS are standards against which ‘student achievement’ can be measured.  In doing so educational standards proponents claim the documentary standard (definition three) as a metrological standard (definition four).  In doing so they are falsely claiming a meaning of standard that should not be given credence.

This confusion is compounded by what it means to measure something and the similar misuse of the meaning of the word measure by the proponents of the standards and testing regime.  Assessment and evaluation perhaps can be used interchangeably but assessment and evaluation are not the same as measurement.  Word usage matters!

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of measure includes the following:

1a (1):  an adequate or due portion (2):  a moderate degree; also: moderation, temperance (3):  A fixed or suitable limit:  bounds <rich beyond measure> b:  the dimensions, capacity or amount of something ascertained by measuring c:  an estimate of whit is to be expected (as of a person or situation d: (1):  a measured quantity (2):  amount, degree

2a:  an instrument or utensil for measuring b (1):  a standard or unit of measurement—see weight table (2):  A system of standard units of measure <metric measure>

3:  the act or process of measuring

4a (1):  melody, tune (2):  dance; especially:  a slow and stately dance  b:  rhythmic structure or movement: cadence:  as (1):  poetic rhythm measured by temporal quantity or accent; specifically:  meter (2):  musical time c (1):  a grouping of a specified number of musical beats located between two consecutive vertical lines on a staff (2):  a metrical unit:  foot

5: an exact divisor of a number

6:  a basis or standard of comparison <wealth is not a measure of happiness

7:  a step planned or taken as a means to an end; specifically:  a proposed legislative act

Measure as commonly used in educational standard and measurement discourse comes under definitions 1d, 2, and 3, the rest not being pertinent other than to be used as an obfuscating meaning to cover for the fact that, indeed, there is no true measuring against a standard whatsoever in the educational standards and standardized testing regimes and even in the grading of students.  What we are left with in this bastardization of the English language is a bewildering befuddle of confusion that can only serve to deceive many into buying into intellectually bankrupt schemes that invalidly sort, rate and rank students resulting in blatant discrimination with some students rewarded and others punished by various means such as denying opportunities to advance, to not being able to take courses or enroll in desired programs of study.

The most misleading concept/term in education is “measuring student achievement” or “measuring student learning”.  The concept has been misleading educators into deluding themselves and others that the teaching and learning process can be analyzed/assessed using “scientific” methods which are actually pseudo-scientific at best and at worst a complete bastardization of rationo-logical thinking and language usage.

There never has been and never will be any “measuring” of the teaching and learning process and what each individual student learns in their schooling.  There is and always has been assessing, evaluating, judging of what students learn but never a true “measuring” of it.

The TESTS MEASURE NOTHING, quite literally when you realize what is actually happening with them. Richard Phelps, a staunch standardized test proponent (he has written at least two books defending the standardized testing malpractices) in the introduction to “Correcting Fallacies About Educational and Psychological Testing” unwittingly lets the cat out of the bag with this statement:

Physical tests, such as those conducted by engineers, can be standardized, of course, but in this volume, we focus on the measurement of latent (i.e., nonobservable) mental, and not physical, traits.

Notice how he is trying to assert by proximity that educational standardized testing and the testing done by engineers are basically the same, in other words a “truly scientific endeavor”.  The same by proximity is not a good rhetorical/debating technique.

Since there is no agreement on a standard unit of learning, there is no exemplar of that standard unit and there is no measuring device calibrated against said non-existent standard unit, how is it possible to “measure the nonobservable”?

PURE LOGICAL INSANITY!

Finally, what the proponents of the educational standards and standardized testing regime don’t appear to understand is that in many areas of human interactions and feelings there cannot be any measurement.  How does one measure the love of one’s spouse, children, parents or friends?  How does one measure what is going on in the heart and mind of a distressed person who has just lost a loved one?  Why do we even begin to think that we can measure what goes on in the body and brain of the student who is learning any subject matter considering all the various hormonal and endocrinal influences occurring outside the individual’s control, with the hundreds of millions if not billions of neuronal firings going on at any given moment that partially influence what happens in the mind of the student in a teaching and learning situation?  How do we believe that the thousands and thousands of environmental influences on each individual could begin to be measured and accounted for?  Are proponents of the educational standards and standardized testing “measurement” regime that arrogant, hubristic and presumptuous to believe that they hold the key to supposedly measuring the teaching and learning process or more specifically, the learning, aka, student achievement, of an individual student?

Considering the facts of the misuse of language, logic and common sense as outlined above, the only wise course of action is to immediately cease and desist, to abandon, those malpractices that harm so many students and contravene the state’s responsibility in providing a public education for all students.  The billions of dollars spent by states on the educational standards and standardize testing regime would then be freed up to provide a better education for all students through perhaps such things as smaller class sizes, needed social services, foreign language instruction, arts programs, etc.  And the state, by approving and mandating the fake standards and false measuring of student learning that are the malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing, by not adhering to a regimen of fidelity to truth is surely guilty of not promoting “the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry.


  1.  I purposely used “do” and not “are learning” as the teaching and learning process is not amenable to simplistic comparisons.
  2.  Yes, play time.  The research on the importance of play time for elementary (K-8) students in social and academic development is overwhelming.
  3.  And that dominance was greatly enlarged by the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” federal mandates in 2009.  What a bizarrely craven way to attempt to improve the teaching and learning process, by having states compete for monies only if they enacted certain unethical malpractices such as using standardized testing not only for sorting and ranking students but also evaluating teachers and schools districts.
  4.  From the Oxford Online Dictionary, see: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/top1000/american_english
  5.  See:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/standard
  6.  See:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_(metrology)#cite_note-1
  7.  From the National Institute for Standards and Technology
  8.  ISO is the French acronym used in describing standards.  In English the ISO means the International Organization for Standardization.
  9.  From the EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/basics-regulatory-process
  10.  See:  http://www.iso.org/iso/home/standards_development.htm
  11.  The scope of this study does not include a discussion of the nefarious process by which the CCSS were made and forced upon the states through what might easily be considered monetary extortion by the Federal Department of Education.
  12.  Now whether that claim, a documentary standard as a metrological one, is intentionally misleading or not I leave up to the reader.  Personally I don’t believe they have the knowledge to understand the difference.  And while that attempt may be well intentioned we know that “The road to hell. . . . “
  13.  See:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/measure
  14.  The suggestions only begin to scratch the surface of what might be done and which must be determined by each public school community.
  15.  The false and misleading language embedded in these practices surely must qualify them for the designation of malpractice.

 

Treehorn: Does NAPLAN work?

Treehorn Message.

When NAPLAN was introduced in 2008, Julia Gillard seemed ecstatic with anticipated higher results on PISA international tests by Australian school children. Her enthusiasm knew no bounds. State governments were ‘persuaded’ to join in the surge to exceptional improvement, Principal Associations were captured, media comment controlled and ACARA established at a cost of millions and millions. After all, Joel Klein knew what he was doing. She did so well in persuasion tactics, that, to the present day, nobody dares question its operations. It keeps on and on and on, ruining the academic and creative dreams of millions of kids. Some of don’t like it and question the motives of those who allow it to continue.

Officialese says:-

“NAPLAN was introduced in 2008. ACARA has managed the tests from 2010 onwards.[2] The tests are designed to determine if Australian students are achieving outcomes.[2] There has been a great deal of contention in the educational community as to whether the tests are appropriate, whether teachers are teaching as they normally would or teaching to the test, and what the results of the test are being used for. The data obtained from the NAPLAN tests are collated and used to show all schools’ average performance against other schools in the country on the Government My School website.[3]

The tests are also designed to be carried out on the same days all across Australia in any given year. Parents are able to decide whether their children take the test or not.[4] The vast majority of Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students participate.[5]”  [Source: Google ;NAPLAN]

ACARA tells us….

‘NAPLAN, which is a part of the National Assessment Program (NAP), is how governments, education authorities and schools can determine whether young Australians are reaching important educational goals.’  {See ‘ACARA’

This question was posed by Treehorn recently and Bill Brown respected teacher, counsellor, commentator answered……
It’s been ten years now, so the question has to be asked……Is NAPLAN doing what it is supposed to do?

Bill Brown, noted teacher, consultant, commentator responds……

MY ANSWER   A resounding YES!!!  If you believe in standards based reform ‘-I  don’t and nor does Andy Hargreaves

Standardized educational reform is as valuable for a vigorous knowledge economy and a strong civil society as locusts are for a cornfield

  December 2002  Teaching in the Knowledge Society Professor Andy Hargreaves

BUT

further strategic questions may be Who contributes to this ” success”?

Specifically, self-expression values promote liberal political institutions through two mechanisms.

First, to the extent that there is incongruence between cultural ‘demand’ for liberal institutions and political ‘supply’ of liberal institutions, individuals are more or less prone to elite-challenging activity.

The consequences and form of elite challenging activity (i.e., both violent and non-violent) has been discussed at length in the literature (c.f., Gurr 1970; Eckstein & Gurr 1975

  • The silent majority “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” – Dante Alighieri.

AND

Who benefits ? NOT KIDS

I’m about halfway through mapping all of the so called “representatives” that sit on The education council  etc below So far 91 members with some with multiple connections representing 53 institutions  ( not many qld but a lot of VICks ( a cure for the virus  ???”?

Messy as all get out without any measures of connectivity that I will apply to get to the ” core connectors ” in this “coalition of the willing ”

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Will you answer? Trying

Should we do something about it? Hell yes

I am putting forward a proposal to the newly formed  Council of Parents Families Carers and will see what happens 

Kind regards 

Bill Brown 

Datafication

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY SERIOUS TOPIC.  IGNORE ITS INTENTIONS AT OUR NATION’S PERIL; AND THEN PRAY FOR ITS KIDS.

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

DATAFICATION

It’s here. It’s the end of schooling as an interpersonal teacher-pupil interactive learning enterprise.
During this century there has been a distinct movement in schooling from Education to Testucation to Datafication.

To the everlasting credit of a remarkable work force, Australiam teachers have maintained an amazing standard of pupilling excellence, of which, despite the debilitating interruptions by blanket testing, Australians can be proud. The future of schooling will be much tougher for pupils, teachers and parents, however, if we continue on our present course.

DATAFICATION

IT’S SERIOUS. “What it simply means is this: from our actions to our thoughts, everything is getting transformed into a numerically transformed format or ‘Data’….from sports to finance and from entertainment to healthcare, everything around us is converting into data.” [Sawinder Kaur]. Get used to it.

“Datafication refers to the collective tools, technologies and processes used to transfer an organisation to a data-driven enterprise. This buzzword describes an organisational trend of defining the key to core business operations through a reliance on data and its related infrastructure.”[Technopedia]

“Datafication is the method behind the madness of Big Data.”  [Mark Sylvestor]

It’s a later day technological trend that involves the collection of data and transforming the information into new forms of value. It’s the sort of thing that Rupert has dreamed of for years.  Seen to be of benefit for core business operations, it has invaded schooling systems to destroy the vigorous spirit of established institutionalised learning and to turn its citadels into business operations and testing factories in which a gullible public will spend big money to enrol their children. The recent rise in the standard of marketing and lobbying  skills will ensure this.   Datification has been able to take over from the testucation processes attached to NAPLAN because our testing industry had difficulty in understanding the consequences of certain unwelcome schooling behaviours that were introduced rudely into Australia in 2008; and this makes things easier for schools to become digitised and datafied testing factories.  It’s more than just using laptops at school for learning purposes. It’s a debauched use of technology merely to supply data to measurers for judgmental causes and maladjusted, political control.

Data collection is driving our schools….now….and the intensity is about to increase.  The shape and infrastructure of schooling and our attitude to it have changed. We need to stop the nonsense and talk. Testucation and datafication are draining the humanity of learning from our schools.

If we want this trend to continue, we should do nothing.  We are used to doing nothing. Ignoring the plight of school children is a major Australian cultural meme.  “She’ll be right, Jack.”  We allowed managerialism to take over from experienced-based organisational designs in the 1980s, then ignored the change to testucation in 2008, now to datafication.  Are you happy with the trend? Within the school setting, it meant changing from challenging styles of maieutic pupilling to didactic chalk-talk test practice, practice, practice that pupils usually detest. It has produced mediocre results in national and international tests as expected and should continue to do so.  It’s the pupils who decide how well they will do on tests, for goodness sake. How do we treat them in a productive, learning sense?

This may not have been  the Gillard-Klein intention when they introduced fear and obsession with test scores to supplant pupilled love of learning in 2008, but it happened.  They certainly set out to be data-centric, nasty and tough, but I should think that they did not intend things to go so far. They thought that they were just testing what had been taught, as we all used to do in our schools. It all went pear-shaped and the kids are now doing worse than ever before  at basic operations, because of the tests themselves…. but the modus operandi of using NAPLAN to gather data has been maintained!  […and it’s the bogey that contains the seeds of lowering standards! It actually causes the slump!] This has suited the datafying hawks, however,  who are presently taking over  from both kleinish testucators and former educators, ‘…using rapid speed and amazing tools to store, manipulate and analyse  information”,  for other-than-schooling purposes. Almost the whole population will, in the future,  be data-nailed as soon as they enter school and be branded through  datafying routines now being used by industry.  Schooling is not what it used to be; and we should fear for the kids at the chalk-face of the 21st century.   With creativity, problem solving, thinking, decision making, zest, acceptance  of challenges and pupilling,  all removed from the school scene, the kids don’t have much chance to enjoy a happy, challenging, creative, healthy life full of satisfying achievements as they could have expected from basic pupilling conditions at a humanity-based learning school.

Eagerly supported by the big corporate boys, the testucrats have set no limits to the expenditure of tax-payers’ money on new organisational arrangements.  If someone had said to you, some years ago, that education departments in Australia would, one day, spend $A24.7million dollars for computerised tablets, just to do a few tests of basic standards over a one-hit three-day period, because it’s quicker than using paper and pencil…..what would the electorate have said?   OUT!

Just to score tests faster !!!!   You can also be sure that much more than that will be spent over the next few years on increasing ‘how’ and ‘what’ we collect in our next lot of data-drives.

If you approve of totalitarian tactics, creation of fear, sleepnessness, depression and arrogant child abuse to obtain better scores on unreliable tests, that those such as NAPLAN now provide, with the expectation of more datafication procedures,   you must belong to some kind of moronic religion or terror group that ignores humanity and children and fair-play and equality.  Get outa here. Go back home to dataland.

__________________________________________
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443 407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER :”Who’s Who in Australia.”

Kleinism in Australia 2017. Will it go away?

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

KLEINISM IN AUSTRALIA. WILL IT GO AWAY?

A REVIEW

The summer holidays are over ‘down under’, and Australia will commence the new school year under the most peculiar circumstances. We’d like to start a new year of school learning with high levels of confidence in our pupils’ abilities to do as well as they can  and with our own usual high level of teacher zest for teaching  young people how to go about it.  In the long run, we’d like to see Australia at the top of the pole for schooling excellence and our country amongst the leaders of commercial enterprise because of our business expertise in fundamentals and our ability to solve problems, innovate productively and enjoy challenges.   Sadly, these fundamental characteristics of a successful schooling system have to be held on hold for some years; replaced by a testing regime invented by a New York curriculum incompetent, teacher-hater, ex-lawyer;  once in charge of a school district there.

We aren’t allowed to start the school year down under with high hopes and positive attitudes. We are obliged to maintain the ridiculous; to start as early as possible with heavy preparation and intense practice for our annual standardized blanket testing program called NAPLAN, held each May.  Its clone is called NCLB in the US. As educators at the chalk-face, we have no option, no choice, no say. Our system is controlled by testucators, disciples of Kleinism….a fear based system of schooling that was imported in 2008 by Julia Gillard, later our Prime Minister; then federal minister for education. It was one of the biggest mistakes a government representative  ever made.

Following the 2007 federal elections, she was charged by her senior colleague Kevin Rudd, new to the job as PM, to reform the Australian education system almost immediately, because his fellow neo-cons were telling him that teachers were making a mess of it and that most Australian children couldn’t spell or calculate. He used serious threatening language in his instructions to the teaching force and to her, to find something better than what we had. The  Business Council of Australia and the ‘Four Pillars of Australian Banking’, both organisations of neo-liberal persuasion, roundly approved, despite both politicians being known within their temples of wisdom,  as ‘lefties’. It was a peculiar liaison….and became a weird time in our history.  Dutifully, she booked her flight to find a place somewhere in the world that had a reputation.  Actually, Australia had a reputation itself for being amongst the world’s best at the time, but anti-school fanatics were the preferred mouthpieces of the local press – especially the Murdoch press. No. She didn’t select  Finland, South Korea or nearby New Zealand whose schooling achievements were beyond the ordinary. Her first stop was New York. As macabre as the scenario appears, on her first day, she visited Rupert Murdoch, a requirement of all Australian leaders when they travel overseas….. to get their riding instructions.  He arranged for her to attend a cocktail party being organized by the Rockefeller Foundation where she was introduced to Joel Klein, a fellow lawyer who, as strange as it seemed to Australians, was in executive charge of a large school district in New York. His system had a reputation. Indeed. It had a really bigreputation – not for learning or teaching or anything to do with the realities of schooling, but for threatening learners and teachers and principals and schools to do as they were told and, if they didn’t measure up to his requirements, they were out of a job or the school was closed. He sweet-talked our Julia into the effectiveness of this sort of approach to school leadership and,…..within minutes…..Australia had a new system.

She didn’t request a study of the effects of high stakes testing on schooling, nor check the credentials of the New York operators.  She was conned, big time. Rupert and Joel Klein rubbed their hands with glee, because they were in the publishing, programming business, worth billions.

Not long later, Klein  openly boasted to the world that his test-based scheme was well established in Australia. He was correct. Although it is based on fear and deceit and child abuse, Australia still has  it.  The big boys, of the kind that were at the cocktail party, will not allow our government to have any other kind. Their colleagues in the BCA and banking fraternity keep vigilant. That’s clear.  Julia felt that she had found the ultimate touchstone of school control, and was able to persuade the Australian banking community to pay the cost of a visit by her ‘pin-up boy’, as she called co-lawyer Klein,  to speak to them in their own fortresses in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Despite some ethical uncertainties which she later modified by capturing the ‘approval’ of the principals of all Australian schools with a very  swift, cunning and deceitful maneuver. They had to carry the can for professional ethics, once they pronounced their approval of kleinist naplan.  Indeed, they dutifully suspended their professional ethics and still do….adopting an attitude that disappoints proud principals of the present and past wondering how this happened to organisations that were once stalwart and proud of their protection of children’s rights.  Federal and state education bodies, once citadels of wholesome schooling,  succumbed to the use of fear and the abuse of mental health of children for whom they are supposed to be responsible…..and….as Aussies say: “She was in with Flynn”. No blood on her hands.

She established a special unit called the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority a sort of third level of government power, a sort of bundestag that now completely controls schooling;  and  she made sure that it was staffed with expert measurers whose experience in schooling and teaching and learning was severely limited.  This incongruous mis-match between knowledge of testing and knowledge of learning between people running the show, has had profound consequences.  After all, whoever controls the schooling system, controls the country’s future. The outcomes of constructing testing devices that contain inbuilt pupil dislike and distaste for particular school subjects and for school itself …and doing so in a most rigid manner….has had  effects that run counter to the faith that she and ‘pin-up’ Klein had in improvement of PISA and NAPLAN raw scores. They flopped, failed, flunked all neo-con expectations as schools are doing in countries that are overdoing the fear base; and, it must be noted, run counter to the expectations of parents for schoolies to do the right thing.  Despites their attitude to childhood, they’d like their kids to do well. Australia, after eight years of kleinism is heading downhill fast.

The last few years in the US and in Australia have clearly demonstrated that no schooling system can progress while its most outstanding features at the chalk-face, each capable of gynormous damage, include

Fear of failing

Deceit

Abuse of mental health.

all deliberately imposed by forces beyond the classroom. Office-based testucators of known kleinish measurement calibre have no idea of what happens in the classroom. They just mass-produce tests, send them to schools, gather the data, pat themselves on the back, blame teachers when things don’t go so well.

But, hold! Now, a breath of fresh air. A hopeful start has been made in the US education circles, our major mentors, in December 2016, by reducing the ponderous effects of centralised control. Releasing states from their fearful obligations is a small step, but it is a step in the right direction. Maybe, one day, control of the learning act will seep down through the numerous know-it-all hierarchies to the real learning centres in all countries where the teaching/learning experts reside, now being wrecked by the corrupting influences of kleinism – fear,  deceit and abuse.

Down under, we’re notoriously slow to examine the effects of imports from up over.  The big boys there and here do not like it, when educators reveal the truth….that the problem lies within the testing itself. We can’t expect any improvement to learning in our schools in 2017. Both places have a devil-may-care attitude towards children and their schooling; and basic timidity prevents us from sticking up for kids.

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Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point Australia 2486    PH:07 5524 6443  cphilcullen@bigpond.com   Refer: “Who”s Who in Australia”

The Moral Crisis

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. [Dante]

The Moral Crisis

How do we treat our children?

My twilight years are fading and my preciously held dreams of a schooling system where children will love learning for its own sake and be anxious to get to a school each day because of the wonderful, happy, play-ridden and challenging activities that the school provides, and that they would exit school with much more enthusiasm for learning than they did when they started, seem to have disappeared. Their teachers, I had foreseen, which we already have, will form a warm bond of cooperative learning, that is embedded in the true meaning of PUPIL, with each child anxious to learn because of the special bond with a person anxious to teach them. There would be no fear of learning, no restrictions on the limits, no stress that might effect anyone’s attitude to learning each and every day. Teachers would be trusted to teach in their own way and each school would be free to do the sorts of things it wanted. There would be ‘Freedom to Learn’

I had hoped to leave the place in better condition than when I entered it, but, bugger, the Australian system of schooling is declining rapidly….and it doesn’t give a fig about the way it treats its children. I’m truly saddened by what I see and hear. Its nasty, politically-driven way of ordering schools around is perilous. NAPLAN’s corruption of all the goodness in the curriculum is grossly immoral because it deliberately threatens the mental health of millions of young Australians. Recent extensions of testucation to the very young, to graduands and beginning teachers are ludicrous and downright stupid. They grow every year, madly uncontrolled.

The morality of the way our politicians tell schools how to treat children is gross. We must free our kids.
Our pollies can re-set the course tomorrow if we tell them to do so.
They need to cancel NAPLAN as a first step only.

We have the children and the teachers who want to share happy, effective learning experiences. They are there now in happy groups ready to GO; and they try hard despite the commands of those who still live in the dark ages, who prefer emetic methods of instruction and ‘tough love’ exchanges…all so that each ‘student’ [vis-a-vis ‘pupil’] can reach a mediocre standard in selected topics that are easily measureable. Data. Data. Data. That’s what teachers are expected to do these days…..generally, doing as they are told….. by the politico-corporate duopoly whose intentions have been suspect since the Testing Industry, as a separate entity from the Schooling Industry, assumed power over schooling processes in a number of western countries. Pollies have selected testucation over education.

The Testing Industry established itself in Australia in 2008 as a serious business enterprise, after Joel Klein, the New York lawyer who invented fear-based Kleinism, visited Australia as a guest of the banking industry. [Yes, the same big four!] Banks want to employ geniuses on their counters, not those from the lower base of the bell-shaped curve. Since they are stuck with selections from the honest school plodders, they applaud the use of crash-bang-wallop techniques in schools to force-feed higher measureable scores in numeracy…in the manner that Klein advocated. That kind of force, added to the Rudd-Gillard press for a new election trick, was exerted on the standard timidity of the teaching profession which succumbed very quckly. They produced NAPLAN…. a blunt weapon of the testucrats and their ‘godfathers’. To the ‘ho-hum’ of historians, they dug-up the old reliable tormentor: ‘Back to Basic Standards”, with a new face : More fear. Cunning parental deceit. Slick rhetoric. Cooperative media. Deafening media silence on important topics. Sham professional groups selling their souls for sponsorship. Unlimited public money for testing. Moral degeneracy was in the very air.

While ‘Back to Basics’ lobbies emerge every few years, this one is lasting much longer than usual….much longer than it should. I had thought that School principal groups and professional associations would have refused to have anything to do with it on ethical grounds from Day One – the maltreatment of children – and, having had a trial, the force of ethical opinion would cause NAPLAN to disappear at least by 2010. I was wrong….very, very, disappointingly wrong. The style of ‘client capture’ by managerialists had been refined; and some groups now remain hard-wired to willing corporate sponsors. Kids don’t matter any more.

[When I first heard of the NAPLAN requirements I suggested to the President of APPA that he should have said at the outset, “No way, Julia. We don’t do that sort of thing to children.” Great bloke. He had an answer, but …….]

The biggest effects of the GERM movement have been on child welfare. Never before, in modern times, have children been so maltreated by governments. Illness, depression, bullying, suicides, family disruption, diminishing family coffers…. all part of the 2016 school landscape, thanks to NAPLAN. The increase in the timidity of those who should be most concerned is mind-blowing; and the scandal that it is more than basic timidity, is mind-blowing.

The willy-nilly use of fear-based standardised testing – on 5-year olds in Year 1, 7 year-olds in Year 3, all pupils to Year 9, the linkage of Year 9 tests to Year 12 graduation; on neophyte teachers; on public money allocated to states……all in the interest of “getting more bang for the buck” [Bimingham] is a despicable, destructive way to conduct an education system.

WHEN WILL WE EVER THINK OF THE KIDS AND HOW THEY LEARN AND HOW THEY SHOULD BE TAUGHT…AND TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS WITHOUT FEAR … how happy they are at school, how much joy they find in learning, how ‘lasting’ their school experiences are, whether they leave school with much more interest and joy and zest for learning than they had when they started, whether the period leading up to and including NAPLAN week in May is as much learning-fun as the rest of the year. Schooling, after all, is about KIDS.

These are very serious issues.

Have you ever thought you would see the day when a mother would be so concerned about the effects that our test-crazy system of schooling was having on her child that she would do extensive research and probing and thinking and talking and pondering and then write a book about it? And that book would become a best seller? Even her article about the book received tens of thousands of ‘hits’ on Facebook. Yes, there have also been some stirring articles written in recent times by expert insider teachers that have drawn the attention of the public to the kind a schooling that has been introduced to Australia, but when have you ever read such a comprehensive description such as Lucy Clark’s on the experiences of her daughter? Its insight into schooling activities in this day and age is exceptional.

The public is awakening, Treehorn. Take heart.

Somebody cares.

The book, Beautiful Failures, is a classic. The author has remarkable insight into the subject of schooling. Some of her chapter headings are intriguing: Square Pegs, round holes. Darling, we just want to make you happy. Where’d I come from? The pressure pyramid. Adolescence, lost. Stealing childhood. A wedge between generations. What should education be? Welcome to Education Theory High. Because I say so. The mythical place down the road. Teachers, kindness and making time for compassion.

If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour.

If, when you have finished it. and don’t think that we are on the edge of a deep national moral crisis, I despair totally.

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Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486
o7 5524 6443        0407865999
cphilcullen@bigpond.com
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’

When we return to common sense.

AUSSIE FRIENDS OF TREEHORN

Will Common Sense Ever Return to the Classroom?

 When your computer or TV set fails, switching the machine off for a while,  rejuvenates it. Maybe that’s what we need to do with the failed NAPLAN testing program. Switch the testing program off until a better alternative is found.

 It seems, though,  as if our politicians are too beholden to the big end of town and cannot prise themselves from its clutches. There’s nobody in Canberra with any grunt or spunk to try to stop the nonsense….to consider the plight of the millions of little Treehorns, totally ignored by adults.  They can’t turn off the greatest threat that Australia has to our economic growth; and they don’t seem to care about  the mental health of its young citizens.  For the sake of kids, maybe  the all powerful testucating fraternity appointed by our pollies, some of whom may have had a passing brush with schooling,   might have the power to turn the use of Naplan into a voluntary service.

 The well-heeled ACARA might like to make NAPLAN tests available free-of-charge to any teacher who requests them.  Just that. No collection of useless data. No competition. No harmful publication of results. Just let the teachers use them if they think that they are of any value and wish to use them. [As a test-fixated principal in my immature days, I wore out two copies of Diagnostic and Attainment Testing by Fred & Eleanor Schonell.  I loved testing.  I even asked a volunteer aide to spend her entire time over a few months  at the school, using Schonells’  Individual Reading Test, to test as many pupils as possible; and a contact at the Schonell Centre became a close friend. Except for the friendship made, the rest was a complete waste of time but it was on my terms. I wanted to know. After awakening to the extent of the damage that I was doing, I later found that the in-built classroom alternatives to blanket testing are much more effective and efficient at getting to know the child and assess class progress. Even routinized shared evaluation techniques work better than raw, bullying blanket types of mass testing.

( I hope testucators understand what I mean by that remark).]  Evaluation as part of the teaching/learning act is powerful stuff. Modes of shared evaluation focus on the child in a personal, confidential 3-way –teacher, pupil, parent – form of collaboration; and not on the extremely competitive, public, immoral Canberra-based one-hit way– – that Gabby Stroud described so well.] The gagging of principals and the mushrooming of parents were dreadful tactics to be employed when our frenemies introduced the scheme. The professional operators in the classroom have far more expertise than anyone located somewhere else, to be able to decide when and how any kind of test should be used.

 And….after all…..child welfare and love of learning MUST come first………. not working like mad to supply data to Canberra.

 Education in Australia needs to escape from its “Canberra state of mind’ and get back to the schools for learning purposes.

 Can anyone in the holy-of-holies explain why May is the chosen month for children to trade three days of learning for three days of stupid inactivity at a desk, filling in bubbles?  Simon?  Yes It suits Canberra.and its politicians aren’t brave enough to use basic common sense – or don’t know what blanket testing means in the schooling context.

 If economic growth hinges on harnessing knowledge, innovation and talent [SMH 18/09/16], Australia has big, big problems.  For years, we’re been heading in the wrong direction.  We’re on the edge of a plateau, heading downwards….that’s for sure. The existence of NAPLAN is very, very serious business. It’s effects can, no longer, be ignored!

 Please let COMMON SENSE prevail. Things have got out of hand. Talk to some real teachers.

 Have another look at ‘The Drum”  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-16/the-drum-friday-september-16/7854134

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

Ennuic Schools

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts, emotions and plain common sense in gear, ready to help children.

‘Since 2008, the neoliberal corporate sector, using its own forms of unionism and exploiting the most powerful elements of New Public Management [Managerialism on steroids], has been very successful. As a first step it captured and corralled  the leaders of various professional groups in Australia and arranged for mass ethical  gelding. It then cloned and dominated these associations that once used to stand guard on professional ethics, when they had balls….. Such organisations could rescue Australian schooling from the present doldrums….now….tomorrow…., but their pride in professional ethics and in high level enthusiasm for effective schooling has been successfully neutered and muted.”

 ENNUIC SCHOOLS

The Revised Version [20 July 2015]

 After 70 years since first facing a class of Year 3s, I’ve always had this deep desire for Australia to stop fiddling with schooling enterprises for a while and just THINK.  I remain optimistic about the possibility that Australia will, one day, think seriously about  its schooling/education system. Yes. [I have happened to note that things are much worse than they were in May , 1947].There have been one or two attempts in our past history to come to terms with a superior form of schooling, prominent amongst which was the establishment of a Schools Commission in 1973, with scholar Malcolm Skilbeck in charge….as you do {Google him]. His work in the U.K. since then, in the development of school-based curriculum has been seminal. The likelihood of school-based development of anything to do with basic schooling  in Australia  seems quite remote while testing children dominates the scene.. Schools are now controlled by a higher authority which treats schools as simple-minded collection centres for useless data that testucating measurers like to play with.

Despite this, I want to remain optimistic.  NAPLAN will go. One day.  It’s too damaging to Australia’s future to last. Entrapped in the serious corporate desire to control schooling as the big-end-of-town sees fit, schools have been forced to tolerate far too much dismemberment of children’s desire to learn.

 THINK. It’s 2016. We are on the edge of a schooling plateau, looking down

  1.  Disinterested adults now ignore the wonder of childhood to such an extent that its very existence is not relevant. Children are now regarded as hardened, little adult robots.
  2. The exercise of humane attitudes towards children is no longer discussed in the schooling context. Data matters, not kids. 
  3. Respect for children’s modes of individual development is now being totally  ignored. Remember “Each One if Different” by Prof. G.W. Bassett? Ye Gods!! That was 1962!  54 Years ago! Slow leaners aren’t we?
  4. The heart of a healthy, social, professionally ethical  and economically  secure learning environment for all has disappeared from our down-under island nation.
  5. The rich knowledge base and expertise possessed by classroom primary teachers is unused and generally ignored.

 Just in passing, Paul Wildman has reminded me of Sotto, E. (1994). When Teaching becomes Learning: A Theory and Practice of Teaching. London: Cassell. 230pgs. Only 22 years ago!

 You might be able to see, from my politico-schooling paradigm [attached], why I maintain a little bit of hope, however.  The designs show why we are held back.  Australia can only stand so much of NAPLAN-based  ennuic schools…..just going through the motions…..the stage that is all too common at this time.  NAPLAN is being ridiculed –CRAPLAN – with adjectives that we normally avoid. People are looking forward to the movie! Comic drama?  However. While schools are encouraged to be just formal and functional, collecting heaps of data, there’s a bit of grit left at this ennui stage; and recovery is possible. Australia badly needs innovative schools with enthusiastic personnel, independent in curriculum interpretations, icons of professional ethics; and happy places for children to attend, because of all the wonderful learning enterprises that are offered there. But…

 The Treehorn call over the years for adults to be more conscious of the damage being done at present,  has fallen on deaf ears. Classroom primary teachers and authors like Lucy Clark and her  Beautiful Failures, tell the story of the damage….and it’s serous stuff.

 Since 2008, the neoliberal corporate sector , using its own forms of unionism [They run the most powerful Unions in the country] and exploiting the most powerful elements of New Public Management [Managerialism on steroids], has been quite successful.  As a first step it captured and corralled the leaders of  various professional groups and in the style of ‘lambs to the slaughter’, arranged for the mass gelding of professional ethics.  It then cloned and dominated the associations that used to stand guard on professionalism…when they had balls.The Australian Primary Principals Association http://www.appa.asn.au/about-us/ was concumed by the Australian Government Primary Principals Association, http://www.agppa.asn.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2%3Ayour-new-agppa-website&Itemid=11 for instance…..according to plan.  Let’s not muck around with the semantics of the take-over. It now belongs to Simon.  Both deknackered Associations approved of NAPLAN and continue to support its crude exploitation. Captured! On hard labour.

Once strong on ethical behaviour, principals’ organisations and their networks acquiesced in obscene haste. There has been no serious public discussion regarding testing and system evaluation since…….none available to the public, that is.  Such organisations could rescue Australia from the present doldrums and positively alter the course of Australia’s future, but their pride has been neutered and muted.  Ethical muscle is being held in detention.

State governments themselves had no choice. They were captured first.  A piece of cake, really.  No testing; no money. The threat saw their knees turn to jelly. They sold their respectability without a question or a whimper. None seems to want the schooling business back. They just don’t have the balls to run their own schools properly. ….and any one of them could do a better job than they do at that funny-farm in Canberra.

 Since 2008 Australia has used an education system controlled by fear-based standardised testing techniques. Once state responsibilities Australian schools are, clearly, now run by ACARA…. a politico- kleinist  organisation established by Julia Gillard and a group of testucators. Children have been exploited in the interests of a greedy testing industry whose profits rely on the neoliberal way of doing fearful things to children.  Adults, in tune with the causal attitude  shown by school administrators,  don’t care much what happens to the kids. Treehorn will tell you more.

 I still wait for the teaching profession to grow in spunk terms and sternly exert its ethics based on the considerations of  effective teaching strategies, whose results would make Australia a proud nation.  It will happen. I’m optimistic.  Why am I so certain? I have never met a teacher who has joined the profession to be as nasty to our children as the present system demands…..and I’ve met a number who have left because of the lack of professional ethics. I reckon that most teachers are sick of NAPLAN schooling. We have some strong, great teachers in Australia. No classroom teacher that I know, favours NAPLAN.

 It should not be too difficult for the government to arrange to forgather large groups of classroom Years 1 to 10 to ask them to describe what compulsory schooling should look like.

 To help THINKING in ordered form, I have a couple of designs [Zone of Acceptance, and Belief and Control Systems ] that I find handy. How do you feel about such presentations? Do you have one to share?

 There will soon be a strong resurgence of professional ethics. One can feel it in the air.  Compliancy and heresy [the belief that fear works best in the teaching act] need to be discussed.   Principals and school administrators need to come out and stamp their authority at the same time….before  any more NAPLAN tests are allowed to persist with its damage to fair dinkum learning processes. Schooling needs to be returned to schools and its real teachers.

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

 Let’s think