The hysterical history of our testucation system.

The Hysterical History of Australian Schooling

Important principles of school administration  have not changed much since the education industry was established in Australia. We still have a similar arrangement to what we had when we kicked off.  The monied gentry would tell the governor what they wanted and expect to get it.  They still do. They still rule. It’s easy to describe.

Mind you, there were no state schools providing free and compulsory schooling and those who came from the great Britain in earlier colonial times were used to an arrangement back home where churches and a few private societies supplied schools. The remnants of this system remain. There are public and private schools.

Rev. John Dunmore Lang was a big wheel in Sydney society in the 1830s, and a passionate educator, according to historian, David Hunt.  Lang was concerned by the increasing numbers of Irish bushrangers – The Wild Colonial Boy and his impoverished kind were becoming a real nuisance. “Lang, a Presbyterian minister hated Catholics and believed that they were conspiring to ‘rivet the chains of popery on a deluded people in the Australian colonies'”; so he started a school in 1826 to counter their influence.

The irreverent Hunt [“True Girt”]wrote : “The Church of England was the only church to have an official presence in NSW in the first decade of settlement and it hadn’t exactly set the colony alight. While the church half-heartedly provided a few schools, they were funded by the state, a radical departure from British practice.
In 1824, Governor Brisbane reported, ‘every murder or diabolical crime, which has been committed in the colony since my arrival, has been perpetrated by Irish Catholics’ . Believing strong moral leadership  from the church would reduce Catholic crime, Brisbane funded Therry’s schools.” (Fr. Therry was the first Catholic priest allowed to practice his faith in the colony and was keen to establish the schools for altruistic and religious purposes.) Believing  that strong moral leadership from the church would reduce Catholic crime, Brisbane funded Therry’s Catholic schools. He also partially financed the building of Australia’s first Catholic Church, given the impoverished state of the predominantly Irish Catholics, although he refused to pay for any over-the-top papist frou-frou.”

“This Catholic aid outraged Lang. The splenetic Scot complained that he was forced to give his sermons in a schoolhouse shared with diabolical papists, who assaulted his nostrils with their incense and his ears with their bell-ringing. Brisbane refused his demands for a government-subsidised church because the Scottish Presbyterians had enough cash hidden in their mattresses to build one themselves.”

What a diabolical setting it would have been for a  2010 Gillard-type ‘My School’ presentation!

“The arrival of Therry and Lang brought the long-dormant religious divisions of the old country to the surface,”  continued Hunt. “The Catholics hated the Anglicans for not permitting Catholic education in their schools; the Presbyterians hated the Catholics for receiving government support and for being Catholics and the Anglicans hated the Catholics and Presbyterians  for moving onto their turf. Sectarianism had stormed into the previously secular colony, its battlefield the hearts and minds of children.”

William Charles Wentworth was a key figure in the introduction of state education. Also, money was his God and he could not abide having the poor in any decision-making position. “People with property portfolios and sheep should be given the vote and people without them should not. The poor were not fit to determine the future of the colony, as ‘ignorance and poverty went together’. In the world of Wentworth’s faith, the moneychangers would be keepers of the Temple.” That’s how our super-elite took power, and the thought-bubbles that encourage such a point of view persist to the present day.  Schoolies are part of the poor and ignorant brigade.  They don’t count. The governance of the day and teacher groups will do as they are told by those who matter. ….and so say all of us….right through to today.   The notion of the schooling profession using its expertise to run schools all around the vast land to teach the children to read and write and calculate properly, was not on the agenda….the same as it is now….and, so, teachers just have to enjoy being the target of ingenuous, ignorant, dishonest, elitist nincompoopish criticism, because the self-important, very rich  cockalorums say so.

Part of the Gillard-Klein negotiations included the New York proposal that principals and teachers be sacked if their schools did not get decent results in set tests. It’s  still on the  klein/gillard agenda and will receive little oppositions from Australia’s meek and mild teacher groups when it becomes instituted. UBS [‘UBS’ is an anagram for all sorts of things] paid the fare of Joel Klein and his wife to come down under to proseltyse the values of whipping kids and teachers into shape, for money. He only spoke to big business and to their press at their club. We members of the poor and ordinary, bought it  all…big time.  UBS MEANS BIG, BIG POWER AND CONTROL, in case you want to know.   It owns us….well….our public-care institutions.

Ironically, Wentworth, at the time,  had an ally in the press. Horatio Spencer Howe Wills, publisher of The Gazette,  who joined with Willy and, together,  they founded The Australian Patriotic Association. “The membership fee of £5 kept the riffraff out and the association’s policy of denying the vote to poor people, blacks and women encouraged a number of the more progressive exclusives to join. Governors Bourke and Gipps lent their support…..”  and nothing much has changed to the present day. The denigration of the most important of the caring professions remains a feature of our schooling. 

In the mother country, popular education had to have a religious basis  In the Old Dart, the State started in 1833 to make contributions to schools started by the National Public Schools Association following heavy advocacy by secularist and those who hotly disputed the claims of the Church of England to be responsible for national education. As is usual in such cases, dispute  and conflict and dissatisfaction was maintained until Britain decided to establish a Department of Education in 1856.  A Royal Commission [ a certainty for Australiaeducation in a few years from now] was appointed in 1858. It found that churches had done a reasonable job, but, generally speaking the standard was too elementary and superficial….and children were leaving school too early to get a job. Disputes, conflict and dissatisfacton kept reigning. It was the period of Wentworth and Lang wrestling with Governors Bourke and Gipps in the colonies. Chaos and uncertainty. Schooling in Australia had no model , so we tolerated a kind of chaos – who does what to whom and who cares – free-wheeling = as it was in Britain.

Not only that. Since the state was paying grants to schools on a per capita basis, a mere numbering of attendees was unsatisfactory.  The pupils had to be up to scratch with their standards.  During this period, England’s Parliament introduced what they called a Revised Code. As Barnard [P.130] notes : The government will pay per capita grants to schools which had a satisfactory report from Her Majesty’s Inspector. These grants would be supplemented by local grants from county and borough rates. Thus was introduced the system of ‘payment by results’ which hampered the development of elementary education for many years to come.”  OMG! It lasted forty years....and our NAPLAN has been going for ten….which is certainly nine years too long.

“…the shortcomings of the Revised Code were clearly  seen by such educationists as Kay-Shuttleworth and Matthew Arnold; and subsequent history show the justice of their condemnation of it. The examination system resulted – as it so often does – on overpressure on children, due to the anxiety to produce ‘results’. The teaching of the three ‘Rs’ may have improved because teachers were tempted to concentrate on these grant-earning subjects and neglect other work; but this encouraged mechanical methods of teaching. The New Code also tended to demoralise the teacher. Their position in the eyes of their managers and therefore their very livelihood, might depend on the amount of the grant earned by their pupils. Hence there was a temptation to falsify registers and hoodwink inspectors by requiring pupils to learn off their reading book by heart. One of the inspectors stated that  he used to counteract this pratice by requiring pupils to read their book backwards. ‘

NAPLAN has returned us to the exigencies of The Revised Code…..with its over-pressure, anxiety and stress….way beyond blue.   We must wonder at the wisdom of those of the NAPLAN sect, who ignore the lessons of history. Their lack of classroom experience and ignorance of the psychology  of classroom behaviour does not do anything for Australian progress. We are driving at breakneck speed, using only the rear-vision mirror for guidance, backwards.

Put another way :- Once we arrive back at about the 1830’s standards …which shouldn’t be too long,…we will probably continue to exercise the tenants of the Kajabbi Complex. “The Kajabbi Complex is named the antics of after two notable Queensland  North  Westerners who  had had a successful day at the races at Kajabbi, not far from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The two  celebrated excessively, atthe bramble bar before  heading, late in the night, for their home town, Cloncurry.  They drove for hours and did not seem to be getting any closer.  They paused at a signpost to check things out. It said “6 Furlongs”. They had  been driving  in circles around the Kajabbi racetrack for hours…..around and around, as if the were NAPLAN testucators.

Sadly. the Revised Code lasted so long that its test-test-test cancer became part of the DNA of British-style schooling, despite the efforts of Matthew Arnold and superior educators of the time. Church schools applauded the rigours of testing, believing in the long run that preparation for tests was a holy mission and a legitimate enterprise. The Gradgrinds of the world thought it was Christmas all year. They could watch the kids squirm for months.  While western-style cultures have been praying for the ghost of Matthew Arnold to re-emerge, corporate bodies and other proponents of Gillard’s kleinism, have been burning effigies of him. He made too much common-sense for them…They just can’t comprehend that teachers make the most of child’s zest for learning by using the full range of teaching strategies [not just direct, chalk-talk didactic instruction];and there is no need to scare the living daylights out of them. Vision-impaired, these just wont see. They must believe that producing learners with top-level intellectual capacities is a communist plot or something and that the conventional target of producing mediocre scholars because we have always done that sort of thing and we should maintain the traditions. “Learning how to learn because we like it” must be  disgusting socialist stuff like they do in Finland up near those Commie countries.

Kleinists  want us to respect our heroes…..Thomas Gradgrind, Joel Klein himself, Rupert Murdoch, Julia Gillard  and Simon Birmingham as they thunder down the stretch of the Kajabbi racetrack heading for the next round – not knowing how far to go nor where they are heading – charter schools, Year 1 Tests, full school testing, dumbing down test levels, computer testing, pre-graduation testing, sacking principals, sacking teachers, appointing big named sciolists to administrative positions; all floating around as ‘different’ ideas. Your local member will fit in with them, if he/she doesn’t have a mind of their own. It’s all yet to come.

London to a brick.

Aussies seem struck with a special kind of attitude, born of an hysterical past. Right?



NAPLAN victims of stress, anxiety, depression and sleeplessnes will be relieved to learn that Ms. Julia Gillard, co-founder of our kleinist system of schooling, is taking control of the organisation that works towards the relief for sufferers from stress, anxiety and depression.


Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524644  0407865999      REFER: Who’s Who in Australia


Treehorn: Comments on Comments


“NAPLAN is an optional extra – like Religious Instruction and School Excursions – which should require the approval of parents for children to participate. Its threatening impact on children’s mental health is too serious to slap on top of a regular learning curriculum just to provide data for a politically-inspired institution…..and then ‘allow’ parents to withdraw if they want!!”




Ray Armstrong adds to the previous Treehorn Express. Please feel free to add your own.

“Serious consideration must be given to the abolition of the NOPLAN (literacy and numeracy) tests unless changes are made, mainly because  any “results” are invalid. If the tests are to be kept, then they must be administered in a scientific way, not the ad hoc system that now exists. 

For all intents and purposes, they are standardized tests which are unfortunately not administered in a standardized manner. Any Psychology 101 student could tell you this, yet the government persists with them. If you want reliable results, the way the tests are organized must be changed.

No valid conclusions can be from tests that ignore accepted procedure. 

The way the tests are administered leaves them open to manipulation and interference. When millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is distributed on the basis of the test results, a more serious approach should be given to their implementation. 

For a start, the tests should not be given by the classroom teacher who has a vested interest in the results. A suitably trained anonymous person like a school counsellor should be engaged. With teachers increasingly ‘teaching to the tests’, settings ‘trial tests’ for weeks before, it is critical that these tests be administered by a person not known to the children and from outside the school

With this in mind, I was more than pleased to observe  that Angelo Gavrielatos of the Australian Education Union, has said teachers should boycott the tests. Many schools teachers “help” their children in order to boost their own standing, their school’s and any grant increases that may result as a spinoff from the tests. Only recently there were media reports of schools that had extraordinary improvements in their results over previous poor scores with no reasonable explanation. The answer is obvious to opponents of NOPLAN. Would you all like to see the HSC tests given out by the classroom teacher? I think not.

If you want to know how your child is progressing visit your school, talk with your child’s teacher, become engaged with your child’s school

The Naplan tests should be abolished. They are a waste of money. The money should be diverted to schools and their more immediate needs. The tests damage children and there is no research that demonstrates they do any good. In fact they do great harm. The time devoted to ‘teaching to the tests’ could be used in more creative educational pursuits.

Sadly, Governments will persist with NOPLAN until? Well I will tell you! Until a few of them have their seats threatened. As soon as politicians see there is even the slightest chance of losing their seats as a result of their obsession with NOPLAN only then will they act. This will mean groups like Treehorn will have to be more organized, address parental groups, communicate with other educational organizations (Principals’ Councils, P&C’s) and seek funding. ”


Richard Flint, former army officer,  offered some advice to teachers….

“All who want to be better teachers. Never mind the wordy talk about NAPLAN. Teach better where ever you are..

No such a thing as bad students , only bad teachers.

To improve student performance ,increase teacher skill

Good teachers are expert in skills to impart knowledge to students. Student learn little if left to themselves.

Teachers can only teach approved doctrine. Most professions determine the minimum standard for licence or registration as a practitioner.

Education is too important to be left to teachers alone. The community determines what it wants its inhabitants to know.

There has always been examinations, usually annually, to allow to students to rise to the next age level. Didn’t have a fancy name in the past.

Difficulty is experienced creating a syllabus for Australia wide use.  For example, Darwin has difference to Melbourne for ethnic reasons. Rural is different to urban.

An examination can only be successful if it tests all the salient points of a subject.

Students tested a half an hour after the teaching session only remember some of the subject, results  are worse later. Revision is essential.

Last but not least. The only way to success in learning is to instil motivation. Students don’t learn if they don’t want to.”

R.S.Flint   AM, Brigadier (Ret) – Former Director General of Army Training and Education


Stan Price, ex-teacher, differentiates between schools.

“We have a differentiated school system in Australia.
1. There are the NAPLAN-conditioned ones which care more about the test results than about the substance of school learning.
2. There are the learning focussed schools who teach children and tolerate the nuisance interruption of Naplan.
3. There are anti-NAPLAN schools which openly discuss the effects of Naplanning on their learning philosophy , and encourage dissent.

It’s too confusing.
I’d like to send my daughter to the third kind that openly discusses issues such as NAPLAN’S effects on learning, but there aren’t any handy.”

Connie,Assistant Principal says.
“I don’t know what we will do this year during the change-over to computerised testing.  We don’t have enough computers now, so I guess special arrangements will be made.
Our suburb is not high on the socio-economic scale and our children are not used to computers.  Will the tests be modified to  cater for the confusion to come?  If so, what use will the test results then be?

article on ‘Attitude’in January 2017 applies:
Monopath, Julia Gillard, representing our entrenched screwball attitude to schooling when she chose the Klein system of fear-based learning in 2007, did so with confidence that Australia’s attitude to schooling and scoring is of the bang-crash-wallop-fear kind. Attitude! With her attitude embedded in looking for a malevolent solution rather than a tender, inclusive one for Australia to conduct an  evaluation of its schooling system, she only went for one extreme view. She only looked at one, using the Stuart Firestein technique of ‘farting around in the dark’, and she grabbed the kind her friend Kevin wanted. Since then, of course, it has been shown that she boo-booed,  that the use of NAPLAN testing to judge the standard of schooling is the work of fools, but we are stuck with it because she and her political and corporate friends said that we must do as we are told….despite our professional desires to exert true ethics and esoteric knowledge that will benefit children…..and avoiding the kind of  serious damage that NAPLAN inflicts.



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

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

Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling

Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Punishment by Results is the latest innovation for teachers.

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

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

NAPLAN. What a bummer!



 Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses

 NAPLAN. What a bummer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The Templestrowe College was mentioned in a subsequent radio interview or see .This school is organised on levels of ability, not age, and on real pupil choice of learning. .  I imagine NAPLAN testing would be difficult to organise; and quite unnecessary in terms of feed-back.

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

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

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

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

NAPLAN: Maintaining the Mediocre

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

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


Vote for Kids. Opt out of NAPLAN

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

 Think of that on July 2


NAPLAN: Maintaining the Mediocre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 Vote for Kids. Opt out of NAPLAN

 Why do we tolerate it?

Are we stuck with it?

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

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

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

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

KLEINISM – Are We Stuck With It?


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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