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

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Chapter 1

The Purpose of Public Education

‘Honesty is the first chapter in wisdom’ Jefferson

Ask any teacher or administrator “What is the purpose of public education?” and more likely than not they will recite their district’s mission statement, perhaps one as succinct as the Nebo School District’s in Utah We engage, empower, and collaborate to ensure student success.”  Or perhaps it more typically reads like this one from a rural Missouri district “The mission of the Warren County R-III School District is to empower each child to fully reach his or her potential as a life-long learner, a responsible adult and a contributing member of a diverse society.”  Or it may even come with a disclaimer as this long mission statement from a Pennsylvania district:

Mission Statement

The Mission Statement, Beliefs, and Goals presented below are the result of work completed by Cumberland Valley School District’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee. These philosophy statements are not an attempt to state how things are, but rather are intended to give impetus and direction toward meeting the needs of all children who attend the schools of this district now and in the future.

Our Mission

The Cumberland Valley School District, in collaboration with students, educators, parents and the community, is committed to developing 21st century learning and thinking skills through a rigorous, relevant, and comprehensive curriculum, while preparing students to be innovative, productive citizens in an interconnected world. (italics in original)

Does each mission statement, being used as a proxy for the fundamental purpose of public education, help fulfill the fundamental purpose of public education?  What is that fundamental purpose and where can it usually be found?  Is there even a fundamental purpose?  To answer the last question first, it depends!  Well, what does it depend on then? In answering that question we also answer the where question—the constitution of each state.

But there’s a catch, not every state constitution gives a purpose for its authorization of public education.  It’s a 50/50 split with 25 states not giving any purpose such as West Virginia’s authorization “The Legislature shall provide, by general law, for a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” (Article XII, Sec. 12-1) and 25 states providing a rationale.

Those 25 rationales can be divided into three types.  Those that declare that the purpose of public education is to ensure that the state’s form of government will continue, such as South Dakota’s “The stability of a republican form of government depending on the morality and intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature to establish and maintain a general and uniform system of public schools. . . .” (Article VIII  § 1).  Those whose fundamental purpose focuses on the individual and his/her rights such as Missouri’s “A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools . . . .” (Article IX Sec. 1a)  And those that are a combination of both.  As it is, fifteen mainly focus on the benefits of public education to the individual citizen and the preservation of his/her rights, five on the benefit to the state and five that state both citizen and government benefits.

All together then, there are 25 states with no stated fundamental purpose, five with a purpose that extol the benefits of public education to the state, fifteen commending the benefits to the individual and five a combination of benefit to both state and individual, resulting in 80% of those with a stated purpose of having the benefits for the individual as the primary rationale.  Is it possible, then, to discern a fundamental purpose of public education?  Yes, I believe it can be ascertained, by starting with the fundamental purpose of government in this country as stated in each state’s constitution (sometimes as troublesome to recognize a stated purpose as that of public education).  Since public education is a function of each state and not the federal government we must begin at the state level to determine what the fundamental purpose of the state is.  In examining the constitutions one finds that there many and varied exhortations.

For example Alabama’s constitution states:  “Objective of government. That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.” (Section 35)  Or this from Nebraska “All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof. To secure these rights, and the protection of property, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (Art. I, sec. 1)

All well and good, eh!  Quite compelling is the Missouri constitution’s wording on the purpose of government:  “That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.” (Article. II, Sec. 4. § 3.)

Tying together the aims of our constitutional government with the purpose of public education as stated in some of the state’s constitution allows us to propose a common fundamental statement of purpose. Since 20 of the 25 state constitutions give a reason attending to the rights and liberties of the individual through public education combined with the mandate of state constitutional government as reflected in Missouri’s constitutional language of “That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry. . .” it follows that the rights and liberties of the individual in being educated as each sees fit supersede those of supporting and maintaining the government.  And that one can logically conclude that if the educational wants and needs of the citizens obtain then those of the state will follow.  But without an educated citizenry who can promote their own interests, and who can understand and tolerate others thoughts, opinions and desires, the state would surely be subject to tyranny by those whose knowledge and wants exceeds most.

I propose, then, the following statement of the purpose of public education with which, hopefully, most in the United States could agree:

“The purpose of public education is 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.”

Any educational practice that is shown to hinder, block and/or otherwise cause an individual to not be able to indulge in any of aspect of his/her rights as stated has to be considered as harmful and unjust not only to the individual but also to society and therefore must rightly be condemned as educational malpractice and ought to be immediately discontinued.  Trampled rights are rights that are non-existent and the educational malpractice that tramples any right is unjust and as noted in Alabama’s constitution “is usurpation and oppression” and as Missouri’s declares “. . . when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.

I contend that many of today’s federal and state mandates and even long standing educational practices are, indeed, malpractices that trample the rights of the most innocent in society, the children, the students of all ages attending public schools, in essence “it [public education] fails in its chief design.”  Should the government through the public schools be sorting, separating, ranking, and/or grading students through logically bankrupt invalid practices discriminating against some while rewarding others?  I contend it should not!  Where is the justice in discriminatory practices?  By evaluating those malpractices against the aforementioned purpose we will be able to ascertain whether or not they are just.

In what follows concepts of truth and Sponville’s “fidelity to truth” will be illuminated, justice concerns will be discussed, professional ethical issues delineated, and the error and falsehood filled conceptual bases of standards and measurement and grading as now used in public education will be elaborated.  It will be shown how using the epistemologically and ontologically bankrupt schemes of grading, educational standards and standardized testing come together in causing untold psychological harm to the students, discriminating against some students while rewarding others and begetting structural injustice causing public schools to “fail in their chief design.

Education Readings June 30th

By Allan Alach

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

Shifting Needs in a Digital World

‘Our kids need to learn the responsible and safe use of digital devices. They need to learn not only balance but also boundaries. And as parents and educators that means modeling limits and responsible use. What message do we send our kids when we ourselves are not present but instead distracted by the device in our hands, instead of focusing on them? Technology is a tool, and with it comes a means to powerful connectivity and knowledge, but in the end, it does not replace the importance of human interaction, face to face conversations and personal relationships.’

http://bit.ly/2s3Qejh

Thirty Minutes Tops

A nice little satire.

‘As a parent, I really cannot cover everything I want my kids to learn from me in the four hours I have them at home. I really like my kids teachers and I really appreciate all the work they do during the day, but due to the short amount of time I have my kids at home, I’m going to have to send some work back to school with my kids to complete during the seven hours they spend in the classroom. I apologize for the negative impact this work might have on the teachers and the rest of the class.’

http://bit.ly/2tqLvwd

Preaching the Value of Social Studies, in a Second Career

‘While spending anywhere from several weeks to half a year on a topic might seem excessive, she said, students are really learning not just about that particular topic, but about how to study something. They’re learning that, when studying a culture, they need to look at a variety of features, like religious beliefs, economy and gender roles. When studying a system or an organization, they need to look, as Ms. Switzer often says, at “the tools, the rules, the consumers, and the workers.”’

http://nyti.ms/2sT5our

Is it okay for children to count on their fingers?

‘Is it OK for children to count on their fingers? Generations of pupils have been discouraged by their teachers from using their hands when learning maths. But a new research article shows using fingers may be a much more important part of maths learning than previously thought.’

http://bit.ly/2tmNXDp

7 reasons why ‘marking’ sucks

‘Inside the Black Box by Black &Wiliam, should be compulsory reading for all teachers, trainers and lecturer, so it was a delight to see him give a masterclass in assessment with solid, evidence-based advice that you can apply straight from the hip in teaching. Marking may do more damage than most educators realise. It is a summative assessment technique, all too often wrongly used in formative assessment.’

http://bit.ly/2s3GXHR

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The need to place creativity central to all learning.

Bruce’s latest article.

‘Existing research has recognised that successful/creative people in any discipline use creativity to enhance their thinking but until now this has not been applied to exemplary teachers.  The study focussed on how exceptional teachers use creativity in the classroom and was based on in-depth interviews with highly accomplished teachers.’

http://bit.ly/2s4Ie1v

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning

‘“If you design a system to do something, don’t be surprised if it does it,” Robinson said at the annual Big Picture Learning conference called Big Bang. He went on to describe the two pillars of the current system — conformity and compliance — which undermine the sincere efforts of educators and parents to equip children with the confidence to enter the world on their own terms.’

http://bit.ly/2jEkts6

How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms

Not just an American issue:

‘Last year, Microsoft and Code.org helped push for a career-education bill that, education researchers warned, could prioritize industry demands over students’ interests. Among other things, they said, it could sway schools to teach specific computer programming languages that certain companies needed, rather than broader problem-solving approaches that students might use throughout their lives.“It gets very problematic when industry is deciding the content and direction of public education,” said Jane Margolis, a senior researcher at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.’

http://nyti.ms/2t2jHvk

There’s an essential skill not being taught enough in classrooms today

‘That skill is thinking. “Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students…“Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students to memorize,” ., a common underlying problem is this “dearth of critical thinking skills.”’

http://bit.ly/2u00fzr

Personalized Learning Is NOT Inclusion!

‘Personalized learning must not be mistaken for inclusion. The reality is that it’s student isolation!Inclusion is generally defined as the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Doing schoolwork on a digital device by yourself is not inclusion. It’s ability grouping for one.’

http://bit.ly/2sjgg6o

Alarm raised over principals’ burnout rate

I can really relate to this.

‘Rural school principals are struggling to cope with the demands of their job and the Educational Institute says it wants more help for them. The problem was highlighted at a recent meeting of principals who ran schools so small that they had to teach in the classroom as well as manage the school, the institute said.’

http://bit.ly/2t2xS3u

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Guy Claxton – building learning power.

“We need, says Claxton, ‘to provide our students with the emotional and cognitive resources to become the ‘confident, connected, life long learners’; the vision of the NZ Curriculum . To achieve this is all about powerful pedagogy.The important thing, he said, was to infuse the Key competencies into every thing that happens at school and not see them as a ‘bolt on’.”

http://bit.ly/1G23Q2m

Write Now Read Later

‘These days reading, or better still the language arts ( now called by a more technocratic title ‘literacy’) seems to have been taken over by academics who are pushing a phonemic approach onto schools – ‘P’ Pushers! This is an approach that distorts the organic relationship between experience, oral language, writing and reading – all premised on a need to make meaning and to communicate.’

http://bit.ly/1IzS3Vw

Education Readings May 12th

By Allan Alach

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

A Provisional Curriculum For When Walking Is Taught At School

Kelvin Smythe wrote a similar satire over 25 years ago – coincidence?  Good read all the same.

‘To secure the quality and consistency of walking skills in forthcoming generations, it is anticipated that walking will soon be taught by professional teachers in properly equipped educational facilities. The following curriculum has been designed to achieve optimum results.’

http://bit.ly/2r3Kwho

Discipline, Punishment and Mental Health

‘In the past 25 years rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers in the UK have increased by 70 per cent. How has society managed to produce a generation of teenagers in which mental-health problems are so prevalent?

Has the depersonalisation of learning and migration to a teacher-centred and curriculum-focused approach to education been a factor in this increase?’

http://bit.ly/2r1NmCs

Kids Don’t Fail, Schools Fail Kids: Sir Ken Robinson on the ‘Learning Revolution’

‘Robinson delivered a keynote address in which he spoke to the “learning revolution,” arguing that the shift to personalized learning is a non-negotiable in the United States if education is prepared students for the future, instead of simply the “now.”

So, why then is personalized learning a non-negotiable?’

http://bit.ly/2r3oE5q

Dear Friend About to Leave Teaching…

‘As another school year comes to a close, I am once again surrounded by teachers who are ready to give up or change careers. There are always complaints about testing, administration, other teachers, students … the list goes on and on. Each year, it feels like you’re at your wit’s end.’

‘Before you give up and leave teaching, please consider these three things …’

http://bit.ly/2qtdCcO

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play.

‘But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.’

http://bit.ly/2r1R539

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Responsibility and Inner Discipline

We hear so much about children’s behaviour in schools . This short PDF  based on the work of Barbara Coloroso would make a good basis for a staff meeting.

‘A major goal of education is to teach students to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner. To do so, students mush acquire an inner sense of responsibility and self-control.’

http://bit.ly/2q4BgLq

The problem with tests that are not standardized

Alfie Kohn.

‘Many of us rail against standardized tests not only because of the harmful uses to which they’re put but because they’re imposed on us. It’s more unsettling to acknowledge that the tests we come up with ourselves can also be damaging. The good news is that far superior alternatives are available.’

http://wapo.st/2qUMtiZ

Why dividing us by age in school doesn’t make sense

‘Dividing children by age in schools doesn’t make sense. After few seconds of skepticism, I took his argument seriously and I realized that the idea of grouping students by age was an assumption I had never challenged before.What we take for granted and see as “how things are“, is often just “how things have been done lately“. The fact that we grow up doing things in a certain way tend to install in us the assumption that that’s the unique way to do them, and that humans have always been doing them that way.’

http://bit.ly/2pyKqMC

Be The Change You Want to See By Shifting Traditional High School

‘Great ideas and extraordinary teaching happen in public school classrooms all over the country, but these pockets of innovation often don’t get the attention they deserve. More often the schools held up as models for the future of learning started with a carefully articulated vision around change, a hand-picked staff, and even some startup capital. Changing the traditional approaches to teaching and learning that have been in place for decades within an existing school is extremely difficult work.But passionate teachers and leaders are doing just that.’

http://bit.ly/2q743gL

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Integrated learning at its best!

Flexible thinking in a traditional school – you don’t need flexible learning environments

‘It seems that modern schools require Flexible Learning Environments (FLEs) when what is more important is flexible or innovative thinking. Opunake Primary is one such innovative school which makes use of James Beane’s democratic ideas to empower kids  linked with  a powerful inquiry learning model and mixed age teaching. Add to this their emphasis on presenting student findings through displays, exhibitions, models’ demonstrations and a range of modern media and you have a school worth emulating.’

http://bit.ly/2q4vhWE

Creativity – its place in education

An oldie written by Wayne Morris

‘Is it important to our futures that creativity be taught?What place should creativity have in our education systems?Should we teach creatively or teach for creativity?“By providing rich and varied contexts for pupils to acquire, develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, understanding and skills, the curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and to make a difference for the better. It should give them the opportunity to become creative, innovative, enterprising and capable of leadership to equip them for their future lives as workers and citizens. It should enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and cope with change and adversity.”Source: UK National Curriculum Handbook [p 11-12]:’

http://bit.ly/129fP7s

Superkids; the hurried generation!

‘This hurrying is understandable in an age of increasing speed and insecurity and there is a growing industry ready to provide whatever any parents requires to give their child an academic advantage, non the least the computer industry! Parents often feel guilty if they aren’t providing all they can.Unfortunately most of what is being provided goes against what we know as age appropriate learning.’

http://bit.ly/1qKnlqv

NAPLAN and Rah Rah

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

Our Wallabies Need NAPLAN

 I started the day by reading this educational gem from NZ’s Minister for Testucation.

CTGgJuOUwAAXXAm

Poor New Zealand kids.

Then, within minutes, I read an article in the S.M.H. 07-11-15 p.53 by Darren Kane about the administration of Rugby League in Australia……

“The lunatic is on the grass

The lunatic is on the grass

Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs

Got to keep the loonies on the path

‘Brain Damage’ – Pink Floyd

Brain Damage. Second-to-none song on Pink Floyd’s seminal 1973 work Dark Side of the Moon. A meditation on the odiousness of mental disintegration.

Brain Damage. The lyric, maniacal laughter that rounds out the song’s haunting spectral. But where is the real madness? Decades later, Roger Waters suggested the true lunacy rested not inside the “lunatic “ imagining days of daisy chains, but in keeping the loonies confined to the path. Esoteric stuff. Little wonder the Floyd hit splitsville long ago.

Madness: a disordered mind. Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?”

NUFF SAID

Poor testucators everywhere…..grasping for reasons to keep their stupidities on the path to ???

________________________________________

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

My epiphany moment

PLEASE SEND TO A TEACHER WHO MIGHT BE UNSURE OR NOT CARE MUCH.

Don’t forget your local pollies.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

My Epiphany Moment

11849317_1160804897279886_907336653_nI used to blanket test all the kids in the school as we principals were obliged to do–each month or period or term.

I was a real test-freak….I went further than most… did weekly tests in Arithmetic and English Grammar almost constantly. Thinking that they were diagnostic, I’d even make judgements about the results. Silly stuff.

Crying at test time

One day a brilliant little Year 2 only got 3 out of 5 for my Notation test. She started to cry as this little girl is doing.

Mail AttachmentThrough her tears, while the scores were being recorded, she started to read a book that had been set for Year 10. High school !? What’s going on? Something stupid, for sure!

Image result for epiphany moment

I started to think. I didn’t take on this job to use curriculum material to make kids cry!
images
Am I evaluating or teaching or damaging an outstanding intellect? WHAT am I doing?

The answer was obvious. I walked out of the classroom and never gave another such test. I decided to sort out my thoughts as to the differences between terms like that.

When the mass assault on children’s intellect began in 2008, with the child-abusive, morally bankrupt, corporate NAPLAN photo-source-unkown-forwarded-from-charles-a-e-brandt_thumbtesting, here was a serious mission to be undertaken on behalf of kids. Parents and teachers had been silenced, principals hoodwinked. Children were the victims. Serious stuff.

The teaching and learning world that I had envisioned had been sidetracked. My dreams of unleashed school learning and achieving had been shattered.

Professional ethics had disappeared, most adults didn’t care, teacher opinion was ignored and parents were deceived. Kids needed the voices of professional school educators, but the power of corporate greed has been overwhelming.

Schooling-ignorant data miners have now had long enough. Their damage to Australia’s cognitive capital has been monumental. This school generation does not deserve it.

How do I feel now after all these years? Sad. Very, very sad. Still optimistic.

And…..at times…..

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

The King Has Abdicated

An oversized, ugly, brutal giant called Naplan walked into a bar with a toad on his head.
The surprised barman asked, “Where did you get that thing from?”
The toad replied. “ I dunno. It just started off as a wart on my backside.”

The King Has Abdicated

“I am no longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational measurement.”If ever there was a giant amongst educational measurers of the world, it is Gene Glass, Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The seminal mega-research of Glass and Smith into ‘Class Size’ is a study to which any studious commentator refers if ever he or she mentions anything about the efficacy of class size on child learnings. It had an enormous impact on world discussion about class size.

His leadership during the 1970’s Minimal Competency Testing movement was profound. The application of the most misused and misapplied concept of competency aka basics in American history, resulted in state authorities and school districts wondering what schools could do about it. The foolish thought that testing would encourage school pupils to perform better. They used local tests and the SAT : Student Aptitude Test as measures.
Glass described the movement as one would describe NAPLAN : ‘the case of fruitless use of an analogous concept – the minimum lethal dose’ ; ‘bad logic and worse psychology’ ; ‘a return to Payment by Results, abandoned by the British over one hundred years ago’ ‘has nothing to do with science and technology; not with psychology, not with measurement. It has to do with politics’ ; ‘the business of failing students’.Why would such a giant of the measurement profession ‘no longer feel comfortable ‘ with the American version of NAPLAN testing? Without a doubt, the world’s leading measurer for endless years, Gene Glass has been ‘slowly withdrawing his intellectual commitment to the field of measurement’ and has even asked his University to shift him from its measurement program. In the field of education, this decision represents a greater comment on prevailing educational circumstances than King Edward VIII’s did for regal circumstances; or if one of highest test performing schools in the country decided to drop NAPLAN and HSC contests from its curriculum ….that sort of thing.

This is monumental.

It says so much that ought to have an impact on the principles of schooling and the place of measurment in it.He once said, “I favour competence, I prefer classrooms where teachers know where they’re aiming. Sloth is as unattractive to me in children as it is in grown-ups. Bad writing stinks; it’s as ugly as litter. And bad arithmetic is pathetic, and sometimes unfair. But I don’t like the MCM {aka NAPLAN [Aus.]}. It’s bad psychology; it’s bad measurement; it’s bad thinking. It threatens to subjugate what’s easily measured to what isn’t. It is rooted in the fiction that we know what skills in school insure success in life.”

You must read….. “Why I am No Longer a Measurement Specialist”

Onya, Gene Glass. God bless you.

 

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

I once visited Professor Glass at Boulder. The Ahern Inquiry into Education in Queensland was in full swing, and , as Chairman of the Queensland Primary Curriculum Committee, I wanted to find out as much as I could about Minimal Competence Testing in the United States. Small world, Dr. Barry McGraw whom I knew, then at Murdoch Uni., was visiting Professor Glass to find out more about measurement. Dr McGraw later became Julia Gillard’s captain’s pick to lead ACARA and apply NAPLAN, based on Klein’s New York model, to Australian schools. How about that? Ironic?

Principals with principles

 Aussie Friends of Treehorn
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .
PRINCIPALS WITH PRINCIPLES

It must be difficult for a 2015 school principal with principle these days….to conduct curriculum activities using the best of what is known about learning within an institutionalised context, and also coping every day with the demands of a political whim that actually impairs cognitive development of school children.  The 2008 whim was based on a belief, held more by significant politicians of the time than by any other sector,  that school children learn best when the school climate  is one of heavy rigour and driven by fear of testing results.  So, there is an extraordinary amount of school time nowadays that concentrates on measuring parts of schooling that only testing experts,  employed by such politicians  believe should be taught and tested. Principals are stuck with organising a byzantine system of control that keeps pupils and teachers  in line; and parents in the dark.

As Professor Costa [Calif.StateUni.] states : “What was educationally significant and hard to measure has been replaced by what is educationally insignificant and easy to measure. So now we measure how well we taught what isn’t worth learning.”    School principals with principles are expected to maintain this farce and are expected to hoodwink the public  on the virtues of running schools based on the whims of teaching-inexperienced measurers employed somewhere else.  The logic that teaching a child how to fill in the right bubbles on a piece of paper somehow helps the child to read better, calculate more accurately and develop profoundly in other critical literacy and numeracy skills is twisted logic. It is the kind of logic that a full generation of wise school leaders have had to tolerate.
Many educators believe that the use of such data to make judgements about schools is a sneaky, dishonest  scheme to privatise Australian schools, to undermine Gonski recommendations and to maintain the flow of money to testucating, publishing and computer programming corporations.
It’s a real dilemma for principals with principles. The forces that have no regard for children’s feelings nor parental concerns are very powerful. While a self-respecting principal can call upon his or her professional ethics to deny access to his or her classrooms, it’s a very brave thing to do under the existing political, totalitarian-based regimes since 2008. The hubristic arrogance of lawyer-trained Ministers has been and is so overpowering.  It’s possible only for  principled principals to reform as an ethical, professional group. Even then, they need to be strong to protect school children the way they should be protected.
Sometimes, chances come at Conference time for large organisations which principals and teachers subscribe to, at great expense. No free rides. The really productive ones are those run by subject associations but,  during the coming month or so, there is a number of conferences with highbrow connections:
Australian Council for Educational Leadership –Sydney – “Setting the Learning Agenda. Courage and Commitment to Lead”. [ The title suggests that the likes of NAPLAN, Direct Instruction etc. might be coming to an end very soon.]
Australian Secondary Principals Association –  Attendance at ACEL Conference suggested.
Australian College of Education – Sydney – “Education on the Edge.”  [Sure is. Should be some fireworks. Methinks it’s toppled already.]
Australian Primary Principals Association – Hobart –  “The Heart of Leadership”  [In view of leadership principles involved in the dispensing of NAPLAN tests, – see above- the outcomes of this conference should be momentous.]
Australian Government Primary Principals Association – [No conference. Unsure of its place in the schooling landscape.  Allied with APPA or trods on its toes?  A CIA outpost?]
Association of  Heads of Independent Schools of Australia – Sydney– “Culture, Character, Collegiality. “  [ Jolly good.]
At such conferences, some of the most productive time is spent in rooms, bars, coffee shops and  cafes  discussing the major issues of the day or just ‘chewing the fat’ about major issues affecting Australian schools.  Under such conditions, one would imagine that principals with principles would discuss what they are going to do about NAPLAN and its control over Australian schooling. With the conversions to tablet use, this period of 2015 is super-critical for serious decision-making that can have  its foundations in sessions like these.  Indeed….It’s  time for all schooling-connected organisations to get together. As Professor Kenneth Wiltshire says, “The whole of the NAPLAN plan needs to be put on hold…” [Treehorn 3 Aug.2015] Yes. It’s serious business, that can’t be neglected.
Supposing that conferees were challenged by a comprehensive list of comments and examined them comment by comment,  about  standardised blanket testing provided by Marion Brady of The Washington Post………..
NAPLAN
– provides minimal to no useful feedback for classroom teachers;
– leads to neglect of music, art, other oral ways of learning, physical health;
– unfairly advantages those who can afford to pay for out-of-school tutoring;
– hides problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring;
– penalises test-takers who think in non-standard ways [which the young frequently do]
– radically limits teacher ability to adapt to learner differences;
– gives control of the curriculum to test-manufacturers’
– encourages use of threats, bribes, and other extrinsic motivators;
– uses arbitrary, subjectively-set pass-fail cut scores;- 
– produces scores that can be [and sometimes are] manipulated for political purposes;
– assumes that what the young will need to know in the future is already known;
– emphasises minimum achievement  to the neglect of maximum performance;
– creates unnecessary pressures to cheat;
– reduces teacher creativity and the appeal of teaching as a profession;
– lessens a concern for and use of shared evaluation techniques
– has no “success in life”  predictive  powers;
– unfairly channels instructional resources to learners at or near the pass-fail score;
– are open to massive scoring errors [as has already occurred] with life-changing consequences;
– are at odds with deep-seated ‘fair go’ Australian values about individuality and worth;
– Create unnecessary stress and negative attitudes towards learning;
– perpetuates the artificial compartmentalization of knowledge by field;
– repels a wholesome holistic attitude towards inter-discipline learning;
– channels increasing amounts of tax-money into corporate coffers and special programs instead of general classrooms;
– Wastes the vast, creative intelligence and potential of human variability;
– blocks instructional innovations that can’t be evaluated by machine;
– unduly rewards mere ability to retrieve second-hand information from memory;
– subtracts from available instruction time;
– lends itself to ‘gaming’ – use of strategies to improve the success–rate of guessing;
– makes TIME – a parameter largely unrelated to ability – a serious factor in scoring;
– creates test-fatigue, aversion to subjects and an eventual refusal to take tests seriously;
– is a monumental waste of money and time;
– destroys institutions’ reputation  and that of the profession in myriad and unsuspected ways
Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall if any group  dared to discuss some of these comments….and follow it through??
If significant teacher groups or learned societies should examine a few of these factors seriously……..it’s bye-bye NAPLAN.
When? 2015?
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com