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This posting comes from Phil Cullen in Australia, whose blog is The Treehorn Express. You will see some familiar names, like Rupert Murdoch, who is a media baron in Australia, and Joel Klein, who was Murdoch’s favorite education expert. As Phil Cullen explains on his blog: Treehorn is the hero of an easy-to-read children’s book: “The Shrinking of Treehorn” by Florence Heidi Parry. It clearly illustrates the disregard that adults demonstrate towards children at school. Treehorn’s principal and his teacher, even his parents give him ‘short shrift’.
NAPLAN is Australia’s national assessment, inspired by American influence. The acronym stands for National Assessment Program–Literacy and Numeracy. It is offered in years 3, 5, 7, and 9.
Hey, Phil, Australian students are fortunate. American students are tested every year in EVERY grade from 3-8 and also once in high school. Be glad you didn’t get the full dose of NCLB-Race to the Top Standardized Testing Obsession.
IT’S NAPLAN TIME
Bring out the law book.
[An essay from a Manager’s diary]
On Tuesday, May 9 NAPLAN testing will hit all Australian Children’s Factories with a ferocity that cyclone Debbie could never match. The level of destruction to Australia’s learning capital will be vast and there is no way that anyone can compensate nor be compensated for the damage. Once the natural desire to learn has been decimated, reconstruction becomes a long-long-long term effort. It’s been happening for nine years now and all of Australia must know of the damage it is causing. If we don’t, we soon will.
The sooner we get rid of it, the better. From the start of this Menticide Epidemic in 2008, when powerful political creatures arranged for the systematic destruction of Australia’s school learning culture for the sake of their pals’ financial profit, we have endured a system of schooling that brings no credit to any one of us. Our testucation nerds have instituted a schooling program that guarantees paralysis of the intellect from the first day of school, where, in some states, kids are tested before they start. We have been abusing our children’s keenness to learn with merciless abandon. Only the love and compassion of the everyday classroom teacher maintains any semblance of progress these days, but their super-efforts can never compensate adequately for the nastiness of the testucating end of town. The present generation of school attenders may never recover and the ‘fat little men will simply sit there and grin’, as Alice predicted.
This year, some testucators will be searching for modest ways to make the tests easier, in the manner that many of us reformed-testing-freaks used to do to make tests harder. The public is supposed to believe that NAPLAN is good for its children and this can only be done if the scores get better. They were shocking in 2016. Manipulation can be part of the game. For instance, there used to be statistical data available that listed which tables were more difficult than others……9+7 is much more difficult to remember than 8+4, for instance. This ‘level of difficulty’ applies to all kinds of testable items, whether it be in Maths, Science or Grammar. Teachers know this. Some are easier to handle than others for some reason. In that earlier era of testucation, we test freaks had to eat crow eventually; and reform our attitude to schooling.
If there is anything more dangerous to a country’s future than testucators, it’s an elite politician who has ‘fallen for ‘ a special kind of testucator. Julia has confessed to describing Joel Klein as her ‘pin-up boy’. You let him fool-ya, Julia, didn’tya?. Despite the appearance of her office wall on behalf of her corporatocracy who paid for Joel’s trip down under and whose photos probably adorned the rest of her wall, she envisaged a system of millions of classrooms where little Aussie darlings would sit still each day working assiduously at tables and spelling and sums and grammar and practice tests and related bumfuzzle with zest and ‘heils’ for their ultimate success at PISA. Her cuckservative fopdoodlers, those compliant conservatives whom she had cuckolded and paddocked in the bozone layer of confusion early in the piece, then attached their own fictile associations to her apron strings to strengthen their political anti-child animus. The Australian Primary Principals Association was easily moulded into one of hers; and the whole schadenfreude business was in place to her great satisfaction; and to Kevin’s, who had told her to do it; and to BSU; and to NYCity’s finances; and to Rupert; and to Amplify and co-test-manufacturers and tablet-program producers who continue to ridicule the young and sneer at their declining mental distress.
As Sir Wally said : “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.
In Orwellian terms, cynics now comment that NAPLAN is a kind of political prolefeed that keeps the proles [proletariat] in their place in case they became too knowledgeable; which is what it is doing. However, this was not her ladyship’s intention. She is of Labor background…just doing as she was told by the big end of town….a disposition maintained by present day Labor.
Treehorn has conducted a crusade for kids for some years now. It has been a daily effort and the longer it has gone, the more it is clear that the NAPLAN tragedy can be regarded as an exercise in politics rather than a reform in education. Clearly UBS, the world’s largest banking enterprise controls schooling in Australia and has done so from the outset. Its control over political behaviour is monstrous. In political terms, its history of school CONTROL is pretty clear., but largely overlooked or ignored.
1. Circa 2008, UBS instructed Kevin Rudd that it wanted something done about schooling.
2. Panicky Kevin instructed his Minister for Education to do something.
3. Minister Julia Gillard headed straight for the USA [not Finland, Singapore, New Zealand or other countries that had progressive, high achievement schooling ‘going for them’ at the time], where, after reporting to Rupert Murdoch before attending a Carnegie Foundation party, she met the controversial boss of a large New York school district, who sweet-talked her into a belief in his scheme; which was based heavily on fear….[fear of failure and disgrace for kids, fear of loss of job for teachers, fear of closure of school for parents]…and she was enthralled. It was a pure and simple FEAR-based scheme.; nothing to do with real achievement-oriented, progressive learning as in Finland and places that developed kids’ love for learning. It meant POWER. She fell for his charm. He became her ‘pin-up’ boy and, following Julia’s liaison with UBS, he and wife Nicole received a free trip down under at UBS expense where he spoke only with UBS connections. [He later called them ‘education officials’.] His Immenseness spoke of ‘enacting tranformational change’ to the UBS audience in Melbourne; of ‘reporting and grading systems’ to the chosen audience at the Press Club in Canberra and about ‘relationships between businesses and schools’ at a UBS dinner in Sydney before concluding that Australia had “…a lot of understandable concern about putting together an accountability system and transparency.”
4. So….Julia and Joel and the UBS installed his scheme. This meant that state system initiatives had to be taken over and controlled, but that was a piece of cake for our future P.M. We now have Kleinism as our national schooling system well controlled by UBS and its New York connections, who, incidentally, are making billions in the U.S. and anticipate making more in Australia following the surge in the use of tablets in Aussie schools. Their testing programs, curriculum program, learning games are ripe for the using, and the whole project is now turning to gold.
5. Psychometrics only were appointed to conduct a rigorous testing program through an organisation called ACARA. The ‘C’ stands for Curriculum, even though teaching experts were banned from appointment at the test centre.. UBS was on its way to total command.
6. In her public acknowledgment of the power of kleinism and its mightiness, which she spruiked at the special UBS dinner for Joel Klein in November 2008, Julia Gillard sought approval from her political superordinates for her scheme, quoted Rupert Murdoch who said that “thousands of children are being betrayed ” and, he added, there is “a gap between those who are getting an education and those who are not.” Strange words.
7. She thanked the large companies like Freehills and Corrs Chambers Westgarth for their support “…to the development of the program and their pro-bono contributions.” and encouraged others to consult their boards to contribute to the “partnership of leading employers.” She was in with Flynn having persuaded all the big boys that this scheme meant educational improvement. All her scheme [party?] needed was more money.
8. The Labor Party, Liberal Party and Greens all took note and decided never to examine the context of NAPLAN, its effects on schooling nor on the mental health of children [which became quite startling by 2011], nor the connection to ‘the establishment’. The Libs conducted a couple of fizzer Senate inquiries which used-up time and paper and delayed any serious examination of NAPLAN as an educational device. Not one political party has shown any interest in the plight of kids at school during the past decade nor bothered to question what is going on. They seem to be too afraid. NAPLAN has yet to be used as an election issue, which is what it should be. If any party uses it, it’s bound to be a boomer…and its banning of Naplan a clear winner….but the forces of evil…
9. The Australian Education Union voted unanimously at its January, 2010 Conference to ban NAPLAN, then suddenly changed its mind….no reason given…..and the barber kept on shaving.
10, The government took over the control of the once-doggedly-determined professional society, the Australian Primary Principals’ Association and some like organisations in case they remembered their duty of care to kids and returned to their ethical principals.
11. The Murdoch and Fairfax Press, believing that discretion is the better part of valour, have never conducted any serious ‘investigative surveys’ of the NAPLAN EFFECT ON SCHOOLING. They’d need to be brave, wouldn’t they? Even the ABC has been super-cautious as have respected journos who were once open and forthright. Things are very tight and totally controlled.
This unified pro-NAPLAN force is much too formidable for any care-for-kids campaign. Australia is stuck with a mediocre system trailing other countries by a country mile. The cock-up with its present operations does not provide parents with any promise for a reasonable future. You will know so many of them being regularly actioned…..
LAWS OF MANAGEMENT
In management terms, NAPLAN has had an obvious Cobra Effect or Rat Effect [aka Rule of Perverse Intentions] on Australia’s schooling system “…which occurs when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse as a type of unintended consequence. The term is used to illustrate the causes of incorrect stimulation in economy and politics.”
Principals associations, usually seen as the protectors of Child Rights, school standards and professional ethics were the first to fold and to illustrate, by their reactions to the reality behind known, unwarranted laws of management as applied to educational administration. These laws [see below] became unwarranted and unnnecessary replacements for the basic administration of schools that enhance the conditions of freedom and dignity for children.
Campbell’s Law clearly applies to the NAPLAN disaster and has been noticeably ignored since the outset….
The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making,
the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be
to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.
[Use of tutoring shops, extra homework, post-school classes are instances of cheating the system and corrupting the results.]
as was the Settlage Definition of a test score also ignored……’
“A mark or score on a blanket test represents an inadequate judgement
by a biased, inexperienced and variable non-schooling judge,
of the extent to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions
of an inadequate amount of material has been completed
under tense conditions that render the outcomes useless.
[Indeed! How can distant testing ever replace shared evaluation at the point of learning?]
That’s NAPLAN testing. It’s the wonder of the age that it has lasted as long as it has. The efforts of the mythmakers and their low-level, coercive, politico-totalitarian forms of control seem to have convinced a gullible public that its diagnostic credentials magically turn NAPLAN into a learning motivator and, at a cost of millions of dollars annually, kids will get smarter, quicker It is a downright furphy. Such measures of control get what they deserve: low levels of response that are just formal, bordering on rejection. The low level of teacher enthusiasm and pupil dislike for the subjects combine to produce the weak results that the hyper-political scheme deserves. Insecurity and uncertainty ensure the exposure of established credos of management…
1. Eichmann’s Plea. We do as we are told without regard to humane requirements.
2. McGregor’s Theory. Theory X is better than Theory Y. Fear, mistrust, deceit and a punitive atmosphere motivates operators better than does humanity and trust and normal ethical behaviour.
3. Stockholm Syndrome. An irrational psychological alliance [e.g. A.G.P.P.A] between captor and captured, leads to total capitulation of ethical principles by the captured.
4. Hawthorne Effect. Behaviour and mental attitudes alter, depending on the level of personal interest taken.
5. Goodharts Law. When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a measure.
6. Streisand Effect. Attempting to hide important information, like parents’ right to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to testing, sometimes has unintended consequences by increasing the number who will say ‘No’.
6. The New Stupid. A condition that occurs when excessive data, expensively gathered, is misused to draw conclusions that entice powerful politicians to make erroneous decisions.
7. The Boondoogle Effect. Doing useless, wasteful or trivial work as a consequence of The New Stupid; like wasting time on excessive practice, teaching to tests, neglecting a wholesome, holistic curriculum.
Observers of the NAPLAN debacle have noted many instances of each of these laws and their effects in action during the past few years.
The busy presence of these laws and the dark history of Australian schooling over the past decade, surely indicate that NAPLAN has nothing to do with schooling or the learning business. It is a gross, ugly political gimmick and the forces that support it are much too powerful for sad little children….like Treehorn.