Education watch

Julia Gillard on ABC has trouble convincing Lyndal Curtis the the ALP education policy is original.
LYNDAL CURTIS: But you're introducing the same element of compulsion that the Howard government proposed on transparency. JULIA GILLARD: No, we're introducing a very different system. And the important difference, the most important difference to understand is this. The Howard government went to State and Territory Governments and said, we want transparency in order to hold you up to public ridicule and to play a political blame game. We want transparency to help batter Labor Governments around the country.
A few points, Julia 1 The Howard government didn't say that, 2. It wasn't their intent, and 3 They were trying to do what you say you are trying to do. There is no question that what Rudd and Gillard are trying to do has some merit, as most Coalition policies have merit, but the telling point is will the states and territories roll over for the Feds? The local ALP boys run the education systems and the teacher's unions and members are a part of their power base thus it'll take a lot of beating over their respective heads with baseball bats before they come to the party. Transparency is not a natural policy of the Left and the Left lead the state's debate on education. Once again, just because Rudd has said it will happen, that it is his plan, doesn't make it so. Good idea, good luck!

One comment

  • Kev
    This initiative may have merit as a concept, but as a teacher for forty years and a school principal for twenty, I harbour some strong opinions about “transparency”, none of which have anything to do with politics or unions. So forgive me if I rant a little.
    The devil is in the detail and the implementation. If it is planned as an educational innovation with and by professional educators and parent bodies, it’s likely to actually make a difference. If it’s playing politics (as I suspect) it will have a negative effect.
    My direct experience with the recent Howard initiative relates to reporting. One of the few elements of the Howard plan accepted by the states related to standardized reporting. The feds demanded that all reporting be on a scale of 1 to 5 (or A to E) against set standard criteria. For most kids this is a positive move and works well.
    For the 3% to 5% of students with disabilities, comparison with age cohorts is completely nonsensical, and has a negative result. Imagine if one of your offspring has a severe disability, and because of Cerebral Palsy, or Intellectual Impairment, would never get a mark better than “E” or “5”. Imagine how that would make you feel as a parent, or what it would do to your self-image as a student with a disability.
    This should have been relatively easy to overcome, by introducing the concept of “distance traveled” for these kids – in other words setting up a skills inventory and measuring progress along this inventory. This was clearly understood by parents, kept schools and teachers honest, and preserved the self-image of the kids. Before the feds got involved, we had pioneered this concept in my school, and were recognised for it. Our skills inventory was published and we sold the rights to other special schools and units.
    This all finished last year, as the money doesn’t come unless the standardized reporting format is used, and Queensland rolled over as did all the other states. I’m glad I’ve retired, as I would have had a major barney with my regional director had I still been in harness. The professional body involved (ASEAQ) is still trying to develop some kind of reasonable compromise with EQ, but to no avail after about twelve months of the “argy-bargy” that Rudd has talked about.
    So this is only an issue for a small group of kids – but for them and their families it’s important. They’ve been completely steamrolled, and that is how the game is played once it gets into the political domain. This strong-arm stuff will be applied across the board as ideological dogma if this goes through in the way that it has in the UK (for example) and the results will be as disastrous.
    Let common sense prevail, and involve the parents, and teachers in the implementation of this, otherwise it will be a disaster, and the teacher attrition rate (two out of three graduate teachers don’t make it to three years in the classroom after graduation) will continue to increase.