Friday, July 10, 2009

Ms Gillard you are a dill!

Here's a link to the latest nonsense by Ms Gillard.

"It's not about raw scores," Ms Gillard said.
"We want to compare like schools - schools serving similar populations, so we can tell what difference the teaching is making."
"If you see one school going streaks ahead, that means there is great practice there we should be sharing.
"And if you see one school that is falling way behind, that means we should be doing something about that school because it is under performing and it can do better."

Ms Gillard - teaching is not the only factor in performance. Shall we also grade community support, funding, parent capability, parent education, family income, proportion of single parents, strong administrative leadership and support, an interactive P&C, effective behaviour management policy. It is not just teaching that makes a school good and these factors cannot be graded in simplistic socio-economic indicators.

So.. do we just teach to the test to gain good results and forget about whole student needs? If a student is not academic, do we give them the weakest teachers and reserve our finest teachers for those that bring academic results? Do we pander to teachers that only will stay if they get certain classes? Will the tables measure actual progress or focus on academic performance (if they do measure progress will they use NAPLAN/WALNA and ignore the basic timing issues that occur in low socio-economic schools?).

So I ask again.. what purpose does this have in being released to the public? To remind parents that the school they are sending their child to is not as good as the elite schools in the Western suburbs or the G&T schools in the state school system?

If we are only looking for improvement - release league tables to staffing and strategic planning. After all it is these two parts of DET that need the information. By releasing this information to parents you are seriously hindering reform in troubled schools. The students that the school needs most to benefit from reform just won't come.

If you want to release this information - do so when schools are well funded and outperforming private schools. To do it now after years of underfunding in the system and poor curriculum support is inappropriate. Unless of course the agenda is to close schools and sell assets. After all education is the single biggest burden on government (and the single biggest eliminator of class difference as we are all entitled to a good education).

It is just another teacher bashing that is on the way, with primitive statistical analysis used to try and correct schools in political time frames inappropriate to education.

I heard a suggestion that we should create league tables for politicians.. Promises vs actual over the past 10 years. Set up league tables for local pollies on how often they are seen and how many members of the public they have spoken to outside of polling times. Identify how many times they have spoken in parliament and made a contribution to government (as opposed to oppositional backbiting). How many times they have been seen doing stupid things in public. Then we could re-release this information at polling time.

Education has no place in politics and league tables are just nonsense, aimed to appeal to naive voters. I'd like to meet a person in education that thinks league tables are a good idea.

Only the best possible education for all our children is what matters. The rich should not be the only ones with access to the finest education. Education is the most valuable privilege in Australia and it is our way to ensure that all in Australia feel Australian and have an opportunity to succeed, regardless of race, religion, sex or any other demographic you care to mention.

.. and that's the way it should stay.

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