Thursday, February 06, 2014

Leftists wail at losing their grip on the young

THE vicious attacks on the expert chosen by Christopher Pyne to review the national education curriculum show just how much is at stake for the cultural revolutionaries dumbing down our schools.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is their worst nightmare, appointed to snatch the curriculum back from the brink of disaster.

For his trouble he has been falsely branded a paedophile, Islamophobe, homophobe, misogynist and Christian.

In the sewers of Twitter, people have wished him dead and asked him for his opinion on vibrators.

Among his and Queensland academic Ken Wiltshire’s tasks is to decide whether the three priorities of the new curriculum - sustainability, indigenous history and culture and Asian engagement - make any sense.

Absurdly, even in maths the curriculum claims “sustainability provides rich, engaging and authentic contexts for developing students’ abilities in number and algebra”.

Good grief. Pyne has rightly queried this politically correct attempt at brainwashing. He ought to rip the curriculum to shreds, but he is taking the gentle approach.

Clear-thinking Donnelly is the perfect choice. An unabashed critic of moral relativism, he wants education to be about “objectivity and truth”. He believes students should understand the foundations of Western civilisation and Australia’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

He thinks academic rigour and phonics and even - shock, horror - rote learning might be a good thing.

He is against the fashion of students “constructing” their own knowledge.

When university students need remedial reading classes, he knows something is wrong.

“The penny has dropped that what we are doing isn’t working well enough,” Donnelly told me. “In terms of falling standards something has to be done.”

Most parents would agree but the Marxist teacher unions are beside themselves, trawling around for something, anything, to discredit him.

The latest ploy was a story this week claiming Donnelly is homophobic because he once wrote, in his 2004 book Why Our Schools Are Failing, that teachers should not push leftist propaganda on gender and sexuality.

Donnelly criticised Australian Education Union policy that “homosexuality and bisexuality need to be normalised” in the classroom and “heterosexism” (the idea that heterosexuality is the norm) must be stamped out.

He cited the example that Cinderella and Romeo And Juliet are “condemned as heterosexist because they privilege traditional views about heterosexual love”.

Essentially, Donnelly’s view was that sex education is a sensitive and controversial topic and that parents have the right to know what is happening in the classroom.

The AEU seized the bogus story as “yet another reason why Kevin Donnelly shouldn’t be anywhere near a curriculum review”.

Others on Twitter claimed he would “rather have our youth committing suicide than be educated … If Kevin Donnelly comes anywhere near my children I can’t be held fully accountable for my actions. What a creep.”

The denizens of Twitter take their lead from the bile emanating from the education establishment, unions and academics who have presided over falling standards.

Worst was former NSW education director-general Ken Boston, who took to ABC radio last month with an extraordinarily unhinged tirade: “Kevin Donnelly is a polemicist. He’s not taken seriously. He doesn’t engage with reasoned argument or evidence. His views, or rantings frankly, are well-known and have been disregarded for many years. His publications are regarded as specious nonsense.”

And on and on he went for five minutes. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Donnelly could hardly be better qualified. He holds a master’s of education and a PhD on school curriculum, was on the panel of examiners for Year 12 English in Victoria and the Board of Studies.

He also was a secondary school teacher for 18 years. He is a thoughtful man who has devoted his life to education.

Boston, on the other hand, has a doctorate in “coastal morphology”. The 70-year-old devoted himself to the study of saltmarsh grasses into his 30s when he changed careers to become an education bureaucrat in Ballarat. Remarkably, he rose to the top of the NSW Education Department and landed a plum job in London as chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority but left in 2008 in a national fiasco over school tests. London’s conservative Daily Telegraph said that during Boston’s six years at the authority it “presided over the dumbing down of the curriculum, a decline in the rigour of tests and hyper-inflation in the results”.

He is hardly in a position to criticise Donnelly.

But all the vitriol is like water off a duck’s back to Pyne. The more the Left criticises Donnelly, the more he knows he’s on to a good thing. For our children’s sake, let’s hope its not too late.


Taming the rogue building unions

New reports claim that union officials in the building and construction industry are being bribed by corrupt companies to help them secure lucrative contracts. Allegations of corruption, however, are nothing new.

Following allegations of widespread criminal activity in the building and construction industry in the early 2000s, the Howard government set up the Cole Royal Commission (2001 - 2003) to shed light on the degree of lawlessness in the industry.

Although the commission did not find definitive evidence of criminal activity, it did find that the industry was characterised by widespread disrespect for the rule of law. In terms of the unions, the commission found widespread illegal strike action, right-of-entry abuse, pattern bargaining, abuse of OH&S laws (covert strike action) and intimidation tactics.

But there were also plenty of problems on the employer side - unsafe work practices, intimidation tactics, underpayment of wages and conditions, and sham contracting.

In response to the Cole Commission, the Howard government rightfully set up the Australian Building and Construction Commission to undertake ongoing investigations in the industry.

Instead of another Cole Commission, the government should, together with the opposition (and maybe even the Greens), restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission's powers, which Labor watered down in 2012.

Labor's changes stopped the regulator from prosecuting parties in cases where the parties had settled or discontinued the matter, meaning unions or companies could intimidate and coerce each other to force financially crippling settlements, without fear of retribution from the regulator.

One of the most important changes was to reduce the maximum penalties for industrial law breaches: from $22,000 to $6,600 for individuals, and from $110,000 to $33,000 for organisations.

If penalties for IR breaches are not sufficiently large, there is no effective deterrent. Penalties as low as $33,000 are chump change for major construction companies or the CFMEU, for example.

The government should go one step further and remove any cap on maximum penalties. The commission could then apply whatever fine they deem appropriate for the case at hand.


NBN in focus ahead of Malcolm Turnbull's arrival in Griffith

The National Broadband Network has become the focus of the Griffith byelection campaign ahead of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's arrival in the electorate.

Labor candidate Terri Butler and shadow communications spokesman Jason Clare campaigned in Griffith on Tuesday morning, with the NBN firmly on their agenda.

But Liberal National Party candidate Bill Glasson insisted Griffith residents would not be worse off under the Coalition's plan, which would remain in place whoever won Saturday's byelection.

Ms Butler said all homes and businesses would have received the NBN within the next three years had Labor won the 2013 general election.

The Labor Party, led by former Griffith MP Kevin Rudd, convincingly lost the election to the Tony Abbott-led Coalition, which won 90 seats to the ALP's 55, including the now-vacant seat of Griffith.

“Griffith is a growing area, with many local businesses reliant on access to high speed, quality broadband, and this access also impacts on the value of people's properties and on where people choose to live in the electorate,” Ms Butler said.

“Under Labor, all of Griffith would have received the NBN, but under the LNP that won't happen.”

Despite the Abbott government's unassailable lead in Federal Parliament, Mr Clare said there was a “lot at stake” in Saturday's byelection for Griffith voters keen on faster broadband.

Mr Clare said the Coalition's NBN was a “second rate copper network that is nothing more than a pale imitation” of Labor's scheme.

In a question and answer session with Brisbane Times readers on Tuesday, Dr Glasson said Griffith voters would be well served by the Coalition's version of the NBN.

“We have a coalition NBN plan which aims to deliver fit for purpose outcomes to meet the data needs of whatever facility we are aiming to service,” he said.

“We will certainly deliver fibre to our businesses, hospitals, schools, government agencies etc and in terms of the home we will have fibre to the node (the box in front of your house) and with this we can deliver up to 50 megabits per second or higher.

“This will be delivered two years earlier and $27 billion less in cost than the proposed Labor plan.”

Dr Glasson was an “NBN champion” – a voluntary position for high-stature people to promote Labor's NBN – prior to his preselection as an LNP candidate.

Mr Turnbull, whose portfolio puts him in charge of the NBN, will arrive in Brisbane on Tuesday night to assist Dr Glasson's campaign in Griffith.

Mr Turnbull and Dr Glasson have a scheduled stop at the Carindale Westfield Shopping Centre on Wednesday morning.

Both Dr Glasson and Ms Butler will take part in a candidates’ forum at Davies Park, West End, on Wednesday night, along with eight of the other nine candidates.

The other candidates expected to be in attendance are Geoff Ebbs (Greens), Ray Sawyer (Katter's Australia Party), Christopher Williams (Family First), Timothy Lawrence (Stable Population Party), Melanie Thomas (Pirate Party), Anne Reid (Secular Party) and independents Travis Windsor and Karel Boele.


Black privilege AND Muslim privilege mean you can do no wrong

What is it with footballers of all codes? Rugby League star Blake Furguson, after repeated other offences, has been found guilty of groping a woman’s breasts in a Cronulla nightclub. CCTV evidence shows him also forcing his hand up her dress and grabbing her front bottom while she struggles to free herself from the oaf.

Crumbs, tennis players and golfers don’t do this sort of thing, do they?

That sort of unprovoked sexual assault has to be worth at least a couple of years in the brig, right? Wrong! Magistrate Jacqueline Trad handed him a two-year good behaviour bond instead.

Furguson’s gobsmacked lawyer, Adam Houda claimed, “We are not happy with this. We will appeal this in a superior court.” What are we not happy with, Mr Houda? The guilty finding, the feathered penalty, or is this sort of sexual assault justified?

Of course media has not commented on the case, other than to report it, for good reason. (Just ask Andrew Bolt.) You see Mr Furguson is an Aborigine and blame has instead been heaped upon the Raiders’ football club for not “taking care” of him.

Maybe I’m old school, because if I had snuck even a kiss from someone I didn’t know I’d reckon I was doin’ okay. Even then I would have been quite prepared to cop a smack in the face in return for trying.

What makes an adult male believe he has the right to molest a female?

What the hell gets into a bloke’s head that convinces him to sexually abuse a woman minding her own business?

Does Mr Furguson believe women have no rights, does he believe they are mere chattels for his crass entertainment?

Then it all became clear, you see his cousin and mentor Anthony Mundine had convinced him to convert to Islam.


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