Friday, September 13, 2019

Education review ‘like a slow-moving train wreck’: academic

Leftist teachers want an easier ride and HATE being held accountable

The latest review of NAPLAN has been labelled as a “Trojan horse” for a push to undermine independent objective testing of Australian students, which could further erode academic standards.

Australian Catholic University research fellow, Kevin Donnelly, who also co-authored the most recent major review of the national curriculum, expressed concerns that the three states behind the review were being used by forces seeking to move away from standardised testing altogether.

“The review of NAPLAN, obviously by NSW, Victoria and Queensland, is a Trojan horse that will further standards and outcomes and ensure the continued underperformance of Australian students,” Dr Donnelly said. “It’s like watching a slow-moving train wreck.”

The three states have budgeted $1 million for the review after the Council of Australian Governments Education Council knocked back NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell’s request in June for a national review.

Ms Mitchell and Victoria’s Education Minister James Merlino have both insisted that they support standardised testing, but that NAPLAN was no longer fit for purpose.

“NAPLAN has been in place since 2008, and given the ever-changing nature of the education landscape, both nationally and within states and territories, it is important we assess and consider how we can use a diagnostic test to better support our students,” Ms Mitchell said.

Dr Donnelly said that the review had coincided with a push to develop a new model for schooling, which has been enabled by the latest Gonski education review, whereby students would no longer grouped in classes according to age and where assessment would focus on improvement rather than achievement against independent benchmarks.

He likened the model to running a 100m running race, where instead of awarding medals to those who finished first, second and third, the prize went to the runner who clocked a personal best, regardless of where they finished.

Centre for Independent Studies research fellow Blaise Joseph said there was nothing wrong with the states reviewing NAPLAN so long as it didn’t duplicate the work of five previous reviews.

“For example, the public reporting of NAPLAN results and the transition to online testing have already been reviewed. It would be a waste of time and money if the review goes down this path,” Mr Joseph said.

“NAPLAN isn’t perfect. But the transparency and accountability that NAPLAN provides are absolutely vital, so the focus must be on improving the tests, rather than scrapping them altogether. If the review does this, then it could actually add value.”

Mr Joseph said the review should focus on how to improve the quality of the tests.

“In particular, the NAPLAN national minimum standards appear to be set far too low, especially when compared to international test standards. And NAPLAN can definitely be better aligned with the Australian curriculum.

“But it’s really important that in the meantime states and territories continue to work on getting better results. Reviewing how literacy and numeracy are measured is no substitute for actually improving how literacy and numeracy are taught.”

Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan called on the three states to “stop obsessing about the NAPLAN test and start obsession about the NAPLAN results”.

“Which would mean focusing on improving literacy and numeracy “.

Preliminary results from the 2019 NAPLAN tests, which were released in August, show average national student scores across most age groups and domains have barely budged since testing began more than a decade ago.

Of particular concern is that pockets of improvement observed in primary school — including Year 3 reading, spelling and grammar and Year 5 reading, spelling and numeracy — are not sustained in secondary school.


Polite Persuasion is Wasted on the Shrieking Left

Like Jordan Peterson’s reputation, Lionel Shriver’s conservative credentials were burnished by leftist idiocy. In Peterson’s case it was his interview on the UK’s Channel 4 by Cathy Newman. In Shriver’s case it was Yassmin Abdel-Magied walking out of the Brisbane Writers’ Festival in 2016 in protest at Shriver’s views on identity politics and cultural appropriation.

Neither Peterson nor Shriver are my kind of conservatives and, to be fair, I am sure they would not claim to be or would want to be. That’s fine. What I would like to say is that conservative warriors are now needed more than ever. Much less useful are prominent notables on the conservative side who come over all reasonable in the face of those intent on our destruction.

Peterson lost his standing with me when he suggested that Brett Kavanagh should first win his confirmation to the Supreme Court but then immediately resign to clear his name. That was a ridiculous suggestion, to put it extremely mildly. Clearly Peterson has no idea about the enemy we face.

I caught Shriver on Q&A last week. True, I could only stand five minutes or so before turning it off. Any longer spent watching Q&A is injurious to my peace of mind. Nevertheless, I saw enough to sense that Shriver was trying hard to appear “reasonable” to other panellists and to the usual green-leftist ABC audience. Hint for Shriver: Prostration is pointless. They’ll always despise you. Look to, say, Michelle Malkin for a role model.

Did I get a false impression of Shriver’s demeanour? I think not. The following evening I attended the Bonython Lecture in Sydney, where she explained that her engagement, front and backstage, with other Q&A panellists was civil; and, furthermore, she made a point of extolling the need for civility generally in political debate.

I want to be clear. Come the witching hour I believe I will find myself on the same side of the barricades as Peterson and Shriver. After all, where else could we be? But I would like to think that we can avoid arriving at the witching hour. And we won’t if our side is populated by those falling over themselves to be civil.

Civility is paramount among people of sound mind and goodwill. Those of the new progressive Left don’t qualify. They need to be fought, not reasoned with. Reasoning with a poisonous serpent is useless. You have to chop its head off. And, being religiously minded, I choose the metaphor of a serpent advisedly.

Go to the US to see the progressive Left at its most transparent. It’s here in Australia, in the UK and in Europe in full-enough measure, but only in America has it the chutzpah to stand in the spotlight. Anyone who caught any of CNN’s seven-hour town-hall meeting on the “climate crisis” with the top ten Democrat presidential candidates would know what I mean. They have no shame.

They tell blatant lies, like Hurricane Dorian is a product of climate change, which are easily exposed. Yet they will simply go on repeating them. It is lying in the name of saving the planet. Taqiya for Gaia. The destruction of America’s economy, and, with it, Western civilisation, is collateral damage apparently. Or is that all part of the plan? It surely must be.

Run down the list (in no particular order and without attempting to be exhaustive): the ‘green new deal’, pulling down border security, providing free health insurance to illegal immigrants, publicly funding abortion up till the moment of birth, slashing military spending, funding more and more ‘free stuff’ through greatly increased taxation (and, no doubt, through untrammelled money printing as per leftist modern monetary theory[i]), persecuting those with the temerity to practice Christian beliefs, marginalising the traditional family, insidiously siding with Palestinians over Israel, and hiking minimum wages to add to the rampant unemployment which will follow, as night follows day, from the other ruinous environmental and economic policies.

Quite simply America as we know it would cease to exist. It would be crippled. America stands between Western civilisation and the Islamic and the Chinese-communist barbarians. We would fall as other civilisations have fallen. At some point the Islamists and Chinese would turn on each other. But, by that time, we would be vassal states watching the big boys duke it out. I will go back to my start.

I am generally polite and civil, even after a few drinks. But I ask this question. How civil is it proper to be to those who espouse policies which, if ever enacted, would put our grandchildren’s lives at risk?


‘Anti-semitism’ driving far-Leftist challenge to treasurer

NSW Senator Andrew Bragg has attacked the “disgraceful challenge” against Josh Frydenberg’s eligibility to sit in parliament and said it was underpinned by “anti-semitism”.

Speaking in the Senate this afternoon under parliamentary privilege, Senator Bragg described the Section 44 legal challenge against the Treasurer as “illegitimate” and driven by “people who have an obsession with the Holocaust”.

Senator Bragg said Michael Staindl, who has launched a High Court challenge testing Mr Frydenberg’s re-election, failed Kooyong candidate Oliver Yates and lawyer Trevor Poulton — who has written a book called The Holocaust Denier — should “be ashamed of themselves for their appalling behaviour”.

“They are band together in the shadows to try and unseat the son of a Holocaust survivor,” Senator Bragg told parliament. “They are pretending that they are not working together when they clearly are. The basis for this challenge is anti-semitism.”

Senator Bragg, who said he studied genocide at university, also warned of a “rising tide of anti-semitism in Australia”.  “I believe anti-semitism is a rising problem in NSW and across Australia. Anti-semitic incidents have increased by 60 per cent in the past year. There has been extraordinarily large increases on email threats, telephone based threats, and vandalism,” he said.

Senator Bragg accused Mr Staindl, Mr Poulton and Mr Yates of being involved with an “outrageous attempt” to challenge Mr Frydenberg’s citizenship. “His mother Erica Straus fled the Holocaust and arrived in Australia from Hungary in 1950.”

Senator Bragg, who referenced the case of Jewish Liberal MP Julian Leeser who has been subject to “anti-semitic behaviour”, said Mr Yates — who claimed only 8.98 per cent of the Kooyong vote at the May 18 election — was “involved in this outrage”.

“We are proud of Jewish Australians. They have risen to the highest offices in the land. We are proud of Josh Frydenberg, he is a great Australian, and a great friend who is well regarded across this parliament. The Liberals will always call out racism.

“I call on our education sector to keep teaching the truth about the Holocaust. We cannot afford to forget. What begins with the Jews never ends with the Jews. I call on all Australia’s community and political leaders to never walk past anti-semitism or racism in any form. “Racism is a sickness of the heart and the mind, it should never be tolerated.”


Riverland grape grower feels squeeze of the water traders

But there's plenty of water to send straight out to sea for "environmental" reasons

Third-generation farmer Peter Barry has raised citrus and grapes in South Australia’s Riverland all his life, and the decision he made last week broke his heart.

He turned off irrigation water to 10 of the 100ha he farms with his wife, Mary, near Loxton, being patches of vines that produce ­cabernet sauvignon, gordo and chardonnay.

“They’ll die,” Mr Barry said, his voice quavering. “It’s quite an emotional thing because we are at the end of our tether.”

Mr Barry said he had spent $500,000 replanting in recent years, but there was just no way he could make a profit off those vines with irrigation water prices where they are, at $800 a megalitre on the spot market, compared with a long-term average of about $135 a megalitre.

“I spend $10,000 to water a section of chardonnay, and that chardonnay returns me $8000 or $9000,” he said. “I would not get a return on those patches.”

Mr Barry has some entitlements to what is known as high-security water, but needs to buy much more on the tradeable secondary market to keep his horticulture going.

Drought, the federal government buybacks of water from irrigators and large plantings of permanent crops such as almonds have all reduced the amount of tradeable water in the Murray-Darling system, and pushed up prices. Like many farmers, Mr Barry thinks there’s more than that going on, something sinister perpetrated by water investors who don’t own land and don’t grow a radish, but play the market, hoard water and, he says, push up prices.

“It’s shocking,” Mr Barry said. “People are owning this water and are just using it to make money, while we won’t make a cent.  “We are at the beck and call of investment companies.”

With water prices as they are, many cotton farmers are just not putting in a crop, and some are selling their water to other farmers such as Mr Barry who have permanent crops that may die if not watered.

“He just leaves his tractor in the shed and earns a million ­dollars selling water to me,” Mr Barry said of such a cotton-grower scenario.

More tough decisions face Mr Barry.

He said he might soon have to also “turn off” young citrus trees he planted only a couple of years ago that are too young to produce fruit because he can’t afford to water anything that doesn’t produce an immediate return.

He may also have to put the two full-time employees who have worked for him for 30 years on to part-time work.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

If he wants to challenge Frydenberg then he should equally challenge Dreyfus on the Labor side. Both are completely ineligible under Section 44 as written, and no amount of waving Holocaust cards around changes that.

Then there was Danby whose behaviour while in Office illustrated perfectly the wisdom behind including Section 44.