The following is a letter by a member of the Stop Shepparton Super-School group in response to a refusal by the local Independent MP, Suzanna Sheed, to discuss the super-school proposal.
The Executive Committee of Save Our Schools No Transition in Shepparton has been trying for months to obtain a meeting with our local Independent MP, Suzanna Sheed, in order to present to her the reasons and concerns of members of the community that are against having one huge super school in Shepparton with no choice for schooling and poor communication about its planning.
We have been aggressively refused a meeting with Ms. Sheed. She needs to remember that she was elected to represent her constituents.
The Stop Shepparton Super-School group will hold a rally on Friday 4th October at 11.30am to protest against the merger of four secondary schools in Shepparton/Mooroopna.
The march will assemble at Suzanna Sheed’s office where we will try to present letters from the public to her again, then march down Wyndham Street to Queens Gardens and Wendy Lovell’s office where we will call on her to receive letters. There will be speakers and information for the public.
We have been fighting
hard for over six months to have our voice heard on the merger of four Greater
Shepparton secondary schools into one school of 2,700 to 3,000 students. We
have met a stony wall of silence. We have been told ‘You need to get on board
for your children’s sake, during this difficult time of transition.’ Frankly,
if one more educator, politician or mayor says that sentence again, we might
The decision to
amalgamate the four schools was made during September/October in 2017. The
so-called ‘community consultation’ involved only an online survey and two
workshops held in Mooroopna and Shepparton on the same day, that families of
secondary students could attend. The consultation was not advertised either in
time or adequately for parents to take part in.
The following is an open letter to Victorian politicians and education department officials from a member of the Shepparton community.
I am concerned about the lack of evidence to back the Victorian Education Department’s claims that the super school is the best option for education in Shepparton. Studies have shown that large schools do not improve academic outcomes and small schools perform better in academic outcomes, discipline, mental health and safety. In the USA and UK large schools have been made into smaller ones. Studies show smaller schools graduate a larger proportion of their students than do large schools. Schools with populations of diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds should be limited to 600 or fewer students. Schools with advantaged students should be capped at about 1000 students.
Finland has been in the spotlight of the education
world since it appeared, against all odds, on the top of the rankings of an
international test known as PISA, the Program for
International Student Assessment, in the early 2000s. Tens of thousands
visitors have traveled to the country to see how to improve their own schools.
Hundreds of articles have been written to explain why Finnish education is so
marvelous — or sometimes that it isn’t. Millions of tweets have been shared and
read, often leading to debates about the real nature of Finland’s schools and
about teaching and learning there.
We have learned a lot about why some education
systems — such as Alberta, Ontario, Japan and Finland — perform better year
after year than others in terms of quality and equity of student outcomes. We
also understand now better why some other education systems — for example,
England, Australia, the United States and Sweden — have not been able to
improve their school systems regardless of politicians’ promises, large-scale
reforms and truckloads of money spent on haphazard efforts to change schools
during the past two decades.
Most policymakers, researchers, and parents believe
that good teachers and teaching are the keys to school improvement yet these
very same folks know little about how teachers teach daily. And that is the
rub. Good teachers and teaching are the agreed-upon policy solutions to both
high- and low-performing students yet reliable knowledge of how most teachers
teach and what are the best ways of teaching in either affluent or low-income,
minority schools are absent among policymakers, researchers, and parents.
How do most teachers teach?
The short answer is that teachers draw from two
traditions of teaching.
As researchers who study school choice and education policy, we see a new consensus
emerging — including in pro-voucher advocates’ own studies — that vouchers are
having mostly no effects or negative effects on student
learning. As a result, we see a shift in how voucher proponents are redefining
what voucher success represents. They are using a new set of non-academic gains
that were not the primary argument to promote vouchers.
The following is a summary of a new report from the Learning Policy Institute in the United States on school finance reform. It reviews reforms by four US states to undertake progressive school funding strategies in order to substantially improve learning opportunities for all students. It provides recommendations for federal and state policies to address funding inequalities that contribute to the cycle of poverty. It shows that money matters when it comes to improving schools and that how money is spent is critical.
US Presidential contender, Senator Bernie Sanders, has released a far-reaching program to reform public education. Many of its policies resonate in the Australian context. The following is the Introduction to the plan together with an outline of its main policies.
His first principle is fundamental:
“Every human being has the fundamental right to a good education. On this 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, we are committed to creating an education system that works for all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.”
In her profound and provocative book about the community
impact of Chicago’s closure of 50 so-called “underutilized” public schools at
the end of the 2013 school year, Eve Ewing considers the effect of school
closures on the neighborhoods they once anchored. Ewing’s book, Ghosts in the Schoolyard, is
about Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and a set of school closures in
Chicago in which 88 percent of the affected students were African American, and
71 percent of the closed schools had majority-African American teachers.
(Ghosts in the Schoolyard, p. 5)