Uniquely Australian Mimicry

Tuesday February 2, 2010

Julia Gillard: The model that we have developed here is uniquely Australian. Yes, we’ve looked at the world experience but we haven’t mimicked any other model.

Just days after the launch of the My School website and the construction of league tables in various newspapers from the data on the website, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard issued a joint statement (January 31, 2010) outlining plans to expand the information it contains.

Specifically, they gave notice of the government’s intention to survey parental “satisfaction with schools with the survey results to be disclosed on My School”.

They indicated that the survey could “canvass the ethos of the school and those issues that matter to parents” and highlighted four possible focus areas:

  • Issues of bullying and school safety
  • How the school works with the community and communicates with parents
  • Approaches to teaching and learning
  • How the school manages transitions (to high school, post school options etc).

The concept of a parental satisfaction survey is embedded in the practice of the New York City school system under Chancellor Joel Klein, Gillard’s inspiration and mentor.

NYC actually surveys students, parents and teachers separately and collates their responses into a “School Environment” mark out of 15. This is added to the school’s mark for “Student Performance” (out of 30) and the school’s mark for Student Progress (out of 55) for a total mark out of 100, which is then converted into a grade in the ranges A-D and F and published on an annual school Progress Report.

When Gillard met with Klein straight after the election of the ALP, his advice to her was that the critical first step was to publish school performance information. “That becomes the basis for all the other things,” he told the ABC’s Monica Attard in 2008.

In the meantime, Klein’s regime has suffered major blows to its credibility. Gillard has faced repeated questioning about why the Australian government is so hell bent on copying failed New York and English practices in respect of testing, public comparison of schools, and league tables. Hence her assertion that she and Rudd have constructed something in the My School website that is “uniquely Australian’.

But like the ghost of Christmas past, no sooner are school NAPLAN results made public than an absolute cornerstone of the Klein claptrap is announced as new policy for expanding My School and “further empowering parents”.

Here is a link to the New York City parental satisfaction survey as a taste of things to come

Expanding the My School website with a parental satisfaction survey is about as “uniquely Australian” as trick or treating for Halloween…and certainly more trick than treat for public education.

Mike Williss
Research Officer
Australian Education Union, South Australia

1. See: http://newsaveourschools.com.au/league-tables/new-york-citys-bogus-school-results and http://newsaveourschools.com.au/league-tables/the-new-york-fraud

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