Gillard Should Repudiate Klein’s Skulduggery

Julia Gillard has invited New York Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein, to Australia to counter widespread criticism of the Rudd Government’s policy on reporting individual school performance. She wants Klein to help clear the ground for her to introduce school performance reports similar to those used in New York.

She should know that the Klein’s reporting model is widely derided by educationalists, teachers and parents in New York. She should also know that Klein’s response to their criticisms involves much skulduggery which she should repudiate.

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School Accountability Discredited in New York

Conservative educationalist, Diane Ravitch, is at it again – highlighting the failures of the New York City school accountability model which Julia Gillard wants to emulate in Australia. Her latest burst is that New York grading system of schools is “absurd” and is making “a mockery of the meaning of ‘accountability ”.

Ravitch has been an advocate of improving school accountability in the past, but she thinks the New York system is a total disaster. She has previously called the New York’s school reporting system “inherently unreliable”, “dubious” and produces “bizarre results”. She has said that New York officials, under the Schools Chancellor so admired by Julia Gillard, may be dispensing false data to parents, scaring them needlessly about their children’s school and destabilizing schools and communities.

It is clear that Julia Gillard and her education advisors have failed the basic competency test. They failed to properly investigate and assess the New York model before they began to spruik it. Continue reading “School Accountability Discredited in New York”

More Questions Raised About the New York School Reporting Model

More questions are being raised about the validity and reliability of the New York system of reporting school performance, which Julia Gillard wants to introduce in Australian schools.

Last week, report cards for New York City elementary and middle schools were released for 2007-08. They show huge variations from the previous year and significant inconsistencies with other test results. Continue reading “More Questions Raised About the New York School Reporting Model”

ALP Education Policy is an Admission of Failure

The education policy announced by the ALP this week is an admission of Government failure in education over the past 7 years. The Government has suddenly discovered the huge achievement gap in the ACT, despite criticising Save Our Schools for raising this in the past.

The Government is clearly running scared about education as an election issue. It is desperately trying to gloss over its legacy of failure in school education.

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Gillard’s School Reporting Model is a Triumph of Ideology over Evidence

The Rudd Government’s “education revolution” is looking more and more like an extension of the Howard Government’s school policies. All the same elements are there – choice and competition, reliance on markets, and now public reporting of school results. Continue reading “Gillard’s School Reporting Model is a Triumph of Ideology over Evidence”

Choice or Equity in Education?

This paper, by Trevor Cobbold, was delivered to the Education Summit in Sydney in June 2008.

It argues that choice has failed the promise of its advocates to improve education outcomes and that it has not only deflected education systems from dealing with the major challenge of inequity in education, but has exacerbated inequity. Continue reading “Choice or Equity in Education?”

Do Smaller Classes Make a Difference and is it Cost Effective?

The Liberal Party proposal to reduce class sizes from about 30 to 21 in Years 4-6 in government schools will be popularly received. Reducing class sizes is one of the very few education policies that are widely endorsed by teachers and parents.

The Opposition is to be congratulated for committing a large funding increase for government schools. However, across the board reductions in class sizes are expensive and there are more cost effective ways to improve student outcomes.

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More Meaningless Rhetoric on Community Consultation

The Chief Minister’s proposals for the reform of community consultation processes in the ACT amount to more meaningless rhetoric from a Government under pressure.

The Chief Minister is only promising superficial change, not real change. All he has done is to serve up more bureaucratic drivel that fails to deal with the key failures in community consultation.

The big failure of the Stanhope Govt on community consultation has been its use of sham consultations to get a pre-determined outcome. This is what it did in the case of the W. Belconnen super-school and the school closure program. It had made up its mind before the consultations began.

What the Chief Minister has to do to make real change is to commit to full open consultations processes, not sham consultations.

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Govt. is in a Dither over Closed School Sites

The ACT Government is in a complete dither about what to do with the closed school sites. On the one hand, it has a report from Purdon Associates that says “sell, sell, sell”. However, the problem for the Government is that the report also reveals strong community opposition to selling off school buildings and ‘green space’.

There is a stark contrast between the recommendations of the Purdon’s report and the outcomes of the consultation it conducted with regional and local communities last year. The report recommended partial or full re-development of each closed school site (except Hall and Tharwa), while retaining some parts for community use.

It also found that there is a strong community preference for the buildings and grounds to be retained for community use. There was very limited community support for re-development of the sites.

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Minister for Education Disowns Budget Figures

At the Budget Estimates hearings last week on education, the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, effectively disowned the Chief Minister’s budget figures. The Minister resorted to producing ‘rubbery’ figures not reported in the Budget Papers in order to give the appearance of a real increase in government school funding for 2008-09.

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