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ACT teachers demand massive government secrecy and censorship to protect themselves from scrutiny

By johnboy - 15 July 2009 18

The ABC brings word of a push by the local education union to have the Government impose fines on any media outlet that has the temerity to take government information and compile it.

    Penny Gilmour from the Australian Education Union says she is still worried that newspapers could compile publicly available results and publish simplistic lists.

    “We want to make sure that the published data released to the community is the full picture and that nobody – regardless of where they’re from – the media or some other corner of our society, is able to take information and in effect skew it for their own purposes,” she said.

So in the AEU’s dream world any publisher, from blogger to News Limited, needs to send in their conclusions for pre-vetting before publication.

The implications for democracy in this country when any group of Government employees can push to have their work placed beyond scrutiny, on pain of criminal sanction, are terrifying.

Almost as scary is entrusting the education of children to “teachers” with so blinkered and self-serving agendas.

Fortunately Andrew Barr is, so far, resisting the calls for this new draconian censorship regime being proposed by teachers who should know better.

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that Andrew Barr has recently spoken at length on the need for transparency from our schools.

New Government Censorship Regime to hide schools data

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ACT teachers demand massive government secrecy and censorship to protect themselves from scrutiny
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deezagood 7:25 am 16 Jul 09

While I see both sides of this argument, as a parent, I would certainly appreciate as much information about the different schools as possible when making a school choice. Knowledge about environment, extra-curricula opportunities, parental involvement, class-size, curriculum etc… is very valuable information too, but this info is readily available at school open days or via informal networks. The schools can say ‘we value maths and science and have an excellent program’, or ‘our students get great results in maths’ but how do I know this to be true? I think it would be great to know how the different schools fare in terms of results as yet another additional piece of valuable information about the school.

As for the schools styming the exam results – well this happens already. I know that our primary school, for example, did not spend days and days preparing the kids for the recent round of NAPLAN testing; there were no practice exams; the kids sat the exams ‘cold’ as presumably intended. I also know that other schools in Canberra spent weeks and weeks running the kds through many, many practice NAPLAN exams, to ensure their kids were better prepared for the tests – and presumably those kids will do much better, based on the targetted preparation. So the ‘much-preparation’ schools will obviously come out looking better on any league tables, where our school will provide a more genuine insight into how the kids really are going. This is all information that parents need to take into account when making school choices and viewing any league tables – the schools will need to ensure that parents are aware of their own approaches to this type of testing. Frankly, I would prefer a school that uses the testing as intended – because it seems much more ethical and genuine.

That said, I would like some assurances that my kid’s school is meeting the required/averaged standards across the curriculum and if they aren’t – what they intend doing about improving things. I like to think that parents aren’t so niave that they would pull their kids out of a school because they weren’t at the top of one year’s league table and I would hope that parents take the school’s approach to the testing into account too.

grunge_hippy 10:26 pm 15 Jul 09

here here miz, couldnt have said it better myself.

again, talking out your arse johnboy. so much for riotACT being a fair and even handed account of all things in canberra.

lets play another round of bash the teachers, cos its all their fault. I think I hear ‘a current affair’ and ‘today tonight’ calling.

miz 7:55 pm 15 Jul 09

There is no point in publishing this data in the ACT until there is a unified curriculum. It might surprise people, but the ACT Dept of Ed only gives schools ‘guidelines’ and don’t actually give them a set curriculum to work with (unlike other States). This means all teachers in the ACT must spend an inordinate amount of time producing curricula. It’s ridiculous, inviting inconsistency and multiple duplication of time and effort on a vast scale all around the territory.

The sooner school based management goes, the better – when it’s gone for good, THEN ask me again if publishing comparative exam results is a good idea.

I am a parent of three school age chn, have a sister who is a high school teacher, a nephew who is a primary teacher, and am the child of two teachers. We have discussed this at length at family get togethers. It makes no sense – how exactly does releasing this data help kids learn? There is no way the data is actually going to mean anything meaningful, and is actually likely to harm schools that need resources. There are way too many variables for this kind of tool to actually reflect the teaching prowess within a subset of schools. Sure, test kids and utilise results as a tool to identify areas of academic strength or weakness, but publish? No way.

Classic example – the public villification of the 1996 Mt Druitt Year 12, solely based on their HSC results – the Daily Tele said they had all ‘failed’. However, given the well-known social circumstances of this disadvantaged area, the teachers involved had worked amazingly hard to retain those students and get them through the exams. Yet if you based teachers’ teaching ability solely on results, it could look like these were poor teachers when nothing was further from the truth.

neanderthalsis 2:03 pm 15 Jul 09

harvyk1 said :

muFasa said :

Most sane people acknowledge that you can’t believe everything in the papers.

Except for the daily tele readers who take in each word as gospal.

harvyk, you may notice that mufasa said sane people. Daily Terror readers don’t fall into that category.

harvyk1 1:13 pm 15 Jul 09

muFasa said :

Most sane people acknowledge that you can’t believe everything in the papers.

Except for the daily tele readers who take in each word as gospal.

Loose Brown 12:49 pm 15 Jul 09

Heh heh:

HEADMASTERS DROP MATHS AND ENGLISH IN RESPONSE TO LEAGUE TABLE PLAN
Students won’t leave if they can’t read how bad our teachers are says union.

I’m having fun!

nyssa76 12:48 pm 15 Jul 09

The whole thing is a load of shite.

I am not a member of the AEU and thus when they ‘strike’ (as they like to do) I will be at work still teaching.

League tables and paid performance have been done in the UK and US and fallen right on their arses.

I know several teachers on higher pay than my own who need to go back to uni and several on my own scale who should be paid more. It’s all based on who you know. There is no equity.

As for the ‘teachers who should know better’ JB, that is extremely judgmental and baseless. Let me reiterate that not all teachers agree with the AEU, whether union members or not. It is just ‘spin’ to get into the newpapers because the next EBA is up for negotiation.

muFasa 12:47 pm 15 Jul 09

At the base of it this just sounds like the Teachers Union want to take away freedom of speech…

Most sane people acknowledge that you can’t believe everything in the papers. Media outlets need to sell news, they are always going to take what they consider a ‘sexy’ story and beat it up in some way.

I also think that comparing this to Cabinet documents is a bit rich…

Loose Brown 12:45 pm 15 Jul 09

Or maybe:

TEACHERS DON’T TRUST MEDIA TO INTERPRET SCHOOL RANKING DATA
Local Headmaster: Hell, it was us who taught them literacy and statistics!

Thoroughly Smashed 12:36 pm 15 Jul 09

Bit of a false dichotomy with those poll questions don’t you think?

Loose Brown 12:33 pm 15 Jul 09

How about:

TEACHERS HALT PERFORMANCE PAY DISPUTE FOR NEW CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT PERFORMANCE PUBLISHING
Local Psychology teacher offers refresher course on resolving cognitive dissonace.

johnboy 12:05 pm 15 Jul 09

NiroZ said :

Seriously, considering how america and britian have have become ‘study only what is testable’ schools, I think we need the censorship.

After all, people censor suicide details for good reason, because it causes more suicides. Are you saying that we should uncensor that because it’s censorship?

Media outlets CHOOSE to censor suicide details. Sometimes they choose not to. That isn’t censorship.

Loose Brown 11:43 am 15 Jul 09

I’ve got a better headline:

TEACHERS CONTINUE TO RANK STUDENTS WHILST HYPOCRITICALLY DEMANDING GOVT INTERVENE IN LEAGUE TABLE PLAN
Local Ethics teacher offers refresher course to colleagues.

NiroZ 11:42 am 15 Jul 09

Seriously, considering how america and britian have have become ‘study only what is testable’ schools, I think we need the censorship.

After all, people censor suicide details for good reason, because it causes more suicides. Are you saying that we should uncensor that because it’s censorship?

GB 11:16 am 15 Jul 09

ACT BLOGGER DEMANDS ACCESS TO ALL-CAPS HEADLINES!

Tempestas 10:10 am 15 Jul 09

Johnboy are you looking for a job as a sub-editor for a News tabloid with that headline?

There is a serious issue underneath this, and that is no matter how carefully statistics are explained, media has a tendency to grossly oversimplify into “what is the best, what is the worst” reporting. Often when such claims are not even vaguely supported by the data provided.

Teacher scruitiny is a valid thing to want but tables of students results is not going to tell us much about the teachers and possibly a lot about the demographics of the student population.

League tables or anything like them won’t provide any of that insight.

Jim Jones 10:05 am 15 Jul 09

What an objective headline.

Is there even a point engaging in debate on this issue when the post is constructed in crude doublespeak?

housebound 10:02 am 15 Jul 09

When governments start releasing cabinet in confidence documents and actually implement open and tranparent government, then I’ll support the same right to information about average school exam results.

I’m sure those cabinet decisions affect me more than the average marks for some school that neither I nor any living or ever-to-be living relative will ever attend. So I must have a right to that information.

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