March 6th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

SEX EDUCATION: Abstinence-only programs teach young to make wiser choices

FAMILY AND SOCIETY: What fatherlessness costs society

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: Greek crisis tips Europe towards double-dip recession

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Australian manufacturing: does it have a future?

NATIONAL SECURITY: Terrorist trial a landmark in Australian justice

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: US arms sales affirm Taiwan's strategic role


Climate-scare game is up (letter)

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Crisis of confidence in Rudd Government

Latest quarantine fiasco (letter)

CLIMATEGATE: No recent global warming, admits Professor Jones

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Federal, state governments veto northern development

FAMILY POLICY: Voters demand equality in childcare maternity payments

INSULATION SCAM: Wheel turns full circle for Peter Garrett

ENERGY: Nuclear energy ... next generation power source

SURROGACY: Next stolen generation - who needs a mother, anyway?

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Giant mosque to overlook UK Sandhurst military academy/Controversial images withdrawn by the Met/Beware of ice cream made in China/Plummeting birthrates threaten global prosperity/Al Gore lying low

Failing schools (letter)

BOOK REVIEW: EMPIRES OF THE SILK ROAD: A History of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Present, by Christopher I. Beckwith

News Weekly's prescience (letter)

COVER STORY / EDITORIAL: Moment of truth for Bushfire Royal Commission

Books promotion page

Failing schools (letter)

by Marcus L'Estrange

News Weekly, March 6, 2010

It's so sad to see the Australian Education Union (AEU) opposing the Rudd Government's recently launched My School website. The AEU, after having spent years undermining any attempts to allow the public to compare schools and thus enable governments to allocate remedial money on a more logical basis, is now fighting the only comparison method we have left: the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).

Of course, NAPLAN and its predecessors' results have been available for many years; but, because of sanitised student reporting, parents were not aware of how bad their children's standards of literacy and numeracy were.

Even as a teacher, I was unable to obtain earlier NAPLAN results from my own school. So what hope would parents have?

Just look at young students working in food outlets trying to calculate change in their heads or mentally dividing a restaurant bill, let alone trying to write coherently.

NAPLAN is not perfect, but it is capable of improvement. It is the crucial start we need in order to overcome the glaring contradiction between the government's extra billions' worth of expenditure on schools and the continuing decline in students' educational results.

Until then, we will still have innumerable AEU members, from the top down, sending their own children to private schools in order to avoid the current disaster that exists in largely ALP strongholds. As even Victorian Labor Premier John Brumby himself once acknowledged: "Typically, the kids who are being failed by failing schools are Labor kids in Labor areas."

The whole reason the AEU is opposed to the Rudd Government's school performance disclosure program is that it is terrified at the prospect of Australians finding out the AEU's responsibility for today's dire state of school education.

The AEU's key policy is encapsulated in the left-wing "equality of outcomes" nonsense which says, in effect, that everyone should matriculate or, in my home state, get their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) - and, by the way, don't worry too much if students cannot read or write to anywhere near the VCE level.

Isn't it strange how, in Victoria, nearly all schools claim a 90 to 93 per cent VCE success rate, but massive differences emerge when schools' VCE Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) scores are compared.

School-based assessment is too often not worth the paper it is written on, with subject "passes" too often scattered around indiscriminately, like confetti at a wedding.

Marcus L'Estrange,
St Kilda, Vic.

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