Thursday, May 24, 2012

Weekly readings from Allan

Greetings. This is the first of weekly (hopefully) postings highlighting interesting educational links that are pertinent to current educational issues. One thing that has become very apparent, and increasingly so, is that the standards/testing/teacher accountability/etc agenda is not specific to one particular country, and that rhetoric from an Australian or New Zealand politician is usually a very close match to that emanating from the United States.

It is very clear, to those who have their eyes open, that the attack on ‘schooling’ in many countries, particularly England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and USA, is a planned action, that has nothing to do with education and much to do with opening education up to corporates to enhance their profits streams and to enrich shareholders.  The fact that these are the ‘white dominated predominantly English speaking” countries must be a coincidence.

We must not make the mistake of thinking that our own local educational issues, regardless of country, are specific to each country. We can, and need to, learn from what is happening all over and we must play very close attention to the developments in the USA, as we can reliably assume that events and rhetoric there, will arrive elsewhere before too long.

Each week I will highlight half a dozen articles, out of the many that turn up on my computer from various sources, to enable readers to keep up to date with developments. I welcome suggested articles for this, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

US educationalist Susan Ohanian is another who has taken up the keyboard to attack the school ‘deform’ movement and also to provide links to suitable articles. Here are a couple of examples.

Early last year, a nasty piece of propaganda was produced in the form of a movie called “Waiting for Superman.” Superman in this case referring to super teachers, following the disparaging of teachers in the movie. In response, a group in New York produced a counter movie, “The Inconvenient Truth of Waiting for Superman.” This article tells more and also provides a link to the online version of this.

The following article “The fantasies driving school reform: A primer for education graduates” features a presentation to a group of graduating teachers. Spot the similarities with local developments!

US educator Paul Thomas is another eloquent anti-testing campaigner. Here he draws a comparison between high stakes standardised testing and the tobacco debate, in a post entitled “The Education Games: Reform as Doublespeak.”

The Education Week web page isn’t always a friend of the anti-school reform movement, however here’s an exception written by a school principal, Peter DeWitt, “Are We Paying for the Sins of the Past?” Peter discusses, among other things, the Common Core Standards (CCS) in the USA, which have a frighten amount in common with New Zealand’s National Standards, although, to be fair CCS seem to be worse.

Author C.M Rubin has produced a series of articles on her webpage under the title “Global Search for Education.” In this one, the attention is turned to Singapore,

... we are honored to share the insights of Dr. Pak Tee Ng - Associate Dean, Leadership Learning, Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Learning, and Head and Associate Professor, Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group, at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Republic of Singapore.

One could write at length on why politicians in the GERM countries are ignoring Singapore and Finland, or one could summarise it rather succinctly!
Saving a heavy one until last, here is an article about the right wing USA organisation known as ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). Comprised of representatives from many of the biggest multinational corporations and people such as Bill Gates, ALEC develops and writes policy and legislation for the right wing side of USA state and national politics. Links have been found between ALEC and the Conservative Party government in the UK, and it’s not to hard to imagine similar links to like minded political parties in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  A read through ALEC’s education policy will ring alarm bells - how come many of the ideas and expressions are being implemented in Australia and New Zealand, as well as parts of Canada? Make no mistake, US activists will tell you that ALEC is the enemy.


Anonymous said...

What a great idea- principals can't say they didn't know what was happening if they took the time to check out Allan's links.

Bruce said...

Schools are lucky to have Allan to track down sites/links that school leaders should be aware of. I personally value his contributions.

When the full corporate agenda is finally in place no one can say schools weren't warned.