Sunday, January 20, 2008

teachers union opposes viable plan to help the most disadvantaged group in australia

Everyone knows that aboriginal education is a disaster zone
... the relative failures affecting students in the mainstream pale in comparison to the absolute educational failures diminishing the life prospects of thousands of students in remote indigenous communities.

A significant minority of students from these areas leave school without having acquired any literacy or numeracy skills, and are therefore unlikely to participate in the real economy. This is the most critical disaster in Australian education
- Incentives will bring top teachers
Noel Pearson has a viable plan to do something about it. Read the above article. Pearson's plan borrows from the McKinsey report.

Who is against this? The teachers union.
Adam Lampe, from the Australian Education Union, says any introduction would be fiercely resisted.

"We would fight wholeheartedly against the introduction of any kind of performance pay," Mr Lampe said
- Plan to entice teachers to remote Australia
So the union is against a viable plan to help the most disadvantaged people in Australia.

The role of the unions is to help the disadvantaged? Maybe at one stage, earlier on in their history. Not any more. The role of the union is to help their middle class members. Too bad about the disadvantaged.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

From what I can glean of these articles, the plan is not about performance pay. It sounds like the union has mis-interpreted what is proposed. Even so, unions generally are about protecting the interests of their members. I am no apologist for the unions, and am highly critical of the AEU (despite being a member), but at the end of the day, a teachers' union will fight for the general rights of teachers.

As for the proposed plan itself, I think it is a good idea (high quality teachers are needed; the only way to get the necessary numbers is through monetary incentives), but may be neglecting other factors. I work in a mainly indigenous school. We have plenty of high quality teachers working there. The single biggest factor affecting the students' learning is what's going on at home. If things are bad at home, even the best teacher is severely limited in what they can achieve in the classroom.

Tony Forster said...

The proposed plan sounds good but has risks. Good teachers will be rewarded. How will good teachers be measured? Will it be by the results of standardised tests? The best way to get good short term results in standardised tests is to teach to the test. What is measured in standardised tests? Only those things that can be easily measured like fact retention, not problem solving skills or original thinking. So education will concentrate on simple fact retention, the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Short term gains and long term losses?

Bill Kerr said...

anonymous:
"The single biggest factor affecting the students' learning is what's going on at home"

That's where the other Pearson reforms come in, this latest initiative is only one part of his proposed solution:

"Parents will have their income support payments reduced if their children do not go to school every day or are neglected and left open to abuse.

Adults will also be penalised if they engage in violent behaviour or drug and alcohol abuse, or breach their tenancy agreements in public housing"
- tough love

Bill Kerr said...

hi tony,

Yes those issues tear me apart, I must admit - as a long term supporter for creativity in schools I know that standards and accountability can place extreme limitations on those who want to try out new ideas. But it does depend also on how those standards are used and interpreted.

I intend to check out the 'Teach for America' scheme in more detail - mentioned in McKinsey report and picked up by Pearson. It has been used to get high performing American students quickly into the teaching profession.

The other point is that this may be the only practical way at present to achieve a relatively quick improvement in aboriginal education. More creative solutions would take longer. I think it is a case of you have to start somewhere and that somewhere for now has to follow the KISS principle.

Bill Kerr said...

Literacy the key to Aborigines' future

This article outlines the literacy program that Pearson has in mind and possibly the resistance that will need to be overcome from the educational establishment

"MULTILIT (Making Up Lost Time In Literacy)... devised by Macquarie University reading researchers Professor Kevin Wheldall and Dr Robyn Beaman ...

... at Coen State School, after two terms last year, students in the MULTILIT pilot project gained 21.4 months in reading accuracy and 10.7 months in reading comprehension and could correctly read 75 per cent more words per minute ...

There are difficulties ahead, not least because the Australian education establishment is generally antagonistic to what it regards as outdated, boring, teacher-led phonics instruction"

Anonymous said...

Bill:
{
anonymous:
"The single biggest factor affecting the students' learning is what's going on at home"

That's where the other Pearson reforms come in, this latest initiative is only one part of his proposed solution:

"Parents will have their income support payments reduced if their children do not go to school every day or are neglected and left open to abuse.
}

Most of our kids come to school on a regular basis. It is a safe place for them to be. Attendance is not the primary issue (though it does contribute). As for neglect/abuse, how is this going to be enforced? Shouldn't this be enforced anyway, in all households across the country?

{
Adults will also be penalised if they engage in violent behaviour or drug and alcohol abuse, or breach their tenancy agreements in public housing"
}

Again, why should this restricted to aborigines? What will the penalties be? Who will be the judge/jury?

Bill Kerr said...

hi anonymous,

I agree that all children in Australia should be safe but lets not use that as an argument against taking urgent action where the need is greatest. The Little Children are Sacred report demonstrates that the need is greatest for many aboriginal children

At any rate Social Ventures Australia wants to broaden Pearsons education scheme to the urban disadvantaged
- Plan to widen Pearson's incentive scheme

We can expect that teacher union "progressives" will oppose this

The mechanism suggested by Pearson is the Family Responsibilities Commission:

"The Family Responsibilities Commission, which is the centrepiece of the social reforms that the Cape York Institute has suggested to the Australian and Queensland governments, is intended to remedy this fatal systemic flaw.

The FRC will be charged with making decisions about whether welfare recipients are fulfilling their obligations. We have recommended that four obligations be attached to welfare payments. In short:

* Each adult who receives welfare payments and is the parent or legal guardian of a child should be required to ensure that the child maintains a 100 per cent school attendance record (other than explained absences).

* All adults must not cause or allow children to be neglected or abused.

* All adults must not commit drug, alcohol, gambling or family violence offences.

* All adults must abide by conditions related to their tenancy in public housing.

Our plan provides for a retired magistrate to chair a panel in each community, including two senior elders from the community, to make the relevant decisions and hold individuals accountable to their families and especially their children.

We proposed that the Queensland Government create the FRC (the Howard government allocated funding for its operation) because this body needs to work closely with state government agencies, such as the Queensland departments of education and child safety. "
- Blame game ends here