1. Kazakhstan beats us in maths and science
Kazakhstan has beaten us in maths and science taught in schools – again. We should be aware that Kazakhstan was the home of the Soviet space program, as well as the apple, and has a futuristic capital designed by a Japanese architect:
There is no shame in being beaten by Kazakhstan. Problem is, lots of other countries are beating us too. Seems we’ve stayed the same over the last 20 years, stagnated, while other countries have improved.
Gillard’s changes were to teach the measurable, so it could be measured and accounted for, to parents, the community and the funders. Generally speaking the model was imported from Joel Klein, New York City’s Schools Chancellor, who fraudulently cooked his results. The new system is incredibly stressful for teachers.
Lower socio-economic strata are being left behind, and our gender gap is bigger than others. I think our cultural diversity also makes it harder for teachers.
And the curriculum is too crowded and too didactic too early. In Finland and Scandinavia generally they don’t start formal schooling until age 7, with no detriment to performance at age 15.
Gonski’s notion of funding according to need is required more than ever, and Grattan have a story that’s worth consideration.
And we need to treat our teachers better professionally, with mentoring of young teachers, time for self-reflection and such.
2. More on New York origins of Gillard’s education revolution
- First, there was the unbelievable improvement in school results that were attributed to the incentives created for school improvement by publishing school results. In 2009, 85% of New York City elementary and middle schools received an ‘A’ grade, compared to only 23% in 2007; 97% achieved an A or a B grade compared to 60% in 2007. A mere 27 out of 1058 schools that were graded received C’s, D’s or F’s in 2009.
Murdoch’s The New York Post, nominally supporting the system, found the “avalanche of A’s” to “simply beggar the imagination” and were “contrary to plain common sense”.
- Diane Ravitch, Professor of Education at New York University and former US Assistant Secretary of Education, called the results “bogus”. She said that New York’s school reporting model is a system of “institutionalised lying” which produces “rigged and fraudulent” results.
Klein’s school results improved because he made the tests easier. Even then he manipulated the results to make them look better.
David Zyngier, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, writing about whether the Coalition’s policy that greater ‘autonomy’ and ‘independence’ will improve schools, says it will only help to further entrench difference and halt any upward social mobility in the education system. Of the Gillard changes he says:
- Under the neo-liberal spell of Joel Klein, then chancellor of the New York City department of education (2002-2011), Australian education became an experimental playground of neo-con policies including competition, assessment and privatisation.
The development of the MySchool website, NAPLAN testing and performance pay for teachers all owe their origins to Gillard’s neophytic acceptance of the illusory and fraudulent claims of lasting education reform that Klein brought to New York education.
Education minister Simon Birmingham has been fond of saying that more money has been spent on schools, to no educational effect. We find in fact that under Gillard, private schools got more and government schools less. Not her fault, the states simply reallocated money.
I think she tried to pin the states to the task with Gonski funding agreements, but the first thing Christoper Pyne did was let them off the hook. It was up to them, he said, if the states wanted to take their money out as Commonwealth money for schools came in. Seems we don’t know how the funding balances out after 2013. Birmingham is also indulging in false representations (lies) in terms of the size of the increase in funding.
3. Trump and the global balance
China has spoken to Australia directly – don’t side against us with Donald Trump.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is cactus, because the core was the relationship between Japan and the US. China now has an opportunity:
- China is promoting its own pan-Pacific trade pact. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is still being negotiated, but if enacted, it could become the world’s largest free trade bloc.
If the US wants to join later they may find that trade rules in this region are also made in China.
On the other side of the world, there is a concern that the Russians may have influenced the election.
The count now shows Clinton with a majority of about 1,326,000 and Trump’s combined lead in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania was 102,719. So if a bit over 50,000 had changed their vote, Hillary would be heading for the White House.
Under these circumstances all narratives about what made the difference are probably true.
More important, though, is what Russia gets out of the win. What they’d like is:
- recognition of the annexation of Crimea and international acceptance of foreign aggression to change state borders; Russian control of Ukraine; weakening or even dissolution of the European Union and NATO; restoration of Russia as a great power; and restored dominance over the former Soviet bloc and its environs.
And a free hand in Syria.
In breaking news, Trump talks to Taiwan’s leader which he knows will be an affront to the Chinese. “She called me”, he says, but it would have happened by arrangement.
4. Italian referendum watch
The New York Times has an explainer on the Italian referendum. I leave you to read the details, but as a referendum, it’s major. The referendum would change 47 of the Constitution’s 139 articles, reducing the senate from 315 members to 95, changing the way they are elected, and their role in government. The regions (equivalent to our states) are strengthened, and provincial government is excised.
It was a bold attempt by a once popular leader to reshape Italian democracy, in order to ‘drain the swamp’ and one might say make Italy work again politically.
It looks as though it will end in tears, but if so the effects will play out over months and years, and could start a real fragmentation of Europe.
5. Local politics
Had a lovely evening after more distractions yesterday, but no time to do the local game-playing justice and this post is more than long enough already. I got sucked in to the Gillard education thing. There’s more to be said.
I think one side of our politics is populated with fairly good second-rate politicians, the other varies, but some are poor third-rate at best. At one stage on Thursday I was heard to mutter “Thank God for the Greens!”
Maybe I’ll do a bit more later today.
Introduction to Saturday salon
Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.