Letter to the Media on “Retention Rates” ~ This is for you Jeanne

Way back in early March I wrote to the Mercury about all the pointless trumpeting about raising ‘retention rates’. The title the Mercury supplied was “School problems stem from the root”. So I think my message was understood. AND they gave me the “Blue Spot” 🙂 Read my letter below. PS sorry for my neglect – life has been on the fast train of late.


What is it that “educators” don’t understand about “horse, stable, bolted”?

If students still can’t read & write after 10 years of schooling, two more years of failure & misery aren’t going to make any difference. Such students can’t wait to leave school.

Further, the only card they have left to play is that they are younger and cheaper & therefore still picked up by employers. Some prove to be worthy workers, retain their job and contribute to society. If the current initiative to force them into 2 or even 3 more years in school, what happens when they finally leave?

Funding and time spent on spraying the branches of the tree of knowledge are of little use when the real problem all along has been root-rot. We’ve had 3 decades of ministers being ill-advised to focus on the top end – it hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work this time either.

The elephant in the room represents Prep to Gr 3 where the foundation skills of reading and writing are (should be) laid down. For decades newly trained teachers have been complaining that, on completion of a 4 year B.Ed they don’t feel confident to teach reading. This is no surprise as their training is biased towards a “progressive” (now there is a misnomer if ever their was one) approach that emphasises “facilitating” over “direct teaching”. In infant classrooms this is inappropriate.

A traditional University education frees the mind. Current teacher training ‘boxes the mind’ and is complicit in leaving a swathe of vital knowledge covering our powerful alphabetic system out of the picture … Why? It offends a fatally flawed “progressive” ideology when applied to infant grades.

The so called “Reading Wars” are a fallacy. It was a well orchestrated coup.

How do I know? I lived it. I was a mother of 3; a mature age B.Ed uni student; a participant in many practical experience sessions across both public and private sector schools;an attendee of the big on rhetoric, poor on detail PD sessions; the founder of a learning centre (we saw the fallout in terms of struggling students); an M. Ed student studying in Faculties other than the Education Faculty – needless to say the knowledge paradigms conflicted.

A whole Language emphasis in the infant sector is more than just inadequate, it is harmful.

The same old “blame the teachers” game is in full swing. “We need a better quality of trainees” – well they were fed progressivist methodology in the first place so put the blame where it rightfully belongs – at the feet of the biased academics running the show in Education faculties, supported by equally biased Education Department staffers.

Note: No base testing was conducted prior to the introduction of what was initially called “Language Experience”. As mothers, we were told that our concerns were due to a few initial teething problems. Assurance was given that we would soon see a marked improvement in reading skills. I am now a grandmother – I’m still waiting. How I would love to hit a “reset button”.

Jean Harrison,


I Don’t Know the Kids: Not That Well

Reality can be so comforting.

The Traditional Teacher

One of the most refreshing things about David Didau’s latest book, What if Everything You Knew about Education Was Wrong? is his determination to induce doubt in his reader’s mind. Complacent certainty is a debilitating thing for teachers.

A clear example of this kind of complacency is contained in the words, ‘I know my pupils’. It’s the killer punch to an argument, because it is not falsifiable. There is no definitive evidence that can be presented to refute this statement. One can debate endlessly over the evidence for this approach or that, only to have the whole discussion closed down with these four short words. The implication tends to be that ‘you can pontificate all you like about cognitive science; you can use any logical argument you like; but I possess knowledge which supports my approach, knowledge to which you evidently have no access, you cold-hearted intellectual, you!’

In response to…

View original post 347 more words

Healthy Eating for the Mind

Thought some readers may enjoy this

The Traditional Teacher

AppleSometimes people object to medicine’s being used as an analogy for education. They point out that there are many differences and many ways in which the two areas of policy are not comparable. It is always possible to attack an analogy in this way, simply because analogy works by comparing two things that are alike in some ways, but different in others. Those who wish to understand and appreciate the analogy focus on similarities, while those who wish to undermine it focus on the differences. To complain that the analogy doesn’t work because there are important differences between its component parts, is to to complain that it doesn’t work because it is an analogy. Unless analogy is completely avoided as a method of reasoning, there will always be tensions which can be exploited by opponents.

Medical analogies have many uses when examining education. They serve a corrective purpose. Our culture…

View original post 536 more words

Why am I not surprised?

Carol Burris: Test Results Unimpressive in Third Year of Common Core

by dianeravitch

Carol Burris analyzed the New York State results in the third year of Pearson testing for the Common Core, and she was underwhelmed.

She says the results are “a flop. The proficiency needle barely budged.” Achievement gaps grew.


So why am I not surprised that all the money spent on this transparent self-serving shift to corporatisation is the real failure?



  • raise the pass level of the test/s
  • fail to adjust the teaching approach
  • steal what time teachers have to teach & learners to learn by demanding rigorous prep testing sessions (teaching to the test)
  • threaten teachers with loss of tenure
  • burden students with the knowledge that their teacher could lose his/her job if they fail the test
  • add to that burden with the threat that your school could close (purpose of the whole exercise)
  • rely on technology that frequently fails to deliver equitable opportunities (times scheduled prior to prep testing, equipment breakdown, IT provider problems)
  • deliver seriously flawed test questions (ambiguous, fail to make sense, are clearly developmentally inappropriate to age group/s, can have more than one answer) (refuse to replace or adjust problem questions) (ignore advise of proper experts)
  • provide a marking system with zero room for teacher discretion – student’s answer was correct but student didn’t use the same words as the tests prescriptive answer/s
  • set up unrealistic expectations (K-1 using a keyboards with capital letters and not knowing the placement of the keys, hrs long sessions when psychologists recommend a 10 – 15 minute concentration span!)
  • deny that students in public schools are set up to fail & that the real impetus is to take a sledge hammer to the public school system and replace it with corporate owned charter schools


Jon Pelto: Washington State Lowers Pass Mark for Common Core Test

The astronomical cost, the astronomical arrogance & the astronomical backlash

Diane Ravitch's blog

Jonathan Pelto reports a very important story from Washington State. As we have learned to expect, a majority of the students in the state “failed” the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Why?because the testing groups set the “cut score” (passing mark) unrealistically high.

Remarkably, the state board of education lowered the cut score so that most students would be able to graduate.

Pelto writes:

“Yup, you read that correctly, after taxpayers were forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing the Common Core and the Common Core Tests and students and teachers wasted unfathomable amounts of time prepping and taking the tests that were designed to label the vast majority of students as failures, the “lead” state behind the SBAC testing scheme simply threw out results.

“Instead of going with the cut score that was adopted by the SBAC coordinating committee last November, an unfair rating system that was adopted with…

View original post 112 more words

Society’s dilemma: How can you ‘educate’ the uneducated? (Apart from 3 word slogans?)

octopus-666494 If your curious about this over-priveledged, power hungry octopus – read on …

I read the following article …


It concerns predatory academic publishing … about time this was addressed.

My response in their comment’s follows:


Nowhere has predatory academic publishing been more prevalent than in the field of education itself.

While we are still reeling from one academic’s perceived assumption that “Reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game.” (Goodman) along comes the ultimate threat … “Common Core”. This is further decimating education in the USA.

While it touted the intention to raise the standards of education for the poor and literary challenged students, it turns out to be a plan to shut down the public schools serving them in favour of charter schools who don’t want these children!

This latest push to corporatise education is a publishers dream. Pearson, who owns 90% of the education market is in a position to promote it’s own products & earn mega $$$. The Gates Foundation and ALEC members are in a position to fund their own agenda/s. High Stakes Common Core testing requires technology – computers, tablets etc (constant updating is a given).

Bill Gates is providing a new tablet to rival the iPad. His tablet, named “Surface”, is to have exclusive rights to Common Core materials (supplied by Pearson of course). Gates is denying any suggestion that he may have alterier motives for the millions he is providing.

Parents are in the streets protesting.

Are there no journalists out there interested in the potential push of this octopus-like goal for world domination of all matters educational – that we are under serious threat?

I could go on about the connections of ALEC – Pearson & Gates, who have made a push into the African countries ‘doing good things’.

From Diane Ravich’s bog: “This may not come as a big surprise. The Economist magazine, known for its free-market perspective, supports the growth of private schools for the poor in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Did you know that Pearson, the British mega-corporation, owns a 50% stake in the Economist?”

Come on guys – this is HUGE … we need journalists like you to weigh in on this before the second wave of American stupidity in education washes over us. Pearson & Common Core are already established organisations in Australia. Just join Diana Rivich’s blog for a week .. take 2 minutes to look at the preview of “The Building Machine” on YouTube

These are the matters that count. If you want to dramatically improve literacy in Australia, take infant education off of the existing, entrenched, ideologically driven pseudo academics ‘training’ (mistraining) our infant teachers.

If we can’t stop this problem then we need to be more adroit at sussing them out and avoiding their influence.

Forget the big push for “College Ready” / “Retention rates” etc. We can keep spraying the canopy till the cows come home. If our children can’t read then they can’t wait to leave school.

The REAL problem is root-rot. It lurks in infant grades & the movers & shakers and advisors to our political ministers will do anything in their power to keep the focus off infant grades & infant teacher training.

If journalists would only help by digging down to the roots where the problem is hiding and shine a torch on it we might save ourselves from the predictable onslaught of “Common Core”. Our weakness is their opportunity.

I am a tutor. I see the unneccessary failure fallout daily. Our children are the victims, they are many and I weep for them. Our entire society suffers.

Time and time again I see reference to important issues calling for the need to “educate the people”? How do you educate the uneducated?


%d bloggers like this: