Dear candidate/local member

18 03 2012

Could we ask you to please have a closer look at the current LP and ALP policies on devil-ution in school staffing and budgeting?

Among other negative repercussions, in Australia it has resulted in the loss of separately staffed teacher librarians in our nations schools, primary and secondary.

Without adequate funds, principals have been forced to cash in specialist positions to ensure classroom teacher staffing. This has been going on since Kennett led the way in Victoria, where now only 13% of primary schools have teacher librarians. Tasmania followed suit with school autonomy and now only has 29 qualified teacher librarians in 125 K-10 schools (23%).  The Northern Territory has 13 qualified teacher librarians in 151 government schools.  New South Wales and Queensland are now threatened with the disease of “independent” and “locally empowered” public schools.

Australia is now in the embarrassing position of having 46% of our adult population unable to cope with day to day literacy needs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Core Skills for Business (DEEWR, 2008) has stated “this can create problems in the workplace that prevent a business from reaching its full potential….OECD research has revealed that raising a country’s adult literacy by just 1 per cent leads to a rise in productivity of 2.5 per cent and a 1.5 per cent increase in GDP.”

Teacher librarians improve literacy.  They promote the love of reading. build literacy skills (including spelling, grammar, vocabulary and writing skills!) which are a key to the digital age and raise NAPLAN literacy scores.  Over 60 studies have demonstrated this.  No research has demonstrated that school based management improves student learning outcomes.  It does, however, devolve responsibility and save government spending.

In this National Year of Reading, we ask you to consider instead the long term financial cost of having a nation of non-readers, students disadvantaged by not having the professional knowledge and passion for reading of qualified teacher librarians.

If you wish to have further information on any of these issues, please don’t hesitate in contacting us. We trust you will act in the best interest of our nation’s students and an informed democratic society.

Thank you for your time and consideration,





School Based Management, the political disease killing public education

26 02 2012

Where did the notion of a “Self-Managed School (SMS)” or School Based Management or Locally Empowered Schools begin? Professor John Smyth, Flinders University, gives us a lead.

In a 1999 interview by Nick Davies of The Guardian with Lord Baker, the Secretary of State for Education responsible for bringing in the SMS under Margaret Thatcher in England in the 1980s, the true intent behind the SMS was startlingly revealed. According to Davies, Baker laughingly admitted in the interview that the SMS policy (and its close relatives, standardised assessment, league tables, national curriculum, parental choice, and the Office for Standards in Education [Ofsted]), were all developed for entirely political reasons: the ‘real agenda was to punish the teacher unions and to kill off the local educational authorities; secretly the big master plan was to wipe out comprehensive schools by stealth’ (pp. 113-4).

From John Smyth, “The disaster of the ‘self-managing school’ genesis, trajectory, undisclosed agenda, and effects” in Journal of Educational Administration and History 43:2, Apr. 2011, pp. 95-117. quoting Nick Davies, “Political Coup Bred Educational Disaster,” The Guardian, September 16, 1999, P. 1.

And where does it end? With the withering away of the low socio-economic status (SES) schools, as middle class parents with the skills to lobby for better schooling move their children to higher SES, selective and private schools. It ends in increasing division between social, racial and religious groups, principals spending valuable time on PR and image making, reduced staffing, and decision-making based on economics instead of pedagogy.

Has SBM improved student achievement? There has been no research to demonstrate this. “What is staggering,” says Smyth, ” is the absence of any evidence showing that dismantling public schools, in the manner that has occurred in the countries mentioned, actually produces any better learning for students” (p.109).

Real improvements are made through changes in the classroom, through the relationships between students and teachers, and through offering the best teaching and learning to every student.

As Smyth states, “Measures that have made schools self-managing through creating educational markets and that have been necessary to sustain that ideology (choice, school selection, baseline assessment, Ofsted inspections in England, league tables, naming and shaming, national assessment, and others) are starting to become unravelled through the social polarisation produced as a consequence of some schools attracting bright students and funding, and the rest being left behind in struggling circumstances” (p.115).

If we believe in public education and in social equity and a democratic society, it is time to question what we are doing in our schools and implement the best educational and classroom practices, not the best in marketing. Consider the outstanding Finnish model, where every school offers the best to every child and teachers must be of the top quality, resulting in top marks in literacy and learning. Time to stop this political epidemic and use what we already know about the best in teaching to give our students the best in learning.





1000 more schools to get the blame

21 11 2011

Today education minister Peter Garrett issued a release that the National Partnership Agreements will be extended to 1000 more schools next year.

Please let parents and citizens know they are being hoodwinked. Write to local papers.  Spread the truth of NPAs and local control.

Parents and citizens beware. Global budgeting and staffing in schools is sold to the community as a way for principals and schools to determine their own needs.  In reality, they have become a means by which governments of all persuasions have been able to continually slash education budgets without having to wear the pain. The responsibility, and blame, is handed over to local school principals and parent boards.

Our situation is part of a much larger issue of declining education funding.  Over the past 20 years, education funding in Australia has declined, as funding in other OECD countries has increased.  We are now among the lowest funding countries in the developed world, 28th after Lithuania and Greece.

Under local control of staffing, principals have to hire from reduced budgets and cash in specialist teachers  no longer quarantined in staffing formulas.  The National Partnership Agreements give schools extra funds to experiment with staffing mixes.  What a surprise that they are happier with more staff! But with the reality of state funding cuts, this school based management is the reason we have hemorrhaged specialist teachers such as counsellors and teacher librarians around the country for the past two decades.

Now NSW wants to follow suit. Don’t be hoodwinked by Local Schools, Local Decisions.  There is plentiful evidence to show qualified teacher librarians improve student literacy and learning.  There is no evidence to show that localized staffing, and the dismantling of a state transfer system which ensures teachers in country regions, will improve student learning.

 

Further reading:

NSWTF on 47 NPA trial schools <http://www.nswtf.org.au/journal/education-92-11/index.html>

NSW next in line <https://hubinfo.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/nsw-next-in-line/>





Students support teacher librarians

14 11 2011

Students support TLs

Students in NSW support teacher librarians.