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Do you know what controls our children’s schooling?

By Phil Cullen - posted Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Greed. Greed for money.

Murdochgate [British style] has revealed an interesting scenario.

Joel Klein, the New York lawyer -  [who persuaded our Prime Minister to assail all Australian schools with a  ‘hard-data system of schooling’ - Klein’s description -  based on fear of failure ] -   was assigned by the Murdoch team last week to provide “strategic guidance” in the telephone hacking scandal.  This news was released to the world on 12 July, but is yet to feature in any Australian news column.

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Rebekah Brooks, who ran the British section of the Murdoch publishing empire until her resignation on Friday [15 July], sent out a memo to her troops, two paragraphs of which say:-

People have asked if it is right for me, as CEO of News International and as the Editor of News of the World until January 2003, to oversee our efforts to assess allegations, address serious issues and prevent them from happening again.  I’m determined that News International does this.

For the avoidance of any doubt, however, the News Corporation independent directors agree with James Murdoch’s recommendation that the Management and Standards Committee, comprised of Will Lewis, Simon Greenberg and Jeff Parker, report directly to Joel Klein in New York. Joel is leading and directing the Company’s overall handling of this matter.”

As the Canberra Times  said last week, “Be careful not to gloat over Murdoch’s discomfort.” Yep. We schoolies know that the Murdoch business in Britain will not wilt, if the making of a fortune  is the name of the game. Joel Klein is good at his job. If the future of newspapers and TV productions  becomes dicey, Rupert takes heart. The publishing of school tests and on-line learning can be much more profitable. That’s the way we are heading, kiddies. Britain is in the cross-hairs. It’s vulnerable. The world next. Did you think that the whole sorry saga of changing the New York and Australian schooling systems was about helping children to learn? Come off it. It’s money, money, money. We are contributing already; awaiting Rupert’s version of on-line schooling.

Last year, Joel Klein left “the turmoil of NYC  schools”, as it is generally described,  to join Murdoch’s test publishing business in New York. His annual salary to do this was cited at $4.5 million. Blanket testing in schools is very, very big business, so this wage is peanuts. Test publishing for American schools is a most profitable part of some of the US’s major papers. If you want to know who is making the big bucks from test production and publishing in Australia right now...and someone is... your local state politician will find out for you.  ACER used to publish education items for profit. Watch it. If you are told that State Governments are doing it, ask for more detail.

Maybe you still think that schools are for schooling!!

It has been suggested that Murdoch has a vision of schooling that involves heavy integration of on-line learning with system-wide testing. That’s where the real money is. Britain awaits. Think of the volume of commercial material and its value.  It involves the carving up of all school subjects and other curriculum issues  into fine incremental activities, with self-testing and corrective devices and cheat-free national tests, as teacher-free students  work their way through each purchased web-site.  Its advocates see a huge potential for secondary school subjects of the measureable kind. Its application is limitless; and his writers will have full control of curriculum content, of course.  Bye bye, national curricula.

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Before we see world schooling change from the present warm and caring, achievement oriented learning-support schools that we have, to real hard-data ones, each country’s  blanket testing schemes will have to cease now.  Schools and their principals and teachers need to talk-up about the professional ethics of having to inflict fear and distress on children. They are compelled to do so, and, so far, only a few top-rate learning schools have reacted to protect their clients. Total cessation of testing before it is too late is the only protection that schools and children have. Ask our teachers.

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About the Author

Phil Cullen is a teacher. His website is here: Primary Schooling.

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All articles by Phil Cullen

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