Some of you may know that I earned a Ph.D. from The University of Melbourne. “Melbourne Uni” is one of Australia’s most elite institutions and ranks routinely as one of the world’s top 20 research universities. You may also know that I have been extremely critical of how the politically liberal Australian Federal government is rushing to emulate the worst American education policies of the NCLB-era.
This makes an entry in the most recent Alumni News email all the more extraordinary. Normally such emails are by their very nature uncontroversial since they’re primarily a fund-raising solicitation.
The lead “news story” in this email reads:
Former Dean of Education urges parents to boycott national school tests
The press release from the university says the following:
Former Dean of Education Brian Caldwell is calling on teachers and parents to boycott national student tests so the results cannot be used to shame under-performers in league tables.
Professor Brian Caldwell (BSc 1962, BEd (PG) 1968) has publicly slammed the Federal Government’s push to create league tables to rank schools, claiming they will be used by other parties to shame struggling schools.
Professor Caldwell said league tables would not accurately reflect how schools compared in terms of performance, and would not inform parents of how their children were performing.
He said league tables would stigmatise many schools, particularly those in disadvantaged settings.
Read the news article about Professor Caldwell’s forthcoming speech against such destructive educational policies. Such a story would be unlikely to make a major US newspaper since what counts as education journalism is too often stenography and billionaire Eli Broad holds remarkable sway over media coverage of public education.
Imagine if just one President or Dean of a prestigious American university had the courage to speak out against the draconian policies of blaming, shaming, name-calling, ranking, sorting and endless testing that are destroying American public schools. Who knows? Every American child might enjoy an education similar to that enjoyed by the Obama children, rather than be subjected to Federal policies that are headed 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.