Posts tagged Education

A Voter’s Letter to Prime Minister Abbott Post Budget 2014

I found this open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia after delivering their first that basically liked you but only if you earn over $250K or a major corporation. It’s worth the read;


Dear Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey,


I’d like to start off this open letter by stating that I have never supported Labor, OR Liberal. Both parties are against my political ideal, and I feel that the Labor leadership battle left themselves in a mess to which you were able to take advantage. Kudos to you…credit where it is due. For this reason I do not need to hear any attempted rebuttals of “it is Labor’s fault”. Just like in the Disney film ‘Frozen’, “LET IT GO”.


This letter is in enquiry to the announcement of your 2014-15 Federal Budget. An announcement that you state is necessary to get the budget out of deficit and into surplus (a deficit that is the fourth lowest debt in the entire developed world, but a deficit nonetheless). You have both stated that it is time that Australians ‘tighten their belts’ because the time for ‘luxurious spending’ is over.


My first question to you is, what is ‘luxurious spending’? Spending money to support people with physical and mental disabilities that prevent them from working to support themselves? Funding low interest loans to allow young Australians to be able to choose and strive for a career that does not necessarily need to involve retail, manufacturing, hospitality or mining (not that there is anything wrong with those career choices. That is the great thing about Australia. We have choices.)? Spending money on education and health in order to keep Australian’s educated and healthy? Ensuring that all Australians that fall on hard times have the opportunity to get back on their feet (particularly if you are under 30)?


If so, you need to reevaluate your priorities. Luxury is renovating The Lodge for an ‘unspecified’ amount of money. Luxury is dressing your daughters in Moschino gowns for post-election galas. Luxury is having Rupert Murdoch on your side to propagate an unknowing Australian public into believing this is the only way out. Try to correct me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure even the Oxford English Dictionary would correct you on what is ‘luxurious spending’. I hear you went to Oxford once upon a time, Mr. Abbott. Shitting on your own dictionary. What class.


My second question to you is, why make cuts in these areas when there are so many other options available? Like the $7.4b you allocated towards defense and purchasing aircraft (did you read John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow when the war began’, series and freaked the fuck out? It freaked me out…but not enough to spend $7.4b)? Like the distinct lack of taxes on the super rich? Like the fact that you have frozen your parliamentarian salaries for twelve months, only to give yourselves a $40k pay rise when the freeze lifts? Like the tax cuts you have given to big mining?


I acknowledge that mining is a huge part of the Australian economy. However, you need to remember that this industry has a use by date. Even if you had found a magical way to produce more coal (lets face it…I am still waiting for my acceptance letter from Hogwarts at the age of 27, so this is not going to happen), the renewable energy sector is internationally outpacing all other energy industries. Even China, our biggest trading partner of coal, is beginning to explore renewable energy options for their largest cities. In the appropriated words of Regina George, “stop trying to make coal happen”. Find a new industry to drive the economy.


And the taxes? I’m still trying to work out the plausibility of someone earning an income over $250 000 p.a being taxed (as a combination of the fuel excise increase, GP fee, etc) an extra $1492, when middle income families and the under 30’s unemployed will be slugged $4931 and $6944 from funding cuts respectively?

Whatever crazy pills you are taking to justify that, I want in. I will probably need them daily so I can attempt to feign nonchalance when I am thrown under the bus by your policies.


I should probably tell you a bit about myself so you can probably understand why I dislike you two so much right now. I am a high school teacher (back flipping on Gonski? Come on. You know my stereotype. We ‘love’ to strike. We can make your day very inconvenient when push comes to shove). I am currently on a year by year contract, working with students with behavioural needs. It is difficult to find permanency in a field that is awash with graduates, but I still love my job. And I do it damn well.


Inevitably, your cuts to Education mean that my position may and probably will come to an end sooner rather than later. I guess I could try and find another job? Oh wait…there is an 11.5% unemployment rate for people under the age of 30. I am 27. Shit balls. I guess I’ll have to go on Newstart to try and support myself in the meantime. Oh wait…I will not be able to get it for 6 months? Can I forward your contact number onto my Real Estate? I’m sure if you talk to them they will be totally understanding. I guess I could move back home…but my mother, a sole parent who works as a child care worker, earns an amount that is not sustainable to support me. She would not be able to (and should not have to) support me while I look for another job. I guess I could try and go for any old job I guess? Income is income, right? Thanks to my double degree, I am now overqualified for most advertised job positions in the job seeker sector.


Enough about me though, we should turn our focus back to Australia and ‘Australia’s good’. Which brings me to my third and final question for this letter. Thankfully, I do not need to be creative with this question, as it was asked by the ever sassy yet level headed host of the ‘7.30 Report’, Sarah Ferguson.

“Is it liberating for a politician to decide that election promises don’t matter?”


For someone who harped on about Julia Gillard breaking an election promise, you have broken several. So take a seat.


I doubt that this open letter will cause any change inside your frame of mind, but it is a channel of communication that I want the world to see.



An Australian voter you dislike.

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Malala – Her Message on Education for the World


Malala Yousafzai

Shot in the head by the Taliban to shut her up on education, the female gender and every other issue raised, Malala Yousafzai spoke at the United Nations to call not for hate nor war against “terrorists” but to push education to be given for every child regardless of gender around the world.

Watching the video, one gets a sense of just how strong willed and highly ambitious Malala Yousafzai is. Such drive will see her reaching the dazzling heights of international politics to push what she believes in.

One of the many things I admire about Malala is that after her friends and herself were shot by the Taliban, she did not allow herself to be bullied into silence and she didn’t take up the offer of moving to nations such as America for the safety of herself and her family. Instead, Malala is standing firm with her feet firmly on the soil on which she belongs too where she can continue her fight for what she believes is the right fight to take on.

I believe that there are many politicians in countries like Australia, America and the UK who have a lot to learn from Malala Yousafzai who is pushing for every child have access to free education for education is power. Empowerment is power. Those who seek to remove such empowerment have something personal to gain and human rights are never attached. Sadly, the three nations mentioned have not been kind to education for any child but those who were born into wealth.

Go fight, Malala!


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A School Finally Gets It & Doctors Seek Parents Change Their Habits

Students to learn about failure

Life skills: St Hilda’s pupils Juliet Kaard, Arabella Matthews, Mya Teh and Giulia Naccarato. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

 Elite private all girls school, St Hilda’s Anglican School in West Australia has stopped over praising their children and have decided to open up their children to lessons of failure and disappointment to prepare them for the real world post-school age.

They have decided to give them some tests where there is work that is above their ability so they know that they don’t know everything after all. Also gone are stickers and constant praise for every good little thing they do. Their reasoning is so children learn to not need constant praise but to develop in them the ability to take disappointment without becoming upset. It would also help end the creation of a narcissistic generation created by their elders. They get my full support 1,000%.

Over-praising meant children were less able to cope with disappointments they faced later in life.

She wrote an article in the school newsletter in response to parents’ questions on why their children were no longer getting 100 per cent on tests and homework.

She said research had found that children who received top marks could develop the perception that learning was easy.

“When they do finally experience failure, they are unable to cope with this feeling,” she wrote.

“Praising children for the 100 per cent or the A-grade develops the perception that success is linked to a state of being smart and to achieve that mark, students have been known to risk cheating.

“Giving students the label of smart does not prevent them from under-performing but may actually cause it.”

Heaping praise on students also gave them a false sense of their ability and led to a sense of entitlement.

“We want to give students praise for what they have control over,” she said. “They don’t have control over their IQ because that’s what they’re born with but they have control over how much work they put in and their perseverance.”

St Hilda’s is regularly in the top 10 schools on Year 12 league tables.

Ms Quansing-Rowlands said as well as teaching academic subjects, schools had to help students develop life skills, such as the resilience and persistence they would need to survive in the real world.

“What we’ve found now is that some children can’t cope with criticism or the fact they didn’t get a sticker for participating,” she said.

Social researcher and author Hugh Mackay said schools such as St Hilda’s were on the cutting edge of a new way of thinking.

“We’re beginning to understand that it actually damages children to constantly praise them, constantly tell them they’re special and build up their self-esteem,” he said.


Walking to school a lesson in health

The West Australian © Wesley College Junior School students Edward Boniface, Remy Hamilton-Ducroz, Charlotte Boniface and Lachlan Edinger walk to school. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Australian Doctors are trying to encourage parents to change their behaviour patterns and that of their children because due to media sensationalism and political opportunism, parents fear their children being harmed so they drive them to school. They also seem to think that their children can’t walk far so they get to school early to get to school as early as possible so they can park as close as they can to the school to their mites don’t strain their sensitive little legs.

So Doctors are calling for parents to walk their children to school. While I believe that children should be able to walk to school alone, far too many people are scared of the boogeyman and so encouraging parents to walk to their children to school is a good start.

Why are Doctors pushing for a lifestyle change?

It’s because Doctors are now seeing children who are obese with illnesses that normally do not appear until adults are middle aged if not older. Children are getting diabetes, cardiac issues and some children are needing hip operations because their bones are breaking under the weight of fat.

Parents are being urged to break their normal routine and walk their children to school today to help them form healthier habits.

In its 14th year, National Walk Safely to School Day promotes safe pedestrian behaviour, the health benefits of walking and reduced car dependency by asking parents and carers to walk to school with their children.

Wesley College junior school students Edward Boniface, 7, Charlotte Boniface, 5, Lachlan Edinger, 6, and Remy Hamilton-Ducroz, 5, will be among those walking to school this morning.

Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said many children would like to walk to school but busy family schedules and safety concerns increasingly got in the way, forcing parents to drive their children to school.

Dr Hambleton said walking children to school set a healthy example and let parents assess any potential dangers along the route.

He said it would help children enjoy simple outdoor exercise with a purpose rather than giving them more time to watch television or play with electronic devices.

“It would be great if parents or carers could take the time to make the effort to walk to school with their kids,” Dr Hambleton said.


Pedal power charges kids

Subiaco students Jamie Forsyth, Russell Teo and Alix Murray. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian.

Another program is seeking to get parents to let their children to ride to school. Getting kids back on bikes and allowed to ride to and from school is an excellent way for our children to get exercise and it’s fun fun fun. Children enjoy riding.

In the 1970s, four in every five students rode their bike to school.

Today, four in every five students are taken by car.

It is a trend Bicycling WA chief executive Jeremey Murray hopes to reverse with initiatives such as tomorrow’s Ride2School Day.

Mr Murray said a record number of schools would be involved in Ride2School Day this year, from Karratha to Esperance.

“Riding to school contributes to the 60 minutes of exercise recommended for children each day,” Mr Murray said.

“Research shows that when children incorporate physical activity into their school journey, they are significantly more likely to get the recommended 60 minutes.

“Students consistently say they would rather ride or walk to school than be driven.

“An active journey is a healthy journey and a well-selected route usually means a quicker journey that reduces congestion and the madness of the morning drop-off zone.”


So get your children out there. It’s much safer out there then the ‘powers that be’ let on.


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Over Reaction 101 – Row Over Nazi Letter NY School


Albany Public Schools Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said the assignment was not malicious, but was unacceptably insensitive. Photo: AAP

I might find myself a little unpopular here – It’s time people stop breaking their shin bones every time an issue of Nazism and Jewish peoples happens. The Nazis were never the biggest bunch of genocidal maniacs for they never reached the same high levels of the Soviet and Maoists. Let alone a few others after the Nazis. And, it’s not just the Jews who were lined up for murder. They were the largest of the groups because there were more of them. I also don’t believe this post modern world has the right to bitch when we are doing much of what the Nazis did such as using genetics to create the perfect looking human specimen.

Now, that said, on with the story…

Some schools have sought to develop empathy and how hatred works by getting school children to segregate based on the colour of their eyes and hair. They have been excellent programs and I really can’t see how this is any different.

A high school English teacher in New York state who had students pretend to be Jew-hating Nazis in a writing assignment has been placed on leave.

The teacher at Albany High School caused a storm of criticism after having students practice the art of persuasive writing by penning a letter to a fictitious Nazi government official arguing that “Jews are evil.”

District Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard held a news conference to apologise for the assignment.

The Times Union newspaper reported the teacher was not in class on Friday and had been placed on leave by the school district.

The district has not named the teacher, who was described as a veteran.

The writing assignment was done before a planned class reading of the memoir Night, by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

For the assignment, the teacher asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then write a letter trying to convince an official of the Third Reich “that Jews are evil and the source of our problems.”

“Review in your notebooks the definitions for logos, ethos, and pathos,” the teacher’s assignment said.

“Choose which argument style will be most effective in making your point. Please remember, your life (here in Nazi Germany in the ’30s) may depend on it!”

Wyngaard said she didn’t think the assignment was malicious but “it displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate.”

Many of the students were dismayed by the assignment. Some refused to write the essay.


What if the teacher asked their students to do this regarding gencide committed by Turkey, Serbia, Japan, Vietnam, etc? Would there be any such wailing? I very much doubt it.

If anything, I believe that this exercise would help students to gain a much better understanding in what happened. I would prefer though that this exercise be not just about the evil Jew but have students concentrate on different groups who were exterminated be they Jew, homosexual, disabled, etc.

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GONSKI – The So Called Education Reform


Oh dear Prime Minister, once again you offer the world but merely rearrange the furniture to make it appear as if you did something real.

Your GONSKI reforms to Australia’s education keeps coming under fire. Now that you have started to announce where the money will come from, all I see is just another shit house Government at work. By merely shifting funding away from universities to the primary/secondary schools, you have not improved the system at all.

Thank frog that you aren’t a car mechanic because I reckon you’d swap the faulty car part with a good part from my car, and put the bad part where the good part was which merely transfers the problem elsewhere. Yep, it seems that you really are out of your depth in the role of Prime Minister after all.

The Gillard government has announced $2.3 billion worth of cuts to the university sector to fund its Gonski school reforms.

While not outlining how much of the funds would go towards the Gonski reforms, Tertiary Education Minister Craig Emerson said the government had found three “substantial savings” that would affect universities.

This came shortly after Treasurer Wayne Swan announced a further $520 million saving measure targeting tax deductions for self-education expenses.

Dr Emerson said the government would place a two per cent efficiency dividend on university funding in 2014 and 1.25 per cent the next year, saving about $900 million.

The government will also scrap the 10 per cent discount given to students who pay their university fees upfront, saving $230 million.

A further $1.2 billion will be saved by requiring students to pay back start-up scholarships once they enter the workforce and once an earning threshold is reached.


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New Inner City School Design – Is it right?

According to the Sydney newspaper in Australia, The Daily Telegraph yesterday(18 Oct 2012, page 2), the New South Wales(NSW) State Government is considering on changing the planning of inner City schools due to lack of space and an increased demand for housing and enrollment places. Those parents sitting on the Parents & Citizens Committee who were briefed on the plan of their school(Ultimo Public School) by an Education Department Director felt horrified by what they heard.

Basically, the proposal is to demolish the Ultimo Public School sitting on 2 hectares/4.94211 acres of land space, the land sold to Developers who would build high rise buildings consisting of commercial and residential space and the new school. This would see the Primary(Elementary) School having to share sporting facilities or use public open space for outdoor activities.

This proposal would see the school enrollment numbers double to cope with the growth of population. Parents at the meeting aired concerns with child privacy and child protection. The Department told parents that nets and screen boards  could be used for the protection of privacy of the students at the redeveloped site.

The NSW Education Minister, Adrian Poccoli has said that there is no secret about the shortage of capacity for inner city and norther suburb schools. A parent has said that the P&C understands that the school is at capacity but does not believe that sandwiching the school amongst a high rise building is the answer.

Personally, I would like to see this plan and have it explained before one could make a judgement. I would also like to know if this has already been done anywhere in the World for if it has, what did they do, why did they do it and how did it work? Was it a success for a failure? What worked and what didn’t work? All those questions need to be asked.

Myself personally, I have no idea but I certainly might not have any objections if the genuine safety of children can be assured. I don’t believe that we have the right to hide our children away from society but make them part of it. One very large and important community. Having the kids using public space could be good instead of only releasing them into the Wild when they are an adult.

Reference material is from the Sydney(NSW, Australia) newspaper, The Daily Telegraph on page 2 titled, “High-rise plans for city’s most cramped schools”. – I cannot find any information on the internet.

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