Teachers’ Unions should have kept their powder dry

I am not a total fan of NAPLAN – or at the very least believe it is imperfect. I have made that clear on this blog and publicly in the South Sydney Herald. But I think the education unions have been very foolish in proposing a boycott of the upcoming NAPLAN tests. My very unrepresentative, admittedly, sounding of a few teachers on the job in the past week suggests they are not too impressed either. It would not surprise me if compliance with Federation’s action is far from 100%.

I am a life-long supporter of the teachers’ unions. I used to think they provided the dinosaur we needed to tackle the various dinosaurs labelled “Department of Education”. The workers united, and all that. There is something in that, and historically unions in this country have at their best achieved a lot for their members. At their best, note. They aren’t always at their best.

They are not in this case.

It seems to me that any “industrial action” should presuppose some thought about what it will achieve. In this case the main thing to be achieved, I would have thought, is odium against the unions and sympathy for Federal and State governments. Good one, comrades!

By all means the unions should be out there pointing up the follies in NAPLAN and the even greater follies (crimes?) of the media in reducing it all to popularity lists. But this is not the way, this present tactic.

See Backpackers to take over school tests.

The unions could be facing much bigger challenges if the Rudd government loses this year, and I believe it could. Kevin Rudd seems almost to be going out of his way lately to appear with egg on his face. Today’s Herald offers quite a few readings on these lines. See PM left to stew in his own juices and Politics of the too-hard basket. If the Centre for Independent Studies offers a preview of what might guide educational thinking under a new Coalition government the unions will have much bigger things to worry about if a push for privatisation were to take centre stage.

On related matters see Jim Belshaw’s Problems with measurement in education. A comment there from Ramana in Pune leads to a rather wonderful YouTube.


I see The Weekend Australian in full po-faced mode has today published yet another series of comparatively meaningless league tables.

Update 5 May

Monthly stats

A brief rundown on how the blogs went in April

The overall Floating Life stats from Sitemeter are down: 8,298 visitors reading 10,343 pages.

WordPress gives 2,017 in April for this blog, 1,107 for the photo blog, 2,891 for Floating Life, 1,398 for Ninglun’s Specials and 2,713 for Floating Life Apr 06 to Nov 07. The last three are archived blogs. English/ESL had 7,584.

The top posts here were:

The most visited photo blog post was Old haunt derelict now.