Grattan – My School criticism fails test

January 30, 2010

Michelle Grattan writes an interesting article in today’s Fairfax press about the argument over the My School website (My School criticism fails test):

The battle over the My School website launched yesterday is, among everything else, a struggle between the Government and what has been a core Labor constituency: teachers. No doubt aware of the irony, Julia Gillard, formerly a union lawyer, is spearheading the drive to break what has been the influence of the Australian Education Union on Labor orthodoxy in education. Kevin Rudd would have no empathy with the angry union. In its modest way, My School fits Rudd’s productivity agenda, the theme of his week of Australia Day speeches. A more productive nation must be a better educated one.

If the education revolution is to mean anything, it must be not just about all those buildings that have come with the stimulus package, or even the election promise of new computers, but the quality of learning.

And quality is usually improved by transparency, accountability and competition. Just as competition and maximum availability of information enable consumers to make better choices about products, so it should be in education.

I’m interested in this as I contributed to writing numeracy questions for the first NAPLAN when working at ACER.

Peter Hartcher’s much more sensible column on Avatar

January 26, 2010

Following from Miranda Devine’s ridiculous column on the film Avatar, Peter Hartcher has written a much more sensible one (Avatar’s earthlings not nearly as monstrous as Bush) in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Instead of detiling some supposed ideological bent of Avatar, Hartcher compares the behaviour of the human beings in the film to that of US politicians and warmongers in relation to the Iraq war. As Hartcher says, at least the humans in Avatar are open about their goals.

Hartcher’s column is timely given the just-released film In The Loop, a satire about the  events surrounding the UK and US manoeuvring to go to war in Iraq. The scenes of politicians speaking to the press are hilarious. Go see it – I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Miranda Devine’s ridiculous column on Avatar

January 18, 2010

Having just seen Avatar on the weekend, I read Miranda Devine’s recent column on the movie. A quick skim of the column when it was published clearly indicated it was a rant – and it’s even sillier after seeing the movie.

Miranda, it’s a movie – an enjoyable movie. She writes:

Cameron proudly declares Avatar is some sort of allegory for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the capitalist, imperialist Christian West the villain. He portrays the US soldiers who arrive on Pandora in the service of some multinational corporation as moronic, sadistic and determined to wipe out the peace-loving, nature-worshipping natives just so they can mine the valuable substance under their home. Read the rest of this entry »

NSW govt decides not to act on same-sex couple adoption

January 16, 2010

The last fortnight has seen the NSW Government’s response to final report of the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice Inquiry on adoption by same-sex couples, to which I made a submission. While I received the Government’s response in the post this week, it hasn’t yet appeared on the Inquiry’s webpage.

In its response to the report through a letter from Linda Burney, the government has decided “…to continue to listen to the views of the wider community before deciding upon a final policy position”. That is, it’s not going to act. There’s probably little chance of action before the next NSW state election, due in March 2011. Strangely enough, the letter concludes on that note after noting that gay single people can currently adopt.

I disagree with the government’s response. As it acknowledges in the Minister’s letter, gay single people can currently adopt in NSW – so why can’t gay couples? Read the rest of this entry »