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Compulsory schooling treated as sick joke

By Phil Cullen - posted Friday, 3 December 2010

In November 2010, New York, presented a shameless charade exposing the way in which children, who are forced to attend school, are treated. The city’s dictatorial leader, Mayor Bloomberg, has decided that a non-teacher magazine editor will be appointed as the head of its schooling system to take the place of the non-teacher, sweet-talking Chancellor who has been busy promoting mediocre general standards in his city’s district system, while boasting that test results are improving.

Cathie Black, a successful magazine editor, comes from Rupert Murdoch’s empire to take the place of Joel Klein, a politically successful lawyer who is moving into Murdoch’s employ at the end of 2010. There was a hitch. The New York State Education Commission prefers experienced personnel; and it has a condition that the role of Chancellor be held by someone who has at least three years of teaching. This was waived by the State Board of Education in the case of Joel Klein, at the "request" of the Mayor.

This time, Cathie Black’s credentials are completely zero on all schooling counts; and there has been significant opposition to her appointment including a senator-elect, the City Council’s Education Committee and 5,800 petitioning parents. As one N.Y. Councillor said to Bloomberg, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”


Online petitions to Dr. Steiner, the State Commissioner, pleaded with him not to make the mistake made in 2002 when Joel Klein was appointed. Dr. Steiner, despite protests outside his home and heavy public comment, has followed the cautious managerial practice of appointing a panel of "experts" to consider the appointment.

It seems to be a stacked deck, with five of the eight members sure to follow the wishes of Bloomberg. At least two have benefited substantially from the Mayor’s generosity and three of them have worked for Klein. As one New York Times columnist says, “That’s New York, kiddies.”

The saga continues with a suggestion that Steiner might approve a waiver if a school-experienced deputy is appointed. Bloomberg does not like such a compromise. It threatens his status. At the panel’s first meeting to consider the waiver of Black’s lack of credentials, there were 2 in favour, 2 against, 2 for "hold for the time being", 2 were missing.

A University poll indicates that 51% disapprove of Black’s appointment, while 26% do. To enhance the farce, it has now been found that Joel Klein’s new job creates a serious conflict of interest. His new Murdoch subsidiary is taking over his old district’s testing program, and there’s heaps of cash to be made in test publication. It’s a joke...a very sick one, kiddies.

Australia now follows this meretricious New York pattern to care for its own kids. Klein-struck Education Minister Gillard, (with a Bloomberg-like dictatorial bent), decided that Australia should copy the Klein hard-data based system because he told her that he had magical managerial powers and sold her the porky that hard-line management works in schools. She didn’t need any further information.

She balefully introduced the institutionalised sadistic model forthwith, not referring to any school folk anywhere; and Australia is stuck with the pursuit of New York’s mediocre learning pursuits. (It was heartening to hear respected journalist Brian Toohey draw attention to the problem on The Insiders on 21 Nov.2010).


A description of Mayor Bloomberg unhappily applies to Ms Gillard: “...elitist, autocratic and genuinely does not care what critics thinks, all the more so if those critics are professional educators.” (Elissa Gootman) Fortunately for our Julia, professional educators, concerned about the evil assault on children’s learning, are in short supply

Australian citizens have a right to seek answers and to press for genuine reform, but they remain silent. Her Immenseness and her claque pursue the installation of fear-driven schooling for all Australian children while the states fiddle, almost wantonly over the years, with various structures. The range of differences in schooling structures that a small country such as ours, tolerate, is amazings. Amongst them....

We have different ages of admission to formal schooling;

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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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