Search This Blog

Friday, June 26, 2009

Alice in Wonderland: Alice wants to know about school.

The NSW Parliament yesterday also finalised the Education Amendment (Publication of School Results) Bill with an amendment forced on the Government by The Greens and the Opposition in the Upper House and accepted by the Assembly (Hansard page 4).

Although it accepted the amendment with teeth gritted, I'm struggling to understand the Government's position on league tables, plain, simplistic or crude, or why those who pushed this think there should be restriction on media treatment of publicly available information. The effect of the amendment that The Greens and the Opposition have won in any event seems absurd, given the fact that anyone on-line or outside NSW will not be restrained by the prohibition on publication. But The Greens are trying to solve that problem too. Next they will be off to the UN.

And this in a law that is otherwise promoting more transparency for information about school performance.

      (4) A person must not, in a newspaper or other document that is publicly available in this State:
            (a) publish any ranking or other comparison of particular schools according to school results, except with the permission of the principals of the schools involved, or

            (b) identify a school as being in a percentile of less than 90 per cent in relation to school results, except with the permission of the principal of the school.

            Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units in the case of an individual and 500 penalty units in any other case.

      (5) Nothing in subsection (4) prohibits:

            (a) anything authorised to be done by or under a relevant national agreement, or

            (b) the publication of the ranking of the schools in the top 10 per cent in relation to the results of Higher School Certificate examinations and related assessments so long as the information used to determine that ranking is information as to the results of students that may be publicly revealed under subsection (6) (c).
Today's Fairfax papers on the subject, and this Sydney Morning Herald editorial which concludes:
"Unamended, the bill was a grudging concession to Canberra's demands, allowing school results to be published but in as vague a form as possible. Thanks to the Greens and the Coalition, though, it is now an insult to the public. A Greens amendment bans newspapers and magazines - alone - from publishing school league tables. This attempt at suppression is as offensive as it is futile in the internet age. Its only positive achievement is to expose the Greens' fundamentalist and authoritarian streak. Worse, though, is the Coalition, for whom school league tables were once an article of faith. On Wednesday night it sided with the Greens, hoping to placate vociferous teacher unions and pursue votes by abandoning its own principles. The losers from this extraordinary betrayal are the public, sold out to special interests by the people who should defend them. Schools in NSW should be run not for teachers or bureaucrats, but for the children who attend them."

No comments:

Post a Comment