Alternative Liberal Party

I’m so glad Maurie Mulheron has stated that Federation does not have a “re-elect Labor” campaign (Education, March 11, April 1). Not only is it such a forlorn hope in both the federal election this September, but also in the next two NSW elections in 2015 and 2019. Will there be an ICAC investigation not involving a former ALP state minister by 2020? That’s a fair question to ask colleagues.

As someone whose home town is Melbourne, I saw firsthand the attacks on the public service including public education that Jeff Kennett carried out. Not only has Kennett been a model for NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell but also Newman in Queensland. I was also a witness to the ALP, in its 10 years of government following Kennett’s defeat, not reinstating one of the 4000 permanent teaching positions that Kennett abolished. The ALP also did not reopen any of the many schools and hospitals that Kennett shut down.

Now that Julia Gillard has called the date of the federal election I would like to quote Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and say, “A plague on both your houses.” Some people won’t wear any critical comments of the ALP. It is the Alternative Liberal Party and it is whiffy. Yes, Tony Abbott will be Prime Minister. It’s not something to look forward to.

I believe we should build on last year’s Community Day of Action. Community and public actions can put pressure on O’Farrell as demonstrated by the wins that have been achieved by campaigning against coal seam gas mining. The Central West May Day march in Orange this year was built around opposition to O’Farrell’s cutbacks.

John Tognolini
Wellington HS

Endless upgrades

After more than 13 years working in the automotive trade as a mechanic, supervisor and manager I decided to pass on my trade skills by becoming a teacher. Upon joining TAFE in 1988, my new employer funded my Diploma of Teaching qualification. I later completed the Bachelor of Education (Tech) at my own expense.

In 2002 I was told that I was required to “upgrade” my qualifications to the Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training (BSZ40198). No doubt my employer believed my previous qualifications and teaching experience to be deficient! Obviously I must have been falling behind again by 2011 as my employer required me to gain the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA40104). This was quicklyfollowed by the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40110) also in 2011.

Now in 2013, I am told by my employer that I will need to upgrade my trade qualifications to AUR05 (The Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package) in order to be able to train apprentices in many of the same skills areas as I was in 1988. No doubt I will also need to do this again soon as AUR05 has been replaced by the new AUR12 training package. My employer expects me to accept a 2.5 per cent pay increase, provided that I also agree to the creation of assessor and tutor positions that will probably see my own job disappear… I don’t think so!

Stephen Armstrong
Wyong TAFE

O’Farrell’s scorecard

I have been a proud student, teacher, consultant, executive and principal in public schools over 54 years. I have been an active member of the NSW Teachers Federation for many years, as have many of my colleagues. What is being done to teachers and students in public schools demonstrates the lack of understanding of the profession by the politicians of this current state government. There are too many politicians who come from a private school background and do not understand the heavy lifting public school teachers do silently on a daily basis without, and increasingly in many cases, direct support.

I have been active in Unions NSW since my retirement from teaching as I believe teachers’ feelings and considerations should be of critical importance. Both federal and state politicians take public school teachers for granted at their peril.

The print media has made a big play about the scorecard for this state government but does it really indicate the true feelings of the grass roots out there at the front line who walk the hard yards every day? Search “scorecard results” on the Unions NSW website, www.unionsnsw.org.au to find out what the workers really think of the O’Farrell Government.

Allen Slater
Brooklyn PS

National action

The AEU should call an immediate strike of all teacher unionists in any state that fails to support Gonski in the forthcoming negotiations. It is that serious.

Phil Papworth
Life Member

Teacher autonomy

For a considerable amount of time this union, the media, politicians, parents, students and just about everyone else, have pontificated about how to reduce classroom teacher attrition rates. Solutions, particularly political ones, have often surrounded pay and conditions. 

A better solution might just be to allow teachers to fulfil their teacher identity and give them a real say in the teaching they do. How often do we hear teachers lament the fact that they are asked to teach lessons they do not think are purposeful or to prioritise things they do not see as important. Increasingly they say, “I do it because I have been told to do it and what’s the point?”

I look forward to the day when everyone fights for the primacy of autonomy in teaching just as they did for principal autonomy. 

State/national testing has coincided with Australia’s drop in rank in Program for International Student Assessment and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study testing. But that is just using an international league table, with all the problems of NAPLAN league tables, to define improvement, isn’t it?

Failure to support classroom teacher autonomy, however, will see total capitulation to the neo-liberal agenda that requires educational improvement be measured through countable means that are publicly reported through the My School website a truly blunt tool for literacy and numeracy improvement in Australia and one that will see more and more teachers leave classroom  teaching.

Roland Briefrel
Normanhurst BHS

Enough is enough

How much longer are we going to forego accurate, descriptive language and hide behind euphemisms and “political correctness”? How much longer are we to endure the distortion of our language by various minorities who appear to be unable to accept their differences from the majority?

For example, the use of the word “gay”. (Revealing my age, I shudder every time I think of “Maria’s Song” in West Side Story). The prefix 

“homo” means the same while the prefix “hetero” means different.

Thus “same-sex” preferences should always be accurately referred to as homosexual.

The term “marriage” refers to the union of male and female leading to the possibility of procreation. The term “same-sex marriage” is meaningless for two reasons. Firstly there is only one sex involved thus annulling the term “marriage”. The second, procreation is impossible.

The “push” for acceptance by the homosexual community is too much “in your face” and most likely having a negative effect on the opinions of many heterosexuals.

By now I have probably offended the homosexual community, but please read on. I do not discriminate against homosexuals, though as a heterosexual male I do not understand homosexuality particularly among males. As a male, I have absolutely no chance of understanding female homosexuality.

At last we reach the crux of this letter. If you have a homosexual orientation, there is no need to be ashamed. Refer to yourself as a homosexual. The onus is on the rest of the population to accept your homosexuality and acknowledge you as a person of value.

Your self-acceptance as a homosexual will be enhanced when euphemistic terms such as “gay” and “same-sex” are discarded. Retain “marriage”, “husband” and “wife” to refer to heterosexuals, invent corresponding words to refer to homosexual unions. Please do not usurp the meaning of other words such as the case with “gay” and “straight”.

Finally, I fully support the introduction of a legal framework so the legality and commitment of a homosexual union can have the same status as a heterosexual marriage that is legal equality.

Col Hodgson

Profile confusion

It never ceases to fascinate me when I listen to the world views or perceptions of people about reality. Clearly, those world views have been influenced by many different factors but I’m really starting to believe that the 1998 movie, The Truman Show was strangely prophetic as was the 1999 movie, The Thirteenth Floor. In our internet age with social media, it appears, on face value, that  many have created their own reality TV shows online with profiles and YouTube clips, along with the online communities they subscribe to, perhaps laying to rest any doubt that reality is indeed multi-dimensional.

Whenever I’ve asked people about their world view or perception of reality, I’ve always taken it for granted that it’s the world view they have of this physical world or 3D world. What I’ve never thought about until recently is that for Gen Y and those younger, they have never known an existence that doesn’t involve an online profile. From this, I wonder whether they differentiate between 3D reality and the online world.

Historically, we know that technology shapes culture, like, for example, the printing press did. Online profiles and existing in them and being influenced by them leave me wondering whether millions around the world view them as interconnected. That is, the 3D and online world is somewhat synonymous. For people who didn’t grow up in the online world of social media the answer would be, of course, they’re different. However, for those who have always taken the online world for granted, are the boundaries between the two perceived by them as rigidly in their differences or are they viewed as far more intertwined or, paradoxically, two sides of the one coin?

Raising this has thrown up questions by others that this online world and wanting to be known has created the most narcissistic generation ever. While I agree with that to a point, these younger generations didn’t grow up in a vacuum. Like previous generations before them, their values must have been influenced, to a point, by the generations before them to varying degrees. Still others have found a link between social media saturation and celebrity obsession where people want the fame and adulation of many online friends. Perhaps the 2012 movie Antiviral will prove itself to be prophetic in this regard.

Robert Wrona

Grief and woe

In the finale of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, Trial by Jury, the plaintiff sings, “Oh joy unbounded, with wealth surrounded, the knell is sounded of grief and woe.”

The sentiment expressed in those words conveniently relates to those who are in debt and are “rejoicing” at the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cuts to interest rates.

Those with no debt and a reliance on income from investments are, as usual, the ones being made to pay. Low interest rates allow those in debt to spend on reducing the debt rather than on buying. Those with no debt, consequently, have less to spend as a result.

Why does our society encourage debt and assist people to get into debt?

Bill Barwood

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