On Thursday 6th May the AEU the public school teacher union backed down on a NAPLAN boycott in the face of an anti-worker attack from the Federal ALP led by Julia Guillard. The AEU responding to grassroots teacher anger had called a boycott of the NAPLAN to prevent the publication of “League Tables” of schools based on the new Federal “MySchools” Website. Teachers across the country had been threatened with disciplinary action and individual fines of up to $6600 as Guillard gleefully used anti-worker laws to bully teachers into submission.
Teachers rightfully were concerned that the NAPLAN tests which are national literacy and numeracy tests will be used to create “League Tables” which are an unreliable and narrow form of assessement will be used to attack government schools and teachers, particularly in working class areas.
According the World Socialist Website
“The testing mechanism is an important part of the Rudd government’s drive to further promote a shift of students from public to private schools, to amalgamate and close so-called underperforming schools in working class areas, and to restrict education to the most narrow and empirically measurable activities with the ultimate aim of producing a more “productive” workforce.”
The focus on “data” will inevitably be used to also used against teachers as the basis for the introduction of performance pay which will pit teachers against each other competitively and also discourage teachers from teachers in “underperforming” ie working class schools.
The anti-worker Orwellian named Fair Work Australia had declared the decision by teachers to boycott the NAPLAN illegal industrial action and threatened to fine the union collectively but also individual teachers up to $6600. State Industrial Tribunals in Qld and NSW also threatened teachers with fines. Julia Guillard even threatened to use parents as “scabs” to administer the tests whilst ALP governments at a state and territory level joined in the chorus of threats against teachers.
In the face of this bullying the weak AEU leadership quickly caved on Thursday May 6th accepting a meaningless “compromise” from the Federal ALP that a “working group” of experts would be set up including the AEU to investigate the use of data on the MySchool website. Not a single commitment was made from the Federal Government to even review the use of data on the MySchool website was made. That the union was prepared to accept this shows that their dominant concern was to force the ALP to bring the union fatcats “back to the table” in the implementation of education policy. They do not care the the substance of this policy is regressive, neo-liberal crap but they want to make sure they get to still be part of the process.
The establishment papers the Age and the Herald Sun have both used the union backdown to build the profile of their “Thatcher in the making” Julia Guillard with the Hun crowing Gillard shows her mettle and Michelle Grattan ludicrously said the crushing of the union ban showed Guillard compared to Rudd was soaring like Mary Poppins
The Socialist Equality Party organised a public meeting in Sydney and Melbourne to discuss the failure of the NAPLAN Boycott and passed a resolution calling for a campaign of continued boycotting of the tests and the setting up of committees of teachers to plan industrial action against the attacks on public education independent of the co-opted teachers unions.
SEP public meetings oppose Australian government’s assault on public education
Socialist Party public meeting resolution
The World Socialist Website also has some excellent analysis and background to the dispute and the Union cave in on the following links
Australian Teacher Union calls of boycott
NAPLAN testing and My School: Rudd’s free market education agenda