The news, as revealed in a recent ANU study (so it must be true), that a paltry 4% of the population rates education as a priority does not precisely inspire one to raise high the roof beam, carpenters.

As for the further revelation that education enjoys the same order of importance in the hive mind as indigenous affairs, it is enough to make the chalkie lie down on the marble slab you feel that gutted. But it is the knowledge (those ANU researchers have been busy bees) that teachers feature not at all on the list of professions that Australians trust that is most deflating.

There is no getting around it: like Oberon, we teachers are invisible. And that’s where the government has got it wrong. It is not accountability that is the issue but visibility. For this we can blame a succession of administrations which put Scrooge and Mr Magoo in the shade. And how is the new accountability to be applied anyway?

“Ah, Diogenes. Our productivity people have run the Geiger counter over your 9F History class and frankly there were precious few clicks on the old dial.”

Well, yes, the tailor is constrained to cut his coat according to the available cloth. What Our Julia seems to have missed is that there is already a ritual of accountability in the parent/teacher evening. Here is the opportunity for a free and frank exchange of views between parentis and those in loco. Well, sort of. How to tell parents that the fruit of their loins is a sociopath?

“Does Tarquin have a good relationship with the family pet?”

And what is one to do with the parent who is of the belief that her child is a genius?

“Yes, Vulnavia has progressed steadily this semester. She no longer moves her lips when reading, for instance.”

The trick of these evenings is to fill your booking sheet with fictitious names. But beware the hovering coordinator.

“Another cancellation, Diogenes?”

“Er, yes. It appears that young Albert Einstein, that is Eisenstein, has missed his appointment.”

Make governments accountable not mug teachers made to carry the sh-tcan of bad policy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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