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Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: most unpopular pair in political history stagger on

The dreaded Newspoll this morning has finally put hopes to rest. Julia and Tony will stagger on as the most unpopular pair in our political history.

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

High hopes dashed. I confess to being one of those disappointed there will be no poll driven leadership challenge. The dreaded Newspoll this morning has finally put hopes to rest. Julia and Tony will stagger on as the most unpopular pair in our political history.

Bring on the next one. With leadership challenges off the current agenda, it’s time for the next trusted space filler. Bring on the early election speculation. A wonderful example of that this morning with this AAP report of Tony Abbott saying “the Coalition is ready to fight an election whenever it’s called”, following speculation the federal government could be readying for a March poll. The silly summer season is off to an early start.

Julia’s inspiration. The grumblings reported this morning about the impact of NAPLAN tests on the stress levels of teachers and students will come as little surprise to those following the debate in the United States about just how helpful in improving educational the former New York City schools chief Joel Klein has been. Klein, now a Murdoch employee, was the man who inspired our then Education Minister Julia Gillard to introduce the testing regime to Australia.

This extract from a review in The American Prospect of the man’s autobiography is something else for the PM to think about as she digests the Melbourne University study:

“But his less-than-honest autobiography has been accepted unquestioningly by allies like Arne Duncan who use it, as he does, to support needless test obsession for millions of schoolchildren, on the theory that more accountability for teachers will cure our social ills. Klein’s story has contributed to the demoralization of tens of thousands of teachers who are now blamed for their low-income students’ poor test scores. Klein and Duncan’s conclusion that public schools must be failing because they don’t perform the miracles they allegedly performed in the past has helped justify a rapid expansion of charter schools. Most charter schools have done no better for disadvantaged children than the schools from which they came, while stripping regular schools of their most motivated students. Contemporary reforms have produced much turmoil in public education but little or no meaningful improvement. Meanwhile, social inequality has grown and with it, challenges to educators hoping to narrow the achievement gap.

“Klein’s actual biography tells an important story, just not the one he imagines: It’s more evidence that student achievement mostly reflects the social and economic environment in which children are raised and that the best way to improve academic achievement is to address these conditions directly.”

A Danish way of press regulation. As the debate in Australia gets ready to heat up (and the British press prepares to defend itself from whatever Lord Leveson proposes) there’s an interesting look at Danish press regulation on the BBC website:

“The Danish Press Council was formed in 1991 and oversees journalism, not just in newspapers but on Danish TV and radio and, increasingly, in online media.

“Half its members are drawn from broadcasting, newspapers, and journalism trade unions; the rest are independent.

“It is chaired by a supreme court judge. All are appointed by government …

“… Last year it received 157 complaints about inaccuracy, and about breaches of a press code of ethics drawn up by the council which obliges journalists to respect people’s privacy, lays down rules for court reporting, and requires the clear separation of advertising and editorial, among other things.

“Forty-two complaints were upheld, and the offending newspapers were obliged to publish the council’s findings word for word.

“If a newspaper refuses the council cannot punish it directly, but can go to court to ask for the paper to be fined. That hasn’t happened for at least 10 years.”

All s-xed out. Another day and another judicial inquiry. Along with p-edophilia in institutions we are going to have a judge look into s-xual and other abuse in the Australian Defence Force. And what will be the end result of all this talking and apologising? Human nature will be unchanged and lawyers a lot richer.

News and views noted along the way.

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One thought on “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: most unpopular pair in political history stagger on

  1. Joel

    Which bit hasn’t happened for 10 years – that a paper hasn’t refused to publish the correction, or the press council hasn’t taken them to court for refusing?

    Given the way we’re used to limp-wristed press councils, it seems like an important distinction.