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The research by Professor Nick Parr and the Grattan Institute ("How suburbs affect NAPLAN scores", The Age, 29/11) is dangerously flawed. From their monolingual perspective, it is not surprising they conclude that affluent inner city parents and schools advantage children's NAPLAN results, and that parents who are "unable" to access such areas and schools, not to mention those children with "troubled backgrounds", (presumably only) from outer suburban areas, are less likely to succeed.
Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
Where is the recognition of the rich multilingualism characteristic of outer areas where newly arrived migrants and refugees are forced to settle? How well would those "affluent" native English-speaking children score if they undertook NAPLAN in French, Italian, Greek, Chinese or in any of the languages from Iran or Afghanistan? If educational experts persist in failing to recognise the need to address the problems of monolingual approaches to learning and teaching, Australia will cease to be a clever country.
Dr Kay Moulton, Surrey Hills
Here's a thought: ask the teachers and kids
OK, now we know officially. Ten years of NAPLAN reveal where the problems are. I just hope we don't have to endure ten more years of NAPLAN to analyse why. I suggest in the meantime we invest in libraries and librarians, a few attractive buildings, some green shady outdoor learning spaces and playing fields. Then we introduce a music and arts program with trained teachers. We could look at providing special support programs where required.
We might look at the negative impact of NAPLAN itself on the curriculum and ask ourselves how relevant and engaging it is. We could even ask kids and their teachers what they think. Radical I know, but probably cost effective.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North
Urgent support needed for disadvantaged
It is not surprising that better performing primary schools are largely in well-off inner Melbourne areas. It is well-known that education outcomes are closely associated with social advantage or disadvantage. While family background is undoubtedly important, so is being able to afford basic educational expenses. Every day parents present at our community information and support agencies for help to pay school costs such as books, computers, and excursions. Many agencies say the demand is only increasing.
As a matter of urgency we need to give more support to students and schools that are disadvantaged. Public education should be affordable for all Victorian families, so that every child has the best chance to succeed and flourish.
Kate Wheller, Executive Officer, Community Information and Support Victoria
'Magic' can happen at a school
Postcode should not dictate destiny. I am a principal of a high-performing school that is significantly "disadvantaged" according to the metrics that purportedly measure disadvantage. Our school is a wonderful example of a counter to the simplistic argument offered in yesterday's article that "if you are surrounded by students who are disadvantaged that tends to drag you down".
Our school has demonstrated that if you are surrounded by students who are disadvantaged, but motivated by high expectations and multiple experiences of success, that tends to drag you up. Of course, it is the experiences of success that can be a point of contention. The article correctly identified the issue of the recruitment of highly skilled teachers as the essential ingredient to achieve the successes for transformation of schools from low to high performance.
When good teachers come together with motivated students in an orderly learning environment, "magic" happens. After a while, "high performance" becomes part of the culture of a school and "good" teachers strive to be a part of such a school, so even recruitment becomes less problematic.
Kevin Mackay, principal, Dandenong North Primary School
I am old and I love the rope pyramid, spider climbing frames because they are accessible to all ages. Tiny tots with support, pre-schoolers just wobbling on the lower ropes, bigger kids racing to the top, and even adults recapturing their youth. Come the evening and even teens find it cool to just hang out. Steel monkey bars are old tech.
Tom Danby, Coburg North
Ban the ban
Surely the anti-monkey bar brigade protest too much. While injuries are plentiful, the numbers rated as serious are minute, and I agree with Professor David Eager, when wearing apparently a different hat, that "exposing children to risk is vital". Do we ban bicycles because children fall off and hurt themselves? Do we ban pushers because adults let them roll in front of trains? Do we ban ovens in the kitchen because children may burn themselves? The list could go on and on, and we could ban all play equipment. Then children could sit in front of their devices and stack on weight. A different group of experts would say that was a bad idea. It is impossible to legislate against every form of accident that may occur to people, young or old, and it is pointless to try to do so, as well as depriving children of a great deal of pleasure.
Peter Valder, Toorak
Back to class
The Coalition MPs are the ones who need to be in school. First lesson, the existential threat of climate change. Second lesson, the electoral consequence of sham climate policy.
Jenny Smithers, Ashburton
Not even close
Sorry, Nick Miller, but Mars is not our nearest planetary neighbour ("Melbourne's man in Mars exploration", The Age, 27/11). That role belongs to Venus, which at closest approach to Earth is almost 17 million kilometres closer than Mars ever gets.
Tony Prout, Mulgrave
He has to go
NAB boss Andrew Thorburn says to the royal commission that charging dead people fees was "wrong but not dishonest". It's dishonest because it was concealed and it's wrong because it's theft. Clearly if he stays in charge the culture will not change. Sack him now.
Jon O'Neill, Waurn Ponds
It's getting to be a sad joke lately to see John Howard wheeled out on a regular basis as de facto spokesman and defender of the struggling Liberal Party. Like some other faiths, his "broad church" is becoming irrelevant. This is the man who regained government in 2001 on the back of the Tampa deception, and who, on the basis of the great WMD lie, dragged our country into the Iraq conflict.
His adoption of Pauline Hanson's policies engendered the politics of fear and xenophobia that have persisted to this day through the efforts of people like Abbott, Dutton and Morrison and their Sydney-centric shock-jock mates.
He is also only the second sitting PM in the history of the nation to have been voted out of his seat, hardly a ringing endorsement, and to top it off, a self-confessed "climate -change agnostic".
The good news is that voters seem to have finally reached the point where they have come to reject these dated views, and hopefully we can look forward to an age of progress and enlightenment after the forthcoming federal election.
Peter Knight, Arnaud
Act of great credit
What great lessons the schoolchildren will experience when they take time out for climate change. They will learn about the power of collective action when there is an absence of leadership, the need to act when they will be the people now on the planet who will be most impacted by events, the opportunity to debate evidence versus myth and outdated strategies and reflection on their own futures as adults and decisions which they will need to make. It will, above all else, bring home the sense of responsibility and potency when they take action independently of those who wish for something better but do not act on it. It will be very worthwhile time spent in their education.
Geoff Payne, Mornington
What does it say about Australia today when a 15-year-old speaks with more sense and knowledge than the elected government? All power to the Veronicas of this world. You are the future.
April Baragwanath, Geelong
Julia Banks hasn't walked away from the Liberal Party – it's the Liberal Party that has walked away from her.
Brian Collins, Cardigan
A hole in help
Thank you to the ABC for an honest and insightful portrayal of the history of the Gatwick and the compassion, sense of belonging and genuine advocacy provided by the previous owners. The residents of the Gatwick over the years may not have been the most desirable neighbours, but they are deserving of a warm bed as much as anyone else.
As a health professional working with the socially disadvantaged I'm keenly aware of the lack of supportive accommodation options they have and the many doors that are closed in their faces. This often leaves them in costly public mental health beds for far longer than is necessary. The winners of The Block may be celebrated in magazines and social media, however Rose Banks and Yvette Kelly seem far more deserving of community recognition. Their absence will be felt by many in St Kilda.
Dr Georgina Tuck, psychiatry registrar, St Kilda East
Don't tick this box
Tourism has negative impacts – directly on the environment, and by increasing accommodation, travel, and food costs and generally reducing the amenity of a place for the locals. However, there is great pressure to encourage more travel because of the wealth it can generate for a community and governments and the pleasure it can bring everyone from the experience of gaining knowledge and just connecting with other people.
As a result the impact of a tourist development tends to be looked upon fairly benignly. Also many believe they have the right to experience any place to the level of comfort to which they are accustomed.
The development of any resort with attendant helicopters at the Halls Island heritage site is most inappropriate and shows total disrespect to the Aboriginal people most closely connected with this site. It is too important to all peoples of the world to be reduced to another tick on a bucket list.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North
Experience not needed
With all due respect to Brighton candidate Declan Martin, but who considers that a 19-year-old, just out of school without life experience living at home with parents, not having rented or bought a home is capable of taking decisions which affect the lives of his constituents? Surely a parliamentary representative should be qualified at least with life experience if not academically. It appears to be a very irrational protest vote.
Newton Reynolds, Croydon South
Close them down
Baden Eunson (Letters, 29/11), with your call against manipulation of kids, you mount a compelling argument for closing down Sunday schools and the school chaplain program.
Greg Hunt, Oak Park
Fair day's work
What's wrong with 10 sitting days, they'll just get paid for 10 days won't they? Oh, they won't ...
Harriet Farnaby, Geelong West
What does Christopher Pyne mean when he says, "The public are (sic) not the least bit interested in how many weeks the Parliament sits before the budget"? Of course we are. When a Parliament sits, debate happens, decisions get made. You are there to govern this country for us. You have been entrusted by us, to govern for us. I am both insulted and angered by his statement.
Gail Mayes, Moonee Ponds
Jessica Irvine's article on Labor's proposed franking credit policy misses the point. The issue is not about the generational divide; it's about fairness and efficient tax design.
The change in 2000 to franking credits didn't provide a "sweet deal" or "perk" for individuals with refundable franking credits; the refund ensured that individuals were taxed at their marginal tax rate. If you take away the refund, you tax some of their income at the corporate tax rate – not at their personal marginal tax rate. And, rightly or wrongly, the marginal tax rate for most retirees is nil.
A debate on tax rates for all is worth having. However, a Labor policy that targets middle to lower wealth people who choose to hold their superannuation in a SMSF, or shareholders on low incomes, is not about a generational divide. The policy fails the fairness test by treating taxpayers in similar circumstances differently.
John Maroney, CEO, SMSF Association
Thank you Jessica Irvine (Comment, 29/11) for a well-reasoned comment. If the government allowed a maximum of $5000 returned in cash, this would mean that, for someone with shares paying, say 7 per cent and a fully franked dividend, they owned more than $160,000 in shares. Although I am a recipient of the current largesse, I am in favour of the move – the money could be better used for supporting those less well off.
John Pinniger, Fairfield
Blot on the landscape
Can we have a Test match as soon as possible or an AFL scandal or bright, new urban planning something-or-other. Anything to relieve us of the burden of our blighted political landscape.
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills
AND ANOTHER THING
It appears that the crossbench is just that – very cross.
Alan Inchley, Frankston
It's surprising that Eric Abetz isn't blaming the Liberals' poor performance on voter bias.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East
Scott Morrison says he'll present a surplus budget in March. One more budget than we need from the Coalition.
Ross Williamson, Foster
Howard advises Liberals how to address future policies. This from a sitting PM who lost his seat.
Bill Pimm, Mentone
As we are about to have six months of electioneering, surely the federal government should go into caretaker
Michael Hipkins, Richmond
The difference between right and correct is illustrated by the Liberals' behaviour.
Barrie Bales, Woorinen North
Monkey bars should be banned in Canberra. Morrison has done double backflips and landed on his head. It will get worse in an election year.
Phil Harty, Thornbury
Children overboard, WMDs, coal is good, African gangs. No more peanuts, please. I'm full.
Geoff Gowers, St Kilda West
The few remaining Liberal MPs should emigrate to Egypt and sail down "De Nile", where they've been for the past eight years.
Peter Foster, Sunbury
You wouldn't want to be in a pizza shop with Liberals MPs ahead of you. They wouldn't be able to decide on the base, let alone the topping.
Simon Gould, Arawat
I thought the Liberals would be on the nose when they planned to privatise sewerage.
Jim Sowersby, Moonee Ponds
Monkey bars: Bad. Alcohol and cigarettes: Still OK.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne
By Angus Mcleod, Cremorne
30 November 2018