Abbott hooking into teacher unions, removing leftist dogma from curriculum

Tony Abbot’s government is making great strides, not for them the meek appeasement of unions that our government has in its approach.

Their education minister is set to start reefing leftist dogma from the school curriculum.

THE Abbott government will move today to reshape school education by appointing strong critics of the national curriculum to review what children are taught, amid fears a “cultural Left” agenda is failing students.

The Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, is seeking a blueprint by mid-year to overhaul the curriculum, warning that the rise of “remedial” classes at universities proves the depths of the problem in Australian classrooms. Vowing to restore an “orthodox” curriculum, Mr Pyne will today name author and former teacher Kevin Donnelly and business professor Ken Wiltshire to lead the review.

The appointments clear the way for reforms that could expunge parts of the history syllabus that Tony Abbott has blasted for favouring Labor and the unions but glossing over the work of Coalition prime ministers. 

Mr Donnelly is a fierce critic of the “relativism” in the teaching program, while Professor Wiltshire has rejected the emphasis on “competencies” and urged a sharper focus on knowledge and assessment.

The looming changes could spark another “culture war”, given past brawls, including John Howard’s criticism in 2007 of the “shameful” neglect of Australian history and the disputes over Julia Gillard’s introduction of the national curriculum in 2010.

Writing in The Australian today, Mr Pyne declares that parents want a curriculum that is “free of partisan bias” and deals with real-world issues.

Concerns about the teaching program have deepened in recent years as the nation lost ground in global assessments of reading, maths and science, putting Australian students behind their counterparts in Vietnam, Poland and Estonia. Canberra and the states agreed on changes to the curriculum last year but the new review throws open the debate to the public, allowing for wider consultation and possibly the holding of open hearings.

Mr Pyne said he expected the states to accept the need for change, given signs of the problems with the current curriculum.

“I think the fact that universities are teaching maths and English remedial courses is a symptom of an education system that isn’t meeting the needs of students who go on to university, and that’s something the reviewers will be taking a close look at,” Mr Pyne said. “The term ‘remedial’ implies a remedy for a problem and one of the priorities for all governments should be removing the problem.”

A key complaint about the curriculum is its emphasis on seven “general capabilities” rather than essential knowledge in fields such as maths, English and history.

Watch the teacher unions increase their war against the Abbott government.


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  • philbest

    I have been reading “Quadrant” Magazine for years, and can confirm that John Howard and his best team members were something rare in modern western politics: they are not squishy “in name only” conservatives. They are culture warriors fully alert to the “Long march Through the Institutions”.

    One of my favourite photographs of all time: it speaks 1000 words:

    GO, Australia…..!

    • Andy

      Steyn is da man!

      • Andy

        What I love about Mark Steyn is that is is great at putting various left wing betes noires (e.g Islamophobia and homophobia) at each other and watch them devour each other .

        Mind you, his book “America Alone” is a profoundly depressing read.

        • Morrissey

          “Mind you, his book “America Alone” is a profoundly depressing read.”

          It’s nonsense from beginning to end. Steyn writes well about musical theatre, which he clearly knows something about—but his political thinking is crude and ignorant.

    • Morrissey

      “I have been reading “Quadrant” Magazine for years…”

      So have I—but I wouldn’t boast about it. It’s the craziest, most unhinged, loopiest bunch of fruit loops that you’d ever find, outside of a Sensible Sentencing strategy meeting.

      I love the way they’re always going on about how the Aborigines are making it all up, and how the “Abos” are always moaning, when in fact they were treated better—far better—than they had a right to be treated. There are probably about twelve people in Australia who are depraved and stupid enough to actually utter such nonsense—and they all work for Quadrant. Shame on you, not for reading it, but for being callous enough to endorse it.

      • philbest

        I am so inherently distrustful of any construct emanating from the “Long March Through the Institutions” Left, that I am inclined to give conservative contrarians the benefit of the doubt. The writings of Keith Windschuttle in particular, on Aboriginal issues, are worth the benefit of the doubt to me, because it is a classic tactic of the neo-Marxists and cultural Marxists that infest our academies and bureaucracies, to revise all history to make evil white imperialists look as bad as possible.

        PC lefty liberals multi-culti approach to Abo affairs today is despicable; Abo communities and their children are like disposable pawns in the Left’s political game. Of course as soon as at-risk children are removed (as they would be from any other community), the cry goes up, “stolen generation”……!!!!

        I am quite used to conservative culture warriors being branded “fruit loops”, and I endorse the Sensible Sentencing Trust without difficulty. Most Kiwis have no problem with their aims. I’d like to see you tell a meeting of murder victims families to their faces, that they are a pack of right wing nutjobs for wanting all twisted bastards pursuing a path of crime that culminates a significant percentage of the time in murder of innocent victims, locked up for a very long time. Most Kiwis want this, and it is a classic tactic of the Left, to smear effective people on the conservative Right to scare decent people away from listening to or associating with them. Lefty newsroom echo-chambers like to think they represent “Kiwi values” but this is nonsense.

        If Quadrant is such a bunch of fruit loops, that makes John Howard and Tony Abbott both very bad political operators, given that both of them have given speeches at significant Quadrant events. Like the photo of Abbott with Steyn and Hannan proves, these guys are not craven conservative-in-name-only cute little house pets clinging to the fringes of the lefty PC establishment craving a stroke of approval.

        I heartily endorse Quadrant for all readers of WOBH, many of whom are probably unaware of the existence of such a fine conservative culture war bastion. At Quadrant, you will get what the lefty MSM never gives you, about climate change, education, economics, history, social policy etc; NZ does not really have anything like it.

        Look at the contents of the latest magazine to get an idea of what you are missing.

        Hmmmm, who knew about the Aussie watersiders unions deliberately sabotaging supplies to the forces during WW2? Or about the good done to the Australian ecosystem by “introduced species”? Great articles on climate change, as usual; one on the abolition of slavery; more on the revision of colonial history and aboriginal affairs history; one on the gun control debate; one on possible cases of election fraud in Australia and the vulnerability of the current system; a great skewering by Michael O’Connor of pretentious P.C. theatrical productions; and quite a bit more. Can’t wait to get it.

        And always more online too:

        Peter Smith is one of several great writers on economics regularly featured in the magazine and online. Australia’s Thomas Sowell.

        To the more intellectual WhaleOilers: knock yourselves out. If you haven’t discovered Quadrant, you are poorer for it.

        • Morrissey

          “I endorse the Sensible Sentencing Trust without difficulty.”

          Really? Did you endorse the S.S. Trust “without difficulty” when it came out aggressively in support of the man who stabbed a boy to death in South Auckland in 2008? Did you continue to endorse the S.S. Trust as it poured filth on the memory of the dead boy and made personal attacks on his grieving mother and his tetraplegic father?

          Did you endorse the S.S. Trust “without difficulty” when it came out in support of its own “legal adviser”, David Garrett, after he was outed for assaulting a doctor and for stealing the identity of a dead baby?

          I’m guessing these horrendous acts didn’t deter you from endorsing the perpetrators; it therefore comes as no surprise to see you endorsing someone as discredited and morally depraved as Keith Windschuttle.

          • philbest

            Bleeding heart lefties are forever telling us what a nice person some vile thug is, he’s just a victim of social injustice, yadda, yadda, yadda……

            But when Garth McVicar agrees with a High Court Judge, that an “extremely decent” man is an “exceptional case”, we never hear the end of it?? And that extremely decent man actually didn’t break into houses and beat elderly couples to pulp or mutilate some innocent girl to death.

            I think your hyperbole about this case is misplaced. Our MSM is way out of touch and spinning these things against all reason and morality, so I do not trust their reportage. Same with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. As WOBH followers actually get to know the truth about.

            David Garrett. Sigh.

            Compare “political career future of conservative with a criminal indiscretion in his youthful past” with that of a comparable lefty-liberal: say Teddy Kennedy. Or Marion Barry. Or all the NZ vandals, inciters, druggies and fraudsters on the left.

          • Morrissey

            Your confused and wandery reply says it all: you don’t have a clue.

  • philbest

    Can you imagine John Key posing to be photographed with THOSE two?

  • Andy

    1..2..3 “teaching climate denial and creationism.”

    The stock standard response.

  • Crookednose

    AMEN Brother! AMEN!

  • paddles83

    PM Key and his token Maori Princess Minster Parata wont have the gonads to attack the Education ( I mean Liebor party hacks)) Union similar to Tony Abbott

    Conservative party time to step up-to the plate and put this into your 2014 manifesto

    • anonymouse

      Abbot can meddle like this because he is one more step removed from the actually running of education ,which in Australia is the purview of state and territory governments.

      The Federal government can meddle by providing funding on the terms and conditions that (federal) parliament thinks fit, but it is the States and Territories that have to do the actual administering of any policy, This gives Abott a fair bit of fire protection

  • thor42

    This needs to be done in ALL Western countries.
    After Australia has finished this, they will have an *education* system, not an indoctrination system.

  • Daniel Church

    Kevin Donnelly is a legend. I’ve read quite a few of his articles. He’d be a great person to lead the cirriculum review.

    • Other_Andy

      Who is Kevin Donnelly

      His views on religion, homosexuality and gender in education have divided opinion and caused widespread criticism over his appointment as co-head of the review into the national school curriculum.

      In an online opinion piece written by Donnelly, he states: “In recent years several education groups have sought to introduce gay, lesbian and transgender studies in the classroom and to convince schoolchildren that such practices, along with being heterosexual, are simply lifestyle choices open to all.”
      In another article, written for ABC’s The Drum, he writes: “Multiculturalism is based on the mistaken belief that all cultures are of equal worth and that it is unfair to discriminate and argue that some practices are wrong.”
      Mr Donnelly argues that a focus on “political correctness” has seen the current national curriculum attempt to cover too much subject matter without any depth.

    • Nic

      His ideas are excellent, although he does have a bit of a Christian agenda. I particularly like his focus on in depth learning rather than superficial PC nonsense

  • thor42

    The kind of bullshit that Abbott will need to remove from the curriculum is the *myth* of the “stolen generations”. See here –

    Quote – “And should you doubt Windschuttle’s evidence that the “stolen generations” is a myth, I repeat the challenge I’ve put for years to Manne and others. You have said that between 25,000 and 100,000 children
    were stolen from their parents in a racist scheme to destroy the Aboriginal race. Name just 10 such children.

    Manne has tried three times to answer my challenge and failed. Hundreds of thousands of Australians who were taught the “stolen generations” myth as fact in their schools must now ask what it says about our education system that it can be so hijacked and corrupted by ideologues.”

    Hear, hear.

    I remember being told that the Moriori were a “myth” but they were REAL. They lived in the Chatham Islands and were almost completely wiped out by Maori around 1840. I’ll bet THAT is the reason that they were called a “myth.” To acknowledge that they existed would be to *also* acknowledge the massacre carried out by Maori in the Chathams.

    It would not surprise me if there are more things like this in New Zealand. Things that have been covered up or claimed as “myths”, simply to appease Maori and not “rock the boat”.

    • Other_Andy

      Interesting article.

      • philbest

        Quadrant Magazine is the ultimate source of Australian Culture War commentary. Windschuttle is the editor.

    • Nic

      I think this is the problem with teaching history as a series of facts. They are not. They are interpretations, often by people with agendas. Teaching conflicting accounts and comparing evidence would be more effective.

      • Dan

        Yes, but that would very quickly put a lot of people in very high places in very embarrassing positions.

    • Dan

      NZ is a awash with scandal and corruption relating to Maori that has been covered up over the years. There were a few races in NZ before “Maori”, our so called indigenous who are no such thing. The Moriori, Waitaha and Patupaiarehe being three.

  • Nic

    The Australian curriculum is definitely biased and this is what you get when interest groups control content. I think this is a case of both sides being completely wrong. Parents can’t be trusted either, just look at the deluded WiFi paranoia here. The answer is not to move backwards, though, but to remove the ability to excessively push an agenda of indoctrination. I think the justification on the basis of remedial courses is more to do with the expansion of enabling second-rate students into university than the curriculum. Competencies can work but only if they are done right and embedded with intelligent approaches to content and knowledge and, for the most part, they are not. School has never been very good at preparing students for university anyway. I think a course on media analysis would be far more effective than English or history in helping students become more intelligent. Just use whaleoil as a textbook of both bias and critiquing.

  • Dan

    Wouldn’t it be great to have a prime minister that was just as concerned about the future as he was about his status?