On policy

Over the last week or so I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest of the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA). The time in Canada has been amazing, I’ve never been before and it is a wonderful place to visit. I fly back to Brisbane tomorrow, and while I will be very glad to be back home with my family and friends I look forward to coming back to Alberta soon.

Of course, these trips rarely proceed as expected. I arrived at the Brisbane Intentional airport for my trip out only to be told that the plane had a problem that needed to be fixed and it would be delayed by 8 hours. This of course meant that I would miss by connecting flight at LAX. A new connection was found, but the flight took longer than expected so I was behind the 8 ball in terms of making the connection. This wasn’t helped by spending 2.5 hours in the immigration line at LAX as 4 US ‘Border Force’ folks tried to deal with a cue of about 1000 entrants. Slow clap, LAX. Of course I missed my connecting flight, when I finally got through the Qantas staff found me another route (LA to San Francisco then San Francisco to Calgary). I only just managed to make each flight (I was the last person on each after sprinting to the Departure gates). I arrived at Calgary at about midnight and went to the luggage pick-up only to discover that mu luggage hadn’t landed.

Now, for those of you reading along (and thanks for persisting) you have to appreciate that I stepped onto a plane in Brisbane which was an amiable 28 degrees C, I stepped off the plane in Calgary where it was about 2 degrees C. With no luggage. Which was where my warm clothes where. Instead, I was dressed in shorts, a t-short and thongs. Th next day I had to go to a shopping mall (more on that in another post) and buy a load of clothes to survive. From a Quicksilver. The irony of flying to Canada to buy clothes from an Australian surf company is not lost on me.

However, the reason for the trip was the uLead conference in Banff organized jointly by the ATA and the Council for School Leadership. There was a pre-conference symposium on privatisation, datafication and commercialisation in public education where I presented alongside folks such as Pasi Sahlberg, Carol Campbell, Sam Sellar and Sam Abrams. It was interesting and useful, I plan to blog on this later (but given that I have 15 half written blog posts and have published only 7, it is a bit of a crap shoot).

During the week there were many personal connections formed. As well, I learned an awful lot about Canadian education and policy, and the similarities and differences to Australia. I talked with teachers, principals, Ministers, ministerial advisors, academics and union officials. I learnt a lot about how policy work is done, and suffice it to say it is a very complex beast. The main thing that I took away from the week was the point about complexity. For my Australian friends (and I’ll return to this in a future post as well) you’ll read a lot of nonsense about education policy in the next few weeks (I’m tempted here to invoke the nein teacher rule so popular in Twitter at the moment here by suggesting that if you don’t research, write or legislate education policy, your opinions should be dismissed, but I won’t because as a pluralist I respect all voices #vituesignalling) .

So, lots to think about, lots to do, I hope to have some more to share soon. Particularly on performance pay and what happens when you link aspirational outcomes to assessment.